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Stadium utilisation tops 95% in Premier League

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Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance infographic extract.

Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance infographic extract.

Average Premier League attendances in 2012/13 reached almost 36,000 with capacity utilisation exceeding 95% for the first time, according to the latest Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance. However, with limited stadium developments and a tough marketplace for corporate hospitality, matchday revenue remains around its 2006/07 level.

In 2011/12 the capital expenditure of clubs in the top four divisions was £188m (up 13%). 25 clubs each invested more than £1m in the season. Capital investment by Premier League clubs accounted for about three quarters of the total in 2011/12, led by Tottenham Hotspur (£48m – primarily their proposed new stadium project and training centre) and Manchester City (£30m – primarily for training and community facilities).

Brighton & Hove Albion opened their new stadium in 2011/12 season. The cumulative c.£100m expenditure in the preceding three years, largely funded by the club’s owner, is one of the largest single investments by any club in the last 20 years.

In 2011/12 Premier League clubs’ total matchday revenue (largely from gate receipts) was £547m (down 1%). Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United together accounted for about half of matchday revenue across the Premier League. Average matchday revenue per attendee was £34, ranging from £66 (Chelsea) to £10 (Wigan Athletic). During tougher economic times this average has increased by only £1.50 since the 2007/08 season, representing a decrease in real terms.

Adam Bull, Senior Consultant in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, noted that further strong Premier League revenue growth is forecast:

Premier League clubs’ revenue is estimated to have grown by a further 5% to £2.5 billion in 2012/13. There will then be a significant increase of around £600m, almost 25%, in 2013/14, with the first season of the Premier League’s new broadcast deals, taking the projected revenue of Premier League clubs above £3 billion for the first time.

Deloitte reports that clubs continue to innovate with their ticket pricing, packaging and marketing initiatives, conscious of the price sensitivity of their fans and a desire to attract and retain the next generation. Increasingly, many clubs also look towards additional ways of engaging with their fan base and improving the matchday experience, such as the creation of more social environments for fans to congregate at the stadium and use of in-stadium technology.

Across the three divisions of the Football League, in 2012/13 aggregate attendances (of 15.6m, down 4%) remained above 15m for the 10th consecutive season.


Australian Football League pro-active on stadiums

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The Australian Football League’s attendance was down but TV watching up for 2012. Total attendance for the NAB Cup, NAB Challenge, AFL Premiership season and finals was 7,374,832, down from 7,488,198 in 2011; while average attendance per game in the Premiership season was 31,509, down from 34,893. The fall was in line with the League’s expectations following the introduction of expansion clubs Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

AFL’s Chairman Mike Fitzpatick explained:

“Playing Premiership season matches in smaller capacity venues in Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and Launceston may also have the effect of reducing overall crowds, but the AFL Commission is committed to providing an opportunity for as many people as possible to attend an AFL game.”

The AFL has confirmed it would like to buy Docklands Stadium earlier than 2025, when its existing deal means it will take ownership of the venue. It also says it is again considering plans to develop a new stadium in central Melbourne to help ease the financial burden on Victorian clubs playing at Etihad Stadium.