Money talks - cash questions for Old Lady
Considering all that Juventus have achieved in the last few seasons -- trophies, brand growth and the construction of a stadium -- many still wonder why they never seem capable of splashing the cash in the summer transfer markets. Why do Juve, who made more money than Bayern Munich did from the Champions League in 2013, need to sell an asset like Arturo Vidal in order to pay for a more complete squad?
The lack of spending is thought to be the reason Antonio Conte walked out on the club. It all remains a mystery yet one continues to wonder if the Old Lady can buy the big names or whether she is simply unwilling to do so.
Putting the club's philosophy of raising as opposed to purchasing star quality aside, the Bianconeri don't really have the kind of money you would expect. Still paying off debts and lagging behind even the likes of AC Milan when it comes to marketing their brand, their last published accounts revealed quite a lot.
Most fans were concerned with the financial impact the early exit from the Champions League would have on the Italian champions. In their accounts published on their website, the club noted: "The consequent increase in costs related to sports management, also due to the effect of winning the Serie A 2013-14 championship, will not be offset by increases in revenues, mainly following the elimination from the UEFA Champions League after the Group Stage.
"Despite the positive effects resulting from the later participation in the UEFA Europa League up to the semifinal match and the optimisation actions put in place, at present the year in progress is expected to post a loss higher than the one in 2012-13."
The last sentence says it all.
The revenue may be marginally increasing but the net financial debt is on the rise too. As of the March 31 this year, the debt stood at 198.9 million euros (it was 160.2 million in June 2013).
According to the statement this is due to the payments made in transfer fees, advances paid to the city of Turin, the various suppliers for the Continassa Project and investments in other fixed assets. Juventus have invested just under 240 million euros in the market in the past three years and as the squad improves, the operating costs increase too.
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Of course, the Bianconeri have also sold many of their players, profited greatly from their stadium and are starting to attract better sponsorship deals. But the club heavily rely on the revenue they generate from television. In fact, roughly 60 percent of their income comes from this particular avenue.
More needs to be done to ensure the club is not so dependent on this stream of revenue by growing other areas of investment. For one thing, advertising revenues including players' image rights have decreased from the previous year, even if royalties and revenues from sponsorship deals have increased. More must be done to strengthen this -- going to Asia for their summer tour is a good place to start -- as is the club's healthy appetite for growing their social media presence.
However, they must also adapt to the times. Italian fans cannot justify paying up to 120 euros for an official Juventus jersey when replicas sold outside the stadium fetch around a fifth of that figure. While counterfeiting is huge problem in Italy, one that has severely impacted club revenues, teams must find a way of alleviating the problem themselves while they wait on the authorities to help deal with the matter. For one thing, reducing their prices would make fans consider investing in the real thing, thus injuring the counterfeiting industry as well as boosting Juventus' own revenues.
The club have already raised the prices for tickets to watch the games but they must be careful not to alienate the fans who simply cannot afford to always show their support financially.
Image rights are of great value to teams. You only need to look at Real Madrid as an example -- a club that many have accused of caring more about marketing their players than winning trophies. Whatever you may think, they have finally won the European trophy they have coveted for so long and make enough money to invest in the best.
One perfect example of the importance of image rights is David Beckham and his Paris St-Germain adventure. Yes, he made a small impact on a sporting level but in truth, his signing was a masterstroke by the French team who profited handsomely from his arrival if only on an advertising level.
A study on the "Beckham Effect" at PSG calculated that each shirt sold as merchandise earned the cub about 45 pounds. The club sold approximately 10,000 shirts during January 2013 but sales of their jerseys doubled during February, when the Englishman signed.
Elsewhere, Carlos Tevez was an excellent purchase for Juventus. Not only because he has offered so much on a sporting level but because he also sells shirts and helps widen the club's appeal worldwide. People want to watch him and invest in whatever he puts his name to. Players like Angelo Ogbonna may raise the level of quality in defence (well, that's a debate for another day...) but the money paid for him will yield little return in terms of advertising and that's an area that must be explored further.
In line with Andrea Agnelli's desire for a stable club -- one that can stand on its own two feet with no debt and hopefully make 300 million euros in revenue -- then no, Juventus cannot buy the stars at the moment. If they want to raise the overall level of the squad, then a player must be sold. However, if the departure of the player ends up costing the team too much on a sporting and marketing level then it needs to be blocked.
If Vidal does go, then his price must reflect his overall importance to the club as a whole. Is such a sale really worth making?