In 2016, the clubs of the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) became profitable for the first time in five years: their revenues exceeded expenses by 3.2 billion rubles. This is stated in the study of the economy of Russian football by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
In many ways, the clubs have become profitable due to the increase in revenue from ticket and season tickets sold, as well as proceeds from sponsorship and other commercial agreements, the study explains.
In 2016, according to PwC, season tickets accounted for a quarter of ticket revenue. The average price of a season ticket is 5700 rubles, and the average price of a ticket for one match is, depending on the tournament (RPFL or Champions League), from 500 to 2280 rubles. So far, Russian fans are not ready to attend all matches and prefer to buy tickets for individual games, notes Oleg Malyshev, head of consulting services for sports organizations at PwC.
Ticket sales have increased as new stadiums have sprung up, PwC analysts say. For example, in September 2016 CSKA played its first match at the home VEB Arena, the stadium’s capacity is about 30,000 people. In October 2016, the first match at the Krasnodar arena was played by the club of the same name of Sergei Galitsky, the stadium’s capacity is almost 34,000 fans. In 2014, the Otkritie Arena stadium of the Spartak football club appeared. It accommodates approximately 45,000 fans, and its occupancy rate, according to PwC, is one of the highest: in the 2016/2017 season – 72%, in 2017/2018 – 67%.
But the structure of income of RFPL clubs is significantly different from the structure of income of European leagues, PwC analysts state. On average, European clubs account for about a third of all revenues from the sale of rights to broadcast matches – more precisely, from 14.8 to 50.5%, depending on the country.
In Russia, the cost of rights to broadcast matches is relatively low, the report says, Russian clubs compensate for the shortfall through sponsors and earmarked revenues. At the end of 2016, broadcasting rights brought only 3.5% of all revenues to RPFL clubs, while sponsorship and other commercial revenues – 44%. It is necessary to increase viewers’ interest in broadcasts, strive for higher ratings and accustom users to paid content packages, Malyshev said. According to him, for success it is necessary that the league, the clubs themselves, and, of course, broadcasters participate in the development and popularization of the media product.
Representatives of Zenit, Krasnodar, Lokomotiv, Spartak and CSKA have not yet responded to requests from Vedomosti.