Matchday revenue at Liverpool FC fell 95% due to COVID-19, latest financial results show, but the club has come close to breaking even after losing £41.5m in the previous year. Tony McDonough reports
Record-breaking Nike kits sales and 13 new commercial partnerships helped offset plummeting matchday revenues at Liverpool FC at the height of the COVID pandemic.
Liverpool has released its financial results for the 12 months to May 31, 2021. They show a slight fall in overall revenue, down £3m to £487m, but a big improvement in margins. Its loss before tax fell to just £4.8m from a hefty £41.5m the previous years.
In Sunday, the Reds beat Chelsea on penalties at Wembley to lift the Carabao Cup, and remain in contention for the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. Off the field the club is seeing a significant improvement in its business fortunes as the UK emerges from the pandemic.
During the reporting period, fans were excluded from football grounds for long periods. At Anfield, which is usually full to its 54,000 capacity, matchday revenues plummeted from £70m to £3m, a fall of 95%. This covered the season when Liverpool won the Premier League – its 19th title and the first since 1990.
Due to the extended season and more televised matches than usual falling within the reported period, media revenue was up by £64.5m to £266.1m. Commercial revenue for the 12-month period was up slightly by £200,000 to £217.6m.
Because of the COVID shutdowns there was an impact to non-matchday commercial revenues during the period, including retail stores, stadium tours and the museum closing due to the pandemic.
However, there was still strong growth in partnerships sales reported by the club, which is owned by US-based Fenway Sports Group (FSG). A total of 13 new partnerships were announced, including Nike, Expedia, Amazon, Quorn and SC Johnson.
This period also saw record-breaking kit sales with the new Nike partnership and mobile transactions increased by 89% on the club’s online retail store. Three new physical stores were opened in Thailand and Singapore.
Liverpool FC’s social media channels surpassed 100m followers, which included 30m on Instagram, 20m on Twitter and more than 4m on TikTok. LFC also became the most engaged club in the Premier League across all social channels, with a total of 1.43bn engagements.
On the pitch, 12 new players signed for the club during this financial period, which included Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara, while 12 player contracts were renewed, including Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harvey Elliott.
In April 2021, FSG founder John W Henry apologised to Liverpool fans for the club’s involvement in the ill-fated European Super League plan, which provoked a backlash from football supporters across the country.
Andy Hughes, LFC’s managing director, said: “These latest results demonstrate the significant financial impact of the global COVID pandemic, which affected all areas of the business.
“We have worked really hard these past years to get us into a really strong and sustainable financial position. Despite navigating through a very challenging and uncertain period, overall revenue remained flat, demonstrating the underlying financial strength of the business.
“It’s been an unprecedented time on and off the pitch. Our men’s team winning our 19th league title was a truly fantastic achievement, but not having supporters in the stadium to share the moment was not how we wanted it to be.
“Our women’s team also continues to grow and the hard work and strategic changes to the women’s section is seeing a challenge for promotion to the WSL this season.
Mr Hughes said FSG had invested more than £130m invested into the infrastructure of the club in the past three years. This includes a new £50m first team training complex at Kirkby and work is now under way on a £60m extension of the Anfield Road stand, taking total stadium capacity to 61,000.
He added: “It is imperative, however, that we continue to live within our means and operate within football’s regulations and financial fair play. But we’ll continue to reinvest on and off the pitch to further strengthen our position and compete at the highest levels right across the club.”