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You don’t need to be broke to be successful — a Bayern Munich case study

Lots of numbers ahead, so be patient.

FC Bayern Lederhosen shooting
Thomas says cheers to good finances!
Photo by Lennart Preiss/picture alliance via Getty Images

It is that time of the year where we review Bayern Munich’s finances for the previous season — the 2021/22 season.

The Swiss Ramble blog did a fantastic breakdown of Bayern Munich’s financials via its Twitter account and we took a look at what all of those numbers mean.

Despite the significant impact of COVID, the club has sound financial results, with a pre-tax profit of €5 million (€2 million after tax). However it is to be noted that from the season 2020/21, the profits have fallen from €17 million to €5 million. Revenue has fallen by 8%, from €698 million to €644 million, despite a €42 million cut in expenses.

If you are thinking, “Swaz, that number isn’t even that big, come on, it’s just 5!” — I suggest you read on before you come to conclusions.

COVID-driven reductions in matchday income hit Bayern the hardest — recording a 83% loss compared to the previous season and commercial income took a large dip. The only recorded increase in income was from TV broadcasting, which was only because of deferred payments from the 2019/20 season.

Broadcasting revenue rose €51 million (25%) to €255 million, a club record. This was mainly from UEFA TV money, which increased from €54 million to €136 million, due to income deferred for games played after 2019/20 accounting close. However this number still puts Bayern far below Manchester City with €336 million. This disparity can be credited to the low Bundesliga TV money.

A 10% hike in wage bill and a 11% in player amortisation did not help things, but the overall expenses fell due to the decreased cost of playing ‘ghost games’.

The depression of the transfer market due to COVID meant that income from player sales almost halved, falling from €64 million to €33 million. Some clubs still made good money, like Real Madrid with €106 million and Man City with €77 million. Bayern have become increasingly reliant on player trading. Although income fell to €33 million in 2021, they earned an impressive €154 million in the previous 2 years.

Interestingly enough, Bayern were one of only three clubs in the Bundesliga to post a profit in 2020/21 and this is credited to sensible management and not spending more than the income, though their €5 million was just below RB Leipzig’s €8 million. This is arguably better than the case of Hertha Berlin, who recorded a loss of a whopping €78 million.

The most incredible part here is that Bayern have been profitable for an amazing 29 years in a row, generating €241 million pre-tax profit in the 4 years before COVID and for the second year in a row, retained 3rd place in the Deloitte Money League in 2021, with their €611 million revenue, only surpassed by Manchester City with €645 million and Real Madrid €641 million.

Here’s the fact — only a handful of European clubs were profitable in 2020/21.

Man City recorded a profit of €6 million and Real Madrid €2 million — all much smaller than RB Leipzig.

In stark contrast, some staggering losses across Europe were seen in Juventus with their loss of €208 million, Paris Saint-German with €225 million, Inter Milan €239 million and the icing on the cake — FC Barcelona with a mind-blowing loss of €555 million.

Commercial income fell by 4%, from €360 million to €345 million, and despite this, Bayern recorded the highest commercial income in Europe ahead of second-placed PSG and third-placed Real Madrid.

Within the Bundesliga, the revenue gap between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund has narrowed in recent years, but even in 2021, the gap was an insane €274 million, essentially putting Bayern’s income 80% higher than the second ranked club.

The wage bill recorded a large increase in 2021, due to players taking voluntary salary cuts in the previous season and the increased wage bill makes Bayern the club with the highest wages in Germany. The club recorded a 10% hike in wages from the previous year and a 41% hike since 2017. The €373 million wage bill is a hefty €158 million (73%) more than Dortmund’s €216 million — something that is not the case anywhere in Europe bar Ligue 1, with PSG recording a slightly higher lead.

Bayern’s gross spend was €422 million in last 5 years, just behind Dortmund’s €425 million and not too far ahead of RB Leipzig €376 million — though their net spend of €162 million is highest in the Bundesliga, above Wolfsburg with €139 million and Hertha with €69 million. While these don’t look to be very large numbers, the more crucial point is that most German clubs have net sales.

The wages to turnover ratio increased from 54% to 61% — this worsening was contributed by the COVID revenue losses, however, this was still one of the best figures in Europe, only behind Tottenham Hotspur 57% and Real Madrid 58%, but miles better than the likes of PSG with an astonishing 88%.

Now, to all the Barcelona fans who cluelessly ramble about our debt and finances, this one is for you.

Bayern Munich’s bank debt to finance the Allianz Arena was paid off 16 years ahead of schedule in 2014. The debt, which was as high as €167 million in 2009, had practically vanished. Also to note, that the club’s traditional high liquidity helped them navigate the pandemic without taking on debt.

The club’s ability to compete at the highest levels while remaining debt-free is impressive, particularly in comparison with the likes of Chelsea FC with their debt of €1.7 billion (due to Roman Abramovich’s funding), Tottenham Hotspur with their €964 million (stadium debt) and Manchester United’s €599 million debt due to the Glazers’ leveraged buy-out. Having no interest payments has given the club a healthy competitive advantage. Five leading clubs paid more than €20 million interest in 2020/21 — Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Tottenham and Inter.

Oliver Kahn spoke on Bayern’s dominance in the league, stating that this is merely a problem for the club’s competitors and not the club itself. CFO Jan-Christian Dreesen credited the financial successes of Bayern to a solid foundation, saying “The club is on solid foundations, which have been steadily strengthened in recent years.” Needless to say, every fan of the club can be proud of the club for its financial health, which will be heralded in Europe and across the world for the years to come.

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