AMID talk in recent months that Russian owner Roman Abramovich may be tiring of project Chelsea, and indeed the UK, the club he bought in 2003 has posted record revenues for the year ended June 30, 2018.
For the first time in the club’s history, revenues went above £ 400 million to £ 443 million. Furthermore, the club posted a profit for only the fourth time since Abramovich took over.
The timing of the announcement is appropriate given that the next transfer window has opened and Chelsea, among others, are looking to bolster their playing resources with some new signings. Chelsea were quick off the mark in securing Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £ 58 million, a transfer that looks a little excessive for a 20 year-old.
The club’s financial performance, despite the positive revenues and the profit of £ 62 million, also highlights the club is in danger of falling behind its London rivals in terms of matchday income. With the redevelopment of Stamford bridge on hold, Chelsea remain locked into a 41,000 stadium rather than a ground with a capacity approaching 60,000 – which Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham will all benefit from by the end of 2018-19.
That said, Chelsea’s matchday revenues increased by £ 8.4 million while commercial revenues rose by £ 32 million and broadcasting income went up by £ 41.7 million to £ 204.1 million.
By comparison, in 2016-17, Arsenal’s matchday income totalled £ 100 million and Manchester United’s were even higher. It is difficult to see how Chelsea can grow matchday revenues without a bigger stadium.
Chelsea’s revenues were buoyed by a profit on player sales of £ 113 million, which included the £ 50 million disposal of Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid in the January window in 2018. Other significant sales included the £ 17.3 million deal that sent Juan Cuadrado to Juventus, the £ 40 million sale of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and Nathan Ake’s move to Bournemouth for £ 20 million. Chelsea also spent £ 250 million-plus on new players.
With the news breaking over the New Year holiday, Chelsea fans will be hoping that some more money will be found to inject some new life into the club’s bid for a Champions League place in 2018-19. A striker would appear to be top of the shopping list.
Inevitably, rumours will continue into 2019 about Abramovich’s long-term commitment to Chelsea, but should he decide to dispose of his asset, the club would be valued at more than £ 1.5 billion. Supporters of rival clubs have wasted no time in declaring that without Abramovich, Chelsea would dramatically decline, but there will surely be no shortage of buyers for a club that has won every major honour since 2004 and has enjoyed UEFA Champions League football in virtually every campaign since the Russian oligarch bought the club. However, Chelsea’s financial advantages have been eroded by clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-German over the past decade and Abramovich’s wealth is not as significant as it was back in 2004.
Chelsea’s commercial director has said he wants to double the club’s revenues in the next 10 years. It would seem they have made a good start on that journey.