Brøndby IF

17 June 2022 - 12:43 PM



Danish club takes top spot: Off The Pitch announce the top financial performers of 2021

  • Off The Pitch crowns the most financially-sustainable football club in European football, based on a set of weighted proportional metrics.
  • 2021 was arguably the most difficult financial year ever in football. For some it became a great year financially, but for most clubs it was a catastrophe.
  • Why it matters: Financial sustainability is here to stay – and those who stand out should be acknowledged.
  • The perspective: 2021 was overshadowed by Covid-19, but our index found smaller clubs to be vastly more successful in dealing with the financial challenges than the ones at the top of European football.

Off The Pitch is once again crowning the top-performing clubs, in financial terms, of the past year by applying a weighted model of EBITDA margin, return on assets and equity ratio to 185 European clubs. 

To create a level playing field, metrics are proportional, therefore mostly offsetting size deficiencies. Clubs who include transfer revenue in total turnover have been excluded, as this would inflate EBITDA margins. 

It is difficult to think of a worse financial nightmare than 2021 for a football club. However, those doing well on the pitch with limited resources have experienced a financial boost, typically due to UEFA prize money and increased success on the transfer market.

But who are the most financially-sustainable clubs in European football?

Brøndby IF are ranked number one, after a historic financial year covering European football and their first championship in 16 years.

The Danish club, who have fostered players such as Michael and Brian Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel and Daniel Agger, had an EBITDA margin of 25 per cent, noticeably boosted by income from reaching the Europe League group stages this autumn. 

Additionally, the sale of Jesper Lindstrøm to Eintracht Frankfurt increased the bottom line to a net profit margin of 29 per cent, up from a significant deficit the year prior. This effectively pushed the club’s return on assets up to 24 per cent – which is the highest in Europe in 2021.  

Scandinavian success stories and old faces

This year, three clubs from Scandinavia make it into the top 10 most financially-sustainable clubs in Europe, and all three became champions in their respective leagues, namely Brøndby IF in the Danish Superliga, Bodø/Glimt in the Norwegian Eliteserien and Malmö FF in the Swedish Allsvenskan. 

All three clubs’ financials cover the calendar year 2021, which is why the accounts are boosted by both title wins, and European football in all three cases. 

A couple of regulars from Off The Pitch’s celebration of financial performers from the year before are also in the top 10 in 2021, with Hibernian being among top 10 most sustainable clubs for the second year in a row. 

Eibar and Atalanta notch up three consecutive top spots, finishing tenth and fourth respectively. While Eibar just missed out on a return to LaLiga in the semi-finals of promotion play-offs, Atalanta also struggled in the recently-concluded season finishing eighth, thereby missing out on European football for the first time with manager Gasperini in charge. 

If anyone is curious as to the name of the worst financial performer - it’s Sheffield Wednesday.