The English Premier League's already well-heeled soccer stars were the biggest winners as growing competition for television rights helped to lift revenue at its clubs to a record 3.2 billion pounds last season. As Sonia Legg reports, Deloitte's business group found growth across the European football market.
Barcelona's players may be about to go to Berlin for their Champions League final with Italy's Juventus but it's England's top league which is having the lion's share of the financial success. All but one of the top division clubs made an operating profit in the 2013-14 season and together they achieved record revenue and profits. Analysts Deloitte's say combined revenue soared 29 percent to well over £3 billion. The Premiership made the best part of £200 million in pre-tax profits - its first since 1999. And operating profits were up by almost 650%. England's top teams made more than Spain's and Italy's combined and they generated over £1 billion more than Germany's - their nearest rival. Alan Switzer is from Deloitte's Sports Business group. SOUNDBITE: Alan Switzer, Sports Business Group Deloitte LLP, saying (English): "It is really transformational in terms of the move to profits. European football is growing, the big five leagues are growing, it's just the premier league that's growing faster. Sponsors want to be associated with the game, broadcasters need the content to drive subscriptions." Domestic broadcasting rights deals account for just over half the Premiership's total revenue. And new Financial Fair Play rules also seem to be kicking in. Manchester United player Wayne Rooney may still be earning an estimated £250,000 a week. But wages were only up a relatively modest 7%. SOUNDBITE: Alan Switzer, Sports Business Group Deloitte LLP, saying (English): "Broadcasting deals have increased significantly that increase has flown to players through wages but that's not happened this time and part of that is down to the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules and also the Premier League Rules and this change in mind set of owners of actually trying to retain some profit in the club to invest in the club." Across Europe it's also a winning picture. Germany saw a significant rise due to domestic broadcasting rights deals and France was helped by growth at Paris Saint Germain. In Italy and Spain growth was more modest, with Spain's rise solely down to Madrid's two top clubs. Overall, the combined revenue of the big five grew 15% to more than 11 billion with the overall football market in Europe topping 20 billion euros. While cash poured into clubs like Chelsea - the lower leagues in England weren't doing so well - with most spending more on wages than they should. Perhaps that's no surprise though when the rewards are clearly getting bigger.