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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 28, 2013
Business & Economy
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Soccer and Finance
November 28, 2013   
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Legia Warsaw, the national champions in the 2012/2013 season, is Poland’s highest-earning soccer club, a study has found.

This is the first time Legia Warsaw has topped the list, ending three years of domination by Lech Poznań and a year when KGHM Zagłębie Lubin was number one. Lech Poznań was the runner-up in this year’s rankings, and Lechia Gdańsk came in third.

The findings were published in the latest Ekstraklasa of the Soccer Business report compiled by consulting firm EY, in association with the Ekstraklasa SA company, which runs Poland’s Ekstraklasa premier soccer league.

For the first time, the report, in addition to ranking soccer clubs according to their financial data, includes comprehensive data on attendance at stadiums, television audiences, media attention and the effectiveness of the marketing activities of all top-division clubs in Poland.

In evaluating Ekstraklasa clubs, the report this year takes into account seven criteria, including revenue, the cost of each point won (the ratio of operating costs to the number of points scored in all matches), the diversification of revenue, profitability, the liquidity ratio, and revenue growth.

Legia Warsaw outdistanced the competition especially in terms of revenue, the most important financial criterion. The club’s revenue hit zl.89.9 million in 2012 and was zl.36.9 million higher than the revenue of Lech Poznań, the runner-up in this category. KGHM Zagłębie Lubin took third place on this count with a total revenue of nearly zl.41 million. The high revenue of Legia Warsaw is chiefly thanks to its matches in the Europa League (Legia played matches in the best-of-16 round of the Europa League in the 2011/2012 season) and the sale of several well-known players. Legia also dominated the competition in terms of revenue from transfers. These exceeded zl.23 million in 2012, while Lech reported zl.18 million, and Górnik Zabrze zl.10 million. In other clubs, revenue from transfers was under zl.5 million.

Compared with the previous report, Wisła Cracow went down by nine notches overall, and its total revenue shrank to almost half of that in 2011, to zl.32.5 million. Zawisza Bydgoszcz, a newcomer to the Ekstraklasa in the 2013/2014 season, had the lowest revenue in 2012 among all the clubs ranked, at zl.4.1 million. According to the report, Piast Gliwice produced the biggest surprise both on the pitch in the Ekstraklasa 2012/2013 season and in the financial year evaluated in the study. Piast topped the list in terms of revenue growth (reporting an impressive increase of 234.7 percent) and the liquidity ratio, and was number two in terms of profitability.

The report notes that, for the first time in years, the overall revenue of all the clubs evaluated in the study declined compared with the previous year. The drop was by about zl.7 million, to zl.442 million, from zl.449 million in 2011.

“Even though the total revenue of all the clubs increased—except in the case of Wisła Cracow, which reported a major drop—it is evident that the soccer business has become somewhat stagnant at this time of financial crisis,” says Krzysztof Sachs, partner at EY and one of the authors of the study, commenting on the report findings. “It also needs to be admitted that attendance at Ekstraklasa stadiums did not grow as we expected. Even though the Euro 2012 effect is over, there are several great stadiums left behind and new ones undergoing modernization, but average attendance at top-division games just won’t exceed 10,000. However, there is hope for improvement in this area. Ekstraklasa clubs doing poorly in terms of attendance at matches, such as Bełchatów and Polonia, have been replaced by Zawisza and Cracovia, with fine stadiums and traditions that guarantee higher attendance. The number of spectators at the Lech and Legia stadiums has also increased.”

According to the report, television audiences during 2012/2013 campaign matches showed double-digit growth, while attendance at stadiums decreased slightly.

Bogusław Biszof, CEO of Ekstraklasa SA, says he is optimistic about the future of the Polish professional soccer league. “The Ekstraklasa today is the strongest brand in Polish sports,” he says. “According to a study by Millward Brown commissioned by Ekstraklasa SA, more than 10 million adult Poles say they are interested in Ekstraklasa games, and more than 4 million say they watch at least one match every two weeks on television. Under these circumstances, the value of the Ekstraklasa brand is steadily growing, which in the future should translate into higher revenues for Ekstraklasa SA and its clubs from media and marketing rights.”

The average TV audience for matches increased by 47 percent during the 2012/2013 season. In total, top-division soccer matches in Poland were watched by more than 48 million viewers. At the same time, average attendance at Ekstraklasa stadiums stood at 8,300, down from 8,700 in 2011/2012.
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