Europe's top clubs face 2 billion euros revenue hit from pandemic - Deloitte

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(Reuters) - Europe's elite soccer clubs are expected to miss out on over 2 billion euros ($2.43 billion) in revenue by the end of the 2020-21 season due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Deloitte's Football Money League.

The report published on Tuesday said the figure includes amounts missed in 2019-20 when the top 20 highest-earning clubs in Europe earned 8.2 billion euros of combined revenue, which was down 12% on the previous season.

That drop in income of 1.1 billion euros was primarily down to the deferral of broadcast revenue into the financial year ending in 2021, with all the major leagues brought to a standstill in March last year due to the pandemic.

With the majority of games being played without spectators since June, matchday revenue for top European clubs is likely to remain close to zero until the end of the 2020-21 season.

"Matchday operations are a cornerstone of a club's business model and help drive other revenue-generating activity," Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said.

"The final size of the financial impact of the pandemic on football will depend, in no small part, on the timing and scale of fans' return."

The Money League standings for 2019-20 remained broadly consistent with previous years as Barcelona held the top spot with an annual revenue of 715.1 million euros.

The Catalan outfit, however, suffered the second largest revenue fall among the clubs featuring on the list, having delivered a record-breaking year in 2018-19 when they became the first club to break the 800 million euros revenue barrier.

Real Madrid reported an 8% increase in commercial income to retain second spot in the rankings (714.9 million euros), while European champions Bayern Munich moved up to third (634.1 million euros) following a treble-winning campaign.

($1 = 0.8247 euros)

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)