By Paul Nicholson
September 15 – More than 209 million fans attended European club football last season, according to UEFA’s newly released European Club Talent and Competition Landscape report.
The report is an impressive analysis of the continued post-pandemic progress of football in Europe at elite and grassroots level. It focuses attendances as well as trends in the player, coach and competition landscapes of both the men’s and women’s games.
The 2022/23 season was the first with a full return to stadiums across Europe after three seasons of multiple restrictions. The report finds that at least 33 top tier men’s leagues recorded higher aggregate attendances compared to the last pre-pandemic full season 2018/19. A total of 14 leagues reported the highest crowds for at least a decade with all-time record crowds recorded in England, France, and Switzerland.
Across Europe 68 million fans grassroots clubs “away from the flashy arenas”, highlighted UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
The report provides detailed analysis and data of the trends within loan player movement and data on the competitive landscape in each of UEFA’s members.
An evolution of UEFA’s Club Licensing Football Benchmarking Report, this Club Talent and Competition report is the first of two reports with the second to follow which will look at the financial and investment landscapes in European club football.
“In general, the report tells a positive story of bounce-back from the unprecedented challenges of recent years, a sport whose popularity remains stronger than ever despite economically difficult conditions in the wider world. Across the report there are indications of a forwards-looking approach,” said Andrea Traverso, Director of Financial Sustainability and Research.
“The remarkable post-pandemic resurgence in crowds at stadia, a testimony to the passion of supporters throughout European club football; Record transfer investment in younger talent and more minutes played by that young talent, and; Adaptation to player workload challenges with an increased spread of minutes across playing squads and greater use of 5 substitutions.”
While finance and investment will be the focus of the second report, there is a section on the transfer window just closed that saw a record €7.2 billion spent on transfers this summer (2023), beating the previous record by 3% (summer 2019) and last summer by 24%. “This represents an extraordinary bounce back of 88% from the depths of the pandemic (summer 2021) when clubs were wrestling with €7bn of lost revenues,” said UEFA.
The snapshot data on each UEFA member top league shows where the transfer activity is focussed, though inevitably it again demonstrates the dominance of the English leagues.
“As you explore these pages, you’ll quickly notice the remarkable strength and vitality of European football, which remains the global leader in game development and continues to captivate audiences worldwide… This incredible passion and participation showcase European football’s profound depth and enduring strength,” said Ceferin.
“Our unwavering commitment to maintaining the finest sports ecosystem in the world sets us apart and draws these record-breaking numbers. UEFA tirelessly endorses the European sports model and the pyramid structure that links grassroots football at the grassroots level to elite clubs at the pinnacle… over the past decade, an astounding 1,264 clubs have graced the top division of domestic leagues, while, at the same time, 562 clubs have competed in the men’s UEFA competitions. European football’s core values of open competitions, based on sporting merit, promotion and relegation, remain the pillars that make our sport as strong as ever.”
To see the full report, click here.
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