Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the Champions League semifinal, first leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Barcelona player Lionel Messi. The club’s €220m shirt deal with Japanese ecommerce group Rakuten is among the largest football club sponsorship deals in history © AP

Hefty increases in sponsorship income have powered record revenues at Spain’s top football body La Liga, with advertisers drawn to Spanish clubs’ success in high-profile European competitions.

La Liga published its annual financial results on Thursday, covering the 42 teams across its top two divisions. Overall revenues reached €4.48bn over the 2017-18 season, an increase of more than a fifth from the previous season.

The organisation did not break out figures for its top tier competition featuring 20 sides, including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, the numbers suggest La Liga’s revenues are broadly level with Germany’s Bundesliga, currently the second richest division in world football, behind the English Premier League. 

While past growth at top European leagues has been built on increases in broadcasting income, Spanish football officials said that the main driver of revenue growth for La Liga last season was commercial revenues, such as sponsorship and advertising. 

This week, Real Madrid announced a 10-year extension of its kit deal with Adidas. The parties did not disclose financial details, but reports in Spanish media said it was worth €1.1bn.

La Liga said commercial revenues across its member clubs was €838m last season, up just over 34 per cent from a year before. Spanish teams’ biggest revenue source remained broadcasting income, worth more than €1.5bn. 

Combined, the country’s top 42 clubs earned a net profit of €189m, an outcome that La Liga described as the “best financial results in the competition’s history”.

La Liga’s top clubs have been strong performers in European competition in recent times, helping them to gather large worldwide followings and draw in large endorsement contracts.

“Without a doubt, the success of Spanish clubs on the pitch has been a positive factor,” said Javier Tebas, president of La Liga. “In the last 10 years, Spanish sides have won 70 per cent of the 30 Uefa competitions that were contested.”

Among the biggest beneficiaries is FC Barcelona, which has a stellar team that includes the Argentine forward Lionel Messi, though one that lost to Liverpool on Tuesday and failed to progress to this year’s Champions League final.

Last season represented the start of Barcelona’s €220m shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese ecommerce group Rakuten, as well the start of a 10-year kit agreement with Nike worth up to €155m annually. Both are among the largest football club sponsorship deals in history.

According to the consultancy Deloitte, Real Madrid became the world’s highest earning club last season, returning to the top spot for the first time in three years on the back of winning the past three Champions League titles. Commercial deals represent about half of Real’s overall revenues of €750.9m.

“The growth we are seeing helps us to create the best quality audiovisual product for broadcasters, which has led to a large and growing international audience for La Liga matches, which prompts sponsors to increase their investment in Spanish clubs,” said Mr Tebas.

Get alerts on La Liga when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article