The financial reports for Serie A from the 2014-15 season are in -- and it has the league standing on high alert, because the news is all bad.
While overall revenues were up slightly -- to €1.84 billion, from €1.8 billion the year before -- costs spiked to €2.4 billion among ever-rising salaries and spiraling club debts. Losses were totaled at some €365 million for the season, making it the worst financial season for Italy's top division ever.
We already know that Napoli posted their first operating loss in almost a decade last season, but it turns out their woes were far from unique this season. Even excluding debt-destroyed Parma, the total debt across the league rose to a staggering total of €1.7 billion, including over €1 billion owed directly to banks from loans. Another €400 million is owed to various suppliers to league teams, for sporting equipment and more mundane items.
That's a fairly untenable situation, especially when you consider that the vast majority of the loans teams have taken from the banks were used for transfers and player salary, not for longer-term investments like stadium improvements, training ground updates, and things of that sort.
The FIGC implemented a number of financial measures to try to limit the various teams' exposure to financial risk in the wake of Parma's self-destruction, measures which were obviously not in place yet for the period covering this financial statement. Still, it's obvious that there's a lot of work to do to get the league financially healthy again. That's not news -- the financial woes of Italian football have been known to some degree for a long time -- but this report puts just how far off from being even OK Serie A is.
Especially when you compare Serie A finances to the Bundesliga or the English Premier League, it's obvious just how poorly-run most of the league is. La Liga are in a bit of a financial bind as well, but that has more to do with the lopsided structure of their TV deal than the sheer degree of mismanagement exhibited in Italy. It's going to take a lot of years and a mountain of work to get this turned around -- let's just hope it's not too late and that the hole the league has dug itself into isn't too deep yet.