The day when the Portuguese Professional Football Yearbook is presented, now in its third edition, serves as a ramp to a balance of what was an absolutely atypical, challenging and absolute overcoming season. This is an important management tool that Liga Portugal, a pioneer in this type of studies in our country, develops in partnership with EY, and makes available to Clubs and all those interested in measuring the impact that the Football Industry currently has in the country's economy. And how significant it is already!
In the 2018-19 season, the Portugal League and Sports Societies generated 851 million euros in turnover, 244 million euros more than in the previous season, having contributed about 549 million euros to Portuguese GDP, an increase 40% (!) in relation to the same period and which represents 0,27% of the national GDP.
Today Professional Football is much more than just a game, but also a business activity in which 34 companies contribute more than 150 million euros in taxes to the State Budget. The vision of Football as an Industry, which we always defend, was further reinforced with the adhesion of Liga Portugal to the list of CIP members, to whom I cannot leave a word of thanks in the person of its President, António Saraiva.
The impact and the way in which our activity today interacts with the Portuguese economy, as well demonstrated in the data in the yearbook that we release today, reinforces our already assumed ambition that the Football industry will also be under the responsibility of the Minister of Economy, in a double tutelage with the Ministry of Education and the Secretariat of State for Youth of Sport.
The business dimension of Professional Football, on the other hand, brings added responsibilities to the role of Liga Portugal as organizer and regulator of this activity. It is in this sense that, over the past 5 years, we have followed a path guided by the demands, rigor and transparency not only of the management of the League, but also of the licensing for the participation of Sports Societies in professional competitions. The Manual that contemplates the assumptions of a financial, legal and structural nature had an increasing increase in rigor and demand, the same happened with salary control, now evaluated four times a year. Both determining, by express will of the abiding Sports Societies, a tougher sanctioning regime that cannot fail to be applied.
However, in the name of transparency, there is an urgent need for a speedy review of the current Legal Framework for Sports Societies. So that sports bodies can have the necessary skills for a greater scrutiny of potential investors prior to their entry into the share capital of Sports Societies.
We ended the season, two months later than originally planned, after a recovery process that was perceived as smooth and calm, but that only happened due to the exhaustive and detailed work of the League team and the clubs, in harmony with the Management. General of Health and FPF.
From the first hour, and despite all the uncertainty that the pandemic caused, we focused on the publicly assumed conviction of the end of our time in the field. We got a share.
It was worth not giving up. Once the season is over, it is imperative to share a sincere word of recognition with all Sports Societies for having also believed in the resumption of competitions, for always being available for dialogue and seeking solutions, even with sporadic different visions, as is the prerogative of any democratic debate of ideas, and in a spirit that was decisive for the realization on the field, and in the overwhelming majority of stadiums, of the 34 days of the Liga NOS 2019-20.
The way in which this whole process took place and the scrupulous compliance with all the defined protocol, made professional football a strong example of responsible conduct for the whole of Portuguese society, something that I was deeply proud of.
The end of the Liga NOS allowed to alleviate the financial catastrophe that hung over the clubs, with losses that could amount to 318,5 million euros, if the season had not ended. Even so, we cannot fail to note that, with the last 10 matches of the Liga NOS held without an audience, the expected yield drops are in the order of 127 million euros.
An immeasurable value that reveals a weakness that, in 2020, Portuguese Professional Football should not have! Covid-19 highlighted, even more, some of the vulnerabilities existing in the sector, signaling, at the top of this list, the obligation to move, at once, towards the adoption of recognized international models, without which the competition regulator will remain inoperative in the search for solutions that defend the financial sustainability of Sports Societies and the reduction of growing asymmetries between clubs belonging to the same competition.
The season that is now beginning brings with it a clear objective for Liga Portugal and its President: to bring the public back to the stadiums!
Making it clear that public health will always come first, it becomes incomprehensible that Sport as an entertainment activity that it is, is being marginalized in relation to all other leisure and culture.
We need the vibration of the chants of the followers of the warmth of their celebrations and the strength of their passions!
We cannot be silent when observing that all cultural activities, including bullfighting (!), Have, well, received the green light to receive spectators and a different criterion for sports shows is maintained, with the impact that this has on the financial plan for the industry.
The 2020-21 season will be, perhaps, the one with the most uncertainties and challenges ever raised in its initial start. In terms of sports, we are faced with a hard and compact schedule, which required a lot of reflection and compromises at the time of its construction, as evidenced by the reduction of the Allianz Cup from 45 to 7 games this season. It is time to stabilize the current competitive frameworks, while protecting and enhancing the participation of Portuguese teams in Europe.
The management path of Liga Portugal necessarily has to be more entrepreneurial, centered on a President and an Executive Board, with specialized areas in a hierarchy of competent and professional services. The advisory body will be a Council of Presidents, however it is up to the “company” (Liga Portugal) to manage the destinations of its activity.
A new and more modern management will help the Liga Portugal to meet the major European Leagues. Without prejudice to this personal conviction, I cannot fail to give a word of acknowledgment to the representatives of the Sports Societies that have made this journey with me over the past 5 years.
The season has already begun, the convictions are renewed and the path will be taken together!