A study by governing body UEFA showed the COVID-19 pandemic cost European clubs EUR seven billion (USD 7.91 billion) across two seasons even as player wages at top sides rose by 2 percent to EUR 11.9 billion (USD 13.45 billion) during the period.

Top-flight clubs suffered losses worth EUR four billion (USD 4.52 billion) in 2021, up from EUR three billion (USD 3.39 billion) the previous year. The majority of losses came due to empty stadiums, with revenues from ticket sales falling by 88 percent in 2020-21. Transfer revenues also took a tumble, dropping by 40 percent.

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British media said the report, which included 724 clubs across 54 top divisions in Europe, added that EUR 900 million (USD 1.02 billion) was given in rebates to broadcasters, while sponsorship revenue plummeted by EUR 1.7 billion (USD 1.92 billion). UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, however, said there was reason for optimism with fans returning to stadiums.

“One lesson of the last two years has been that it is only by showing solidarity and working together that European football can overcome existential challenges such as the pandemic,” he said.

“This report provides sobering details of the post-pandemic challenges that await us. But whether the pandemic stays or goes, European football will stay strong, stable and united in 2022.”