Portugal’s clubs profit as European soccer seeks next Neymar

by BLOOMBERG

As European soccer clubs set records with player transfers like Brazilian star Neymar’s 222 million-euro ($264 million) shift to Paris Saint-Germain, Portuguese clubs are leading the way in cashing in, according to a study.

Two of the country’s top teams – Benfica and Porto – head a ranking of profits from player trading, with an aggregated balance of 65 million euros and 58.2 million euros, respectively, for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, accounting firm KPMG said.

The Portuguese clubs have become experts at producing players that appeal to the acquisitive giants of European soccer, including Manchester City, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. In the years in question, Benfica sold the likes of Renato Sanches to Bayern for 35 million euros. The player was last week loaned to the Premier League club Swansea City.

Close behind the Portuguese pair are Germany’s Schalke 04 and French club Olympique Marseille. France has the highest number of big clubs by player trading – six in the top 20 – followed by Italy with five. KPMG compiled the ranking from publicly available statements for the two seasons.

The English Premier League, the most lucrative league in Europe, does not feature in the table of top clubs by player sales. Southampton, which has a highly regarded youth academy, is the only profitable Premier League club by player trading over the two-season period, with others spending their bumper broadcast revenues on new players.

“This is likely attributable to the profitable and sizeable broadcasting income of the Premier League and the greater means they enjoy compared to many of their European counterparts,” Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s global head of sports, said in the report.

Smaller clubs need to focus on growing in-house talent and scouting young footballers to be sold at a premium, whereas the larger clubs need to increase commercial revenues and might need costly player acquisitions to do that, the firm said.

The report says the fee that Paris Saint-Germain is paying Barcelona for Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., at 42 percent of the acquiring club’s operating revenue, was above the 23 percent average for the biggest transfers over the last decade. But the deal provides the Qatari-owned French club with a unique brand exposure, according to KPMG.