For football globally the pandemic was a crisis if enormous proportions.
Fans not allowed in stadiums, media rights rebates due to paused seasons and commercial partnerships unable to be fulfilled meant that the industry lost billions across Europe, with the Premier League itself anticipating heavy cumulative losses in excess of £1bn by the time the full impact of Covid is realised through the publishing of audited club accounts.
Everton didn’t fare well when it came to losses, with the club posted a record £139.9m loss in the 2020 accounts, their third year in the red, which has seen Farhad Moshiri have to reign in spending this season so as not to breach the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules, which allow for £105m losses over a three year period.
Over the past three financial years Everton have posted combined losses of almost £265m, figures of £139.9m in 2019/20, £111.8m in 2018/19 and £13.1m in 2017/18.
Moshiri has ploughed in over £450m in investment since taking charge at the club, and a new stadium is on the way, with the spend on infrastructure not factored into financial fair play rules, which have also allowed for clubs to roll two years into one as a result of the pandemic.
The pandemic, Everton stated in their financial report for 2020, was directly attributed to losses of £67.3m, while the club had been on course to post record revenue over the course of the financial year before the impact of the coronavirus, projected to be in the region of £220m.
While a number of the needles were pointing in the wrong direction, commercial revenue was something that was driven forward, with revenues rising to £64m, more than double the previous year, as the club landed a £30m deal with Alisher Usmanov’s USM Holdings for first refusal of the naming rights of Bramley Moore Dock stadium, which received the green light earlier this year.
Everton’s commercial business over the past 18 months, since the start of the pandemic, has helped drive the growth of commercial revenues in the Premier League, which rose 12 per cent compared with many of the top leagues in Europe that experienced losses, with only the German Bundesliga posting a modest one per cent rise.
The two-year front of shirt sponsorship deal with online car dealership Cazoo was the ninth largest in Europe to be struck after the onset of the pandemic, valued at around £9.5m per season. Manchester United’s deal with tech firm TeamViewer was the largest at £56m per season, according to industry analysts KPMG.
The Blues also landed a new kit deal with Danish firm Hummel, a deal worth £10.4m per season for three years, according to KPMG. That deal was the biggest kit deal struck in Europe after the pandemic began, outstripping the likes of Napoli (Armani), Southampton (Hummel), West Ham United (Umbro) and Newcastle United (Castore).
Everton’s renegotiation for front of shirt sponsorship will come into focus sooner than usually happens, with the two-year deal being reflected across the new deals struck in Europe post pandemic as clubs sought a financial boost while commercial partners stepped back from taking a longer term view with such uncertainty.
Deal length for main shirt sponsors dipped from a 2.6 year average to a 1.8 year average, with even Barcelona having to cope with a massively reduced one-year deal with their sponsor Rakuten.
USM Holdings’ sponsorship of the Finch Farm training ground is up for renewal next year, and with the main shirt role also up for renewal there will be the hope that Everton can drive that revenue forward again, although they will have to factor in that the stadium naming rights boost will have gone.
But there will be more opportunity for Everton in the next 18 months or so to start monetising Bramley Moore Dock before the development is built, with a large number of new commercial opportunities that simply weren’t possible at Goodison Park to be available to sell to potential commercial partners.
Andrea Sartori, head of global sports at KPMG, noted in his latest report: “Overall, deal data currently available suggest that commercial revenues at football’s top end are likely to remain resilient in the current football season, despite the ongoing challenges.
“Nevertheless, the financial constraints of key commercial partners in sectors that are severely hit by the pandemic, including companies in the airline, automotive or retail industries, may force them to employ a more cautious approach to their sponsorship strategies and marketing expenditures.
“In the coming years, clubs and leagues will increasingly benefit from technology developments that offer new commercial revenue streams: Italy’s Serie, for example, has recently launched sponsorship categories for Video Assisted Refereeing and Goal Line Technology. Opportunities around digital fan engagement solutions, non-fungible tokens (NFTs, i.e. one-of-a-kind digital files which can carry any form of digital content), or digital technologies (such as TeamViewer) also provide additional commercial income sources to explore and capitalise on.”