Belgian clubs facing heavy losses as revenue halved by Covid-19
Belgian soccer’s top-tier Pro League has spelled out the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its clubs with revenue down almost 50 per cent in the period from March to September.
A comparison of VAT returns for the Pro League clubs shows that turnover amounted to €293 million ($357 million) in the period in question, down from €568 million in the same period in 2019.
With the 2019-20 season ended early and spectators excluded from stadiums since the beginning of the current campaign, as a result of Covid-19 the decline is largely being attributed to the slump in matchday revenue, notably from tickets, hospitality and catering.
Other factors have been a fall in sponsorship income and the depressed player transfer market.
With over 80 per cent of the decline covering July to September, the Pro League expects the overall loss for clubs in the 2020-21 season to be “very heavy.”
Peter Croonen, the president of the league, said: “In the current context, with in particular very limited match-related income, but the maintenance of fixed costs (salary costs, infrastructure, non-recourse to technical unemployment) for professional clubs, it seems very likely that these figures will continue to increase. and then have an impact on the wider ecosystem; subcontractors, families...
“Indeed, the National Accounting Matrix of the Federal Planning Bureau has shown that for every €100 generated by professional football, a total of €246 million is generated in direct production (€100), indirect (€97) and induced (€49).
Given the circumstances the league is especially grateful to its media and commercial partners, notably Eleven Sports, the international sports broadcaster, which landed the domestic rights starting this season in a five-year deal worth €103 million per annum, and title sponsor Jupiler, the Belgian beer brand.
Pierre François, the chief executive of the Pro League, said: “These [declining revenue] figures show the crucial importance of current structural contracts, both at the global level and at the club level.
“I am thinking in the first place of the media contract concluded with Eleven Sports, which offers clubs guaranteed income for the next five seasons, the contract with the naming sponsor AB InBev and the various contracts concluded at club level. The Pro League would like to thank these partners for their support in these complicated times and above all to thank the loyalty and commitment of the supporters who continue to show their support for their clubs during this period and thus literally support the future of our clubs.”