According to the latest Financial Report of Spanish professional football, corresponding to the latest complete season (2017/18), LaLiga’s clubs posted revenue of €4.479 billion, representing growth of 20.6% over the previous season.
This is the largest positive annual change in recent years and particularly notable given that it occurred following several financial years in which it has been consistently posting double-digit growth rates and in which, furthermore, we are at the midway point of the three-year audiovisual cycle for the national market (and, by extension without coinciding with sudden increases in level or discontinuities).
LaLiga’s gross operating profit (EBITDA) was €945m (+20.7%), operating profit (EBIT) was €325m (+11.4%), and the net profit for the year was €189m (+6.7%). In short, LaLiga produced a solid, positive and growing set of results across the board, achieving the best figures in the competition’s history.
The 2017/18 season was surprising due to two new drivers of LaLiga’s growth breaking onto the scene: commercial revenue and revenue from transfers, which have seized the central role held by broadcasting revenues as drivers of annual growth.
In the case of commercial revenue (without including turnover from advertising), the annual increase was 34.1%, amounting to turnover of €838m, which is indicative of the fact that Spanish clubs are becoming an increasingly attractive medium for sponsors.
Meanwhile, in the case of revenue from player transfers (i.e. sale price), the annual increase of 104.3% permitted turnover from this item to double in a single year, with an exceptional entry of €1.018bn, which is symptomatic of the significant capacity for creating sporting value held by the Spanish clubs and SADs.
That said, the audiovisual turnover received by the clubs managed to surpass the €1.5bn mark for the first time and will recover its central role starting in the 2019/20 season as a result of the new audiovisual cycle negotiated for the national market and the international agreements which have been signed.
It is very important to underline that these results have been achieved at the same time as an increase in operating expenses (OPEX) and at a time of high investment intensity (CAPEX).
OPEX (€3.169bn) increased by 18.7% in 2017/18, propelled especially by increases in sports staff expenses, which represent an investment in talent and a potential source of income for LaLiga in the medium term, through both rotation – transfer – as such, as well as the increase in sporting potential and the general appeal of the competition.
Meanwhile, gross CAPEX on infrastructure and players (€1.341bn) followed the same trend with annual growth of 11.8%.
Without doubt, these are highly appreciable levels of expenses and investment, providing the best guarantee of maintaining the quality of LaLiga out on the field of play and its appeal in the medium to long term.
LaLiga achieved all of these figures while simultaneously maintaining a downward trend in the degree of leverage. The ratio of financial debt to EBITDA of the competition was 0.9x, the lowest level on record.
It is equally important to underscore that LaLiga 1|2|3 is contributing more and more not only to the revenue of LaLiga as a whole, but also to the earnings (all the indicators are in positive territory and show upward trends) and to creation of cash flow and value for the business.
Likewise, the two special groupings that we use for internal financial analysis in the Association, Netted LaLiga and Netted LaLiga Santander, which exclude the two largest clubs, are converging more and more rapidly towards LaLiga and LaLiga Santander as a whole respectively. In relative terms, some indexes or ratios are even better. This is indicative of a business that is increasingly more fairly distributed and more sustainable in the long term.
The above has led LaLiga to obtain an overall operating profitability index (ROIC) of 12.3% (15.1% adjusted) in the 2017/18 season, six decimal points higher than the previous season and, in any case, substantially better than those of other leading competitions.
Finally, LaLiga earmarks around 2.0% of its turnover for corporate social responsibility projects, an amount which is significantly greater than the majority of companies and industries of a similar nature. This allows for the development of the pioneering initiatives mentioned in the report which give us hope and stimulate us, and of which we feel proud.
Furthermore, LaLiga’s clubs create a professional football industry which produces an impact on national GDP equivalent to 1.37% and which directly or indirectly employs around 185,000 people (0.98% of average employed population in Spain over the past year). To this we must also add the over €4 billion which it contributes to the state coffers in the form of taxes.