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Top 10 Most Valuable Football Leagues in 2019

We’ve previously highlighted the world’s Top 10 Highest-Earning Footballers and the Top 10 Most Valuable Football Clubs of 2019but if you’ve ever wondered why some leagues get more attention than others, or if you’re one of those entrepreneurs looking to break into top-flight football, we’ve listed the Top 10 Most Valuable Football Leagues of 2019 (according to revenue) for your reference here.

Unlike our roundups of the highest-earning players and most valuable clubs in 2019, we did not have the benefit of Deloitte’s or Forbes’ bean counters doing the legwork for us, so we acquired each league’s revenue reports and put them side by side for your easy reference.

Top 10 Most Valuable Football Leagues in 2019 (by Revenue)

The English Premier League is the richest (duh)

The top level of the English football pyramid is also the world’s most valuable association football league by far. The English Premier League and its 20 teams raked in over 6.5 billion Euros between 2017 and 2018—exceeding the cumulative value of the last five leagues in this list. 

Stadio Olimpico, Roma, Italy. Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash.

The total sum of Premier League matchday, broadcast, and commercial revenue outweighed the combined revenue of France’s Ligue 1, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, the Chinese Super League, the J1 League, and Major League Soccer, by almost a billion Euros.

While still the obvious leader in this list, the EPL is trailed by the first and second runners-up, Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga, which respectively pulled in revenue of 4.5 billion and 3.8 billion Euros from 2017 to 2018.

The UEFA Champions League is a much smaller pie with lots of slices

Interestingly, despite being regarded as Europe’s highest echelon of association football and one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments, the UEFA Champions League entails a significantly lower potential for revenue to be shared by each participating team.

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash.

The UEFA Champions League generated slightly over 2 billion Euros between 2017 and 2018, putting it in the middle of our list according to our strict terms of league-wide revenue generation. But when this sum is divided between the 32 participating teams in the group stage, the average earnings per team put the UEFA Champions League below France’s Ligue 1, and on par with Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, in terms of each team’s theoretical revenue share. 

When considering the total of 79 teams involved from preliminary rounds to the knockout phase of the tournament, the average theoretical earnings for each participating team brings the UEFA Champions League to the very bottom of this list and into the outlying neighbourhood of national football leagues in Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands (Primeira Liga, Belgian First Division A, and the Eredivisie).

But would any top European team ever voluntarily sit out of the UEFA Champions League because it is less lucrative than some national leagues? We think not.

The Italian Serie A is still bigger than the UEFA Champions League

Despite a string of corruption scandals plaguing the Serie A in recent decades, there is still more money in Italy’s top division than in the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s highest level of competition.

Stadio Olimpico, Roma, Italy. Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash.

The Serie A generated 2.1 billion Euros in revenue between 2017 and 2018, only slightly more than the UEFA Champions League during the same period, but the lower number of competing teams in Italy’s national league means, hypothetically, there is more to go around.

There are a number of possible reasons as to why the Serie A still commands such a degree of financing and attention:- 

  1. The 2019 UEFA coefficients, which rank European leagues according to the performances of their teams in past European competitions, place the Serie A fourth—below La Liga, the EPL, and the Bundesliga, but above France’s Ligue 1. 
  2. The Serie A includes some of the world’s most famous clubs. Juventus, Milan, and Internazionale are teams that would make for some great sports stories. Juventus has won all possible UEFA competitions, Milan is the world’s third-most decorated team, and Internazionale has never been relegated out of Italy’s highest level.
  3. Serie A players are the names most likely to be drafted into our own fantasy football teams. As FourFourTwo magazine pointed out with their list of the 100 Greatest Footballers in History, almost half have played in the Serie A—and the league is second only to La Liga in terms of Ballon d’Or award winners.

Is there a league deserving of more attention and revenue that did not make this list? Is there an entry in this list that shouldn’t be generating that much revenue? Let us know what you think!

Kevin Eichenberger wonders why the CSL (the younger and more corrupt league) should be generating more revenue than either the MLS or the J1.