The impact of behind-closed-doors football on Premier League clubs
“Football without fans is nothing.” So says the famous quote attributed to former Celtic manager Jock Stein. We’re about to find out how it stacks up in the Premier League era.
With professional football in England set to return in just over a week after more than two months of COVID-19 inflicted inactivity, we’re going to find out how much impact match-going fans have on the Premier League products.
Ticket sales represent a relatively small part of the budget for top-flight clubs, who rely more on television money, commercial agreements and sponsorship deals. Betway has been exploring just how important support inside the stadium matters to Premier League clubs from a financial standpoint.
Premier League clubs brought in £677m from matchday revenue in the 2018/19 season, which works out at 13 per cent of the clubs’ combined turnover.
Sheffield United will be the side hardest hit by playing behind closed doors. The Blades generate £6.5m from matchday revenue, which represents 30 per cent of their annual turnover.
Norwich City are not far behind. Matchdays at Carrow Road earn them £10m of their £34m turnover.
Those figures and those of Aston Villa, fourth on list with matchday revenue of £13m representing 24 per cent of their £54m, are impacting to some extent by the figures being based on matchday revenue outside the Premier League.
Aside from last season’s promoted clubs, it is the big clubs who are most affected by the drop in revenue, at least as a percentage of their total turnover.
Arsenal will forego 24 per cent, while Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur (both 18 per cent), Liverpool (16 per cent) and Chelsea (15 per cent) are also taking a big hit.
United are the league’s biggest earners on a matchday, so it is they were will experience the biggest monetary loss. Matchday revenue usually nets the Red Devils £111m.
At the other end of the scale are Bournemouth. Matchdays at the Vitality Stadium contribute just four per cent (£5m) of the Cherries’ £131m turnover.
Of course, the financial impact is only one aspect. Clubs are likely to feel a greater effect in the lack of matchday atmosphere and any knock-on effect for players’ performances.
Clubs and the Premier League will also be anxious to see how their product holds up in the eyes (and ears) or a global TV audience who are used to pictures and audio of vociferous support from the stands.
In the stadium, it is Norwich who might feel the greatest impact. Carrow Road is the loudest stadium in the Premier League over the past six season, with noise levels at 91dB. Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux (84dB) and Manchester United’s Old Trafford (84dB) are just behind.
Home results between now and the end of the season – or whenever supporters are allowed to return to stadiums – will be the best indication of which club suffers the most from not having their fans to cheer them on.