Pandemic hits Bundesliga revenue but players’ salaries rise

BERLIN (AP) — Bundesliga players’ salaries reached an all-time high of nearly 1.57 billion euros last season despite a huge shortfall in German clubs’ revenue during coronavirus lockdowns.

The German soccer league (DFL), which covers the 36 clubs of the top two divisions, said on Friday as it released financial figures for 2020-21 that the downturn in revenue since the start of the pandemic totaled more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

The part or full exclusion of fans from most games had a dramatic effect on match revenue, which fell last season by 95% compared to 2018-19, the last pre-pandemic season. Match revenue of 650 million euros ($721 million) in 2018-19 dropped to 35.5 million ($39 million) in 2020-21, when ticket sales were severely restricted with many games played without fans in order to restrict COVID-19 infections.

“The coronavirus pandemic has already left a deep mark,” DFL chief executive Donata Hopfen said. “As we publish this economic report, we already know that the stands had to remain largely empty in the first two thirds of the 2021-22 season. As well as damaging the atmosphere in the stadium and on screen, this is posing a huge financial burden for the clubs.”

While Germany’s clubs are feeling the pinch, Bundesliga players are not. The top division’s clubs alone paid 1.567 billion euros to their players and coaches in 2020-21, up from 1.446 billion euros the season before. Payroll costs in the second division dropped to 220,000 euros, down from 262,000 the season before.

Despite paying high wages, the 18 clubs of the Bundesliga responded to the pandemic by reducing expenditure elsewhere. Savings of 118 million euros were made on transfers, 89 million euros on match operation expenditure, and 135 million euros on other expenditure including advertising, materials and commercial operations.

Altogether, expenditure for the 18 top division clubs dropped by nearly 200 million euros to 3.76 billion euros last season.

The top division clubs also found income elsewhere. Media revenue increased to a record 1.66 billion euros last season.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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