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Last year's Dutch champion premier league's only healthy club

Soccer clubs suffer financial woes

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - The financial details of the fiscal year 2009-2010 tabled by Dutch soccer federation KNVB recently are nothing but alarming, showing a combined operational loss of 71,8 million euros for the 18 clubs in the premier league, up from 35 million the year before. Over 2007-2008, the clubs turned a profit of 64 million euros.

Analysts generally agree that the era of exorbant salaries paid to professional soccer players in the Netherlands had to stop. For years, premier division clubs were outbidding each other for the best players, but now that foreign clubs have also run out of money, Dutch clubs are unable to offload expensive players abroad.

Soccer clubs have turned into huge enterprises handling hundreds of millions of euros a year. While many professional soccer players are multimillionaires by the age of twenty, only one out of the 18 Dutch Premier League clubs enjoys financial health. This honour is due to last year’s Premier League champion FC Twente. Six clubs of the 18 have been placed under trusteeship, the other 11 are under financial supervision.

The main cause of the financial malaise in soccer is huge salaries. In some clubs, salaries make up 80 percent of the entire budget. Dutch clubs are no longer able to off-set shortfalls by selling player contracts for huge amounts in an overheated transfer market. The top ten European clubs have accumulated debts amounting to 4.4 billion Euros, while television rights and advertising revenue have slumped.

Not all is lost, analysts note. Dutch clubs have hardly any debts and should be able to restructure their affairs so they can remain profitable.