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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK
Report shows football cash divide
Rugby Park
Most SPL clubs would struggle to match England's Division One
A study by the business advisers Deloitte shows improving finances at English Premiership football clubs.

But it also emphasises the contrast with the relative poverty of the Scottish Premier League (SPL).

With the average Premiership club now generating revenue of more than 65m, only Rangers and Celtic come close.

In England, Premiership clubs have made operating profits of 124m, while the last available figures for the SPL's members indicate losses of 60m.

The research by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte has emphasised the scale of the challenge facing most Scottish clubs if they try to attract players of international standing.

Clubs like Aberdeen or Hibernian would be like a mid-tier Division One club in England
Alan Switzer
Deloitte
Deloitte consultant Alan Switzer said: "Obviously you've got two clubs that dominate - Celtic and Rangers last year had turnover figures of 60m and 49m.

"They would be like an average Premiership club or just below.

"For the other Scottish Premier League clubs, you wouldn't compare them to the Premiership.

"Clubs like Aberdeen or Hibernian would be like a mid-tier Division One club in England."

English club football has not only generated more cash than Scottish football, it has taken steps to match costs to income.

The Deloitte research showed wages in England growing at the lowest rate since the formation of the Premiership.

Deloitte partner Dan Jones said: "Lower wage growth, combined with a much reduced level of transfer spending, provides evidence of stronger financial management and helps the Premiership maintain its position as the 'financial champions of the world'."

Financial realism

As the SPL clubs struggle to bring their costs under control, they remain buried under a mountain of debt.

Previous research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) calculated their combined debts at 144m.

PWC's assessment in the autumn of 2003 was that five SPL clubs - Dundee, Dunfermline, Hearts, Hibs and Livingston - were technically insolvent.

Partick Thistle players
When it comes to money, SPL clubs have little to celebrate
But Alan Switzer at Deloitte said he detected a new sense of realism in Scottish football.

He said: "I'm sure they realise that they can't compete with some of the top Premiership clubs and they'll have to adjust their cost base accordingly."

Much of the English success is built on a large fan base.

In 2002/2003, average match attendance in the Premiership topped 35,000 for the first time since 1951.

But the largest single source of income is from broadcasting, with domestic television rights generating 404m last year.

One of the few crumbs of comfort for the Scottish Premier League is that similar countries are experiencing serious problems in financing their senior football teams.

Mr Switzer said: "We have looked at other small European countries, at the football leagues in countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal.

"Those leagues were losing money, just like the Scottish Premier League."


SEE ALSO:
Stadia requirement to drop
01 Jun 04  |  Scot Prem
Record number face dole
01 Jun 04  |  Aberdeen
SPL posts record losses
23 Sep 03  |  Scotland


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