LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League clubs enjoyed a record 5.2 billion pounds ($6.65 billion) of revenue in the 2018-19 season, according to data released by Deloitte on Thursday, but income is expected to decline in the short-term due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The English top flight reinforced its reputation as the richest soccer league in the world by posting a 7% year-on-year increase in revenue, primarily driven by UEFA distributions to the clubs.
Four English clubs featured in the finals of Europe's two club competitions last season. Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur to lift the Champions League trophy, while Chelsea thrashed Arsenal to claim the Europa League title.
The novel coronavirus outbreak, however, has disrupted the 2019-20 season for the major European leagues.
The report anticipates the Premier League to lose around 1 billion pounds in revenue this season, despite plans to restart the competition on June 17.
Almost 500 million pounds will be lost permanently due to loss of matchday revenue and rebates on broadcast and commercial deals.
The other half is expected to be deferred to the 2020-21 financial year, given almost a quarter of the season will be played beyond June 30.
"Football returning – in a safe and sensible way - is clearly important to limiting the financial impact that the pandemic has had," Dan Jones, partner and head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
"Much remains uncertain, particularly around the timing and scale of the return of fans to stadiums and the impact on commercial and broadcast partners' wider businesses."
The European football market as a whole generated a record 28.9 billion euros ($32.99 billion) in the 2018-19 campaign, with the big five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy contributing 17 billion euros, a 9% increase from the previous year.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)