Empty stadiums lead to lower transfer fees: ‘The entire football world spends less’

The eighteen Eredivisie clubs are only allowed to strengthen twice a year with players who switch clubs, around the summer break and around the winter break, with the current transfer period running until January 31.

About 50 players have switched clubs this winter so far, from Brian Brobbey who returned to Ajax on a rental basis to Joey Veerman who went to PSV.


In the world of football, the millions are flying around you. For example, PSV paid approximately 6 million euros for Veerman and Ajax will receive 12 million euros for Neres who is leaving for Ukraine.

Considerable amounts, but if players of this level (with contracts still running) had switched clubs a year ago, much more would have been paid.

Less income due to empty stadiums

Worldwide, the clubs are in heavy weather and it is no different in the Netherlands. Sponsorship income has remained the same, multi-year contracts are often concluded with sponsors, most of which date from pre-corona times. However, the public has not been allowed in our football stadiums for a long time and that is cutting it down considerably.

The damage was not too bad in the summer transfer period. Dutch clubs then spent 74 million euros on transfers, almost the same as in other years. The brakes were applied worldwide. According to World Football Association FIFA, there was 7.5 percent less spent.


However, considerably less money came in to the Eredivisie clubs. Especially the big Dutch clubs, where many fans come, have a lot of damage. Feyenoord, where there were about 45,000 fans per week pre-corona, saw the revenue drop by 26 million euros in the 2020/2021 football season, according to the annual report.

By cutting player salaries, by lower rent and because many fans did not want money back, 16 million euros were saved in costs, government support provided another 8 million. Still, red numbers were written.

New lockdown

The new 2021/2022 season started well, fans were welcome. However, a new lockdown was announced by the cabinet on November 13, 2021. Feyenoord was hit hardest by a make-up match that was moved from September to December. The club had to do five games without an audience since the lockdown. That costs more than a million per game, according to the club.

The Rotterdam club does not want to give details about the current finances. “We publish an annual report once a year. In the meantime, we will not make any further statements about our finances, but it should be clear that the financial consequences are still considerable,” a spokesperson told RTL Z.


Listed Ajax recorded a net loss of 8.1 million euros for the 2020/2021 financial year, while a season earlier it made almost 21 million euros profit. The net turnover of the Amsterdammers amounted to 125.2 million euros, a decrease of 37.1 million euros, mainly as a result of playing without an audience.

Ajax also does not want to provide insight into the finances and refers to the annual report. “We have no further public calculations. It is expected that the figures for the period 1 July 2021 – 31 December 2021 will be published in the second part of February,” said a spokesperson.


PSV is much more open about current finances. The lack of home games costs PSV about 1.2 million euros per game, says financial director Jaap van Baar.

“It mainly concerns missed receipts. And we also miss out on another 300,000 euros per game because there is no sale of food or drinks or merchandise sales.” A small bright spot: the club saves more than 100,000 euros, for example because no security needs to be hired and no cleaning is required.

Baker without flour

The Brabant club plays at least 17 home games in the Eredivisie every year, regardless of any cup matches and European duels. The unsold tickets and business seats alone account for at least 20 million euros in lost revenue. No wonder there is less spending this year on transfers and salaries.

“If we want to attract a player and this fits within the budget, then we will do this. You still have to buy the ingredients for your product. A baker without flour is nothing,” Van Baar makes the comparison.

“But you can see that the market is more reserved. Investments are mainly made in players who can really make a difference. For the breadth, clubs are now looking more at transfer-free players or rent or clubs are trying to fit in a youth player,” says Van Baar.


His job at PSV: keep the household book in order and ensure that the club stays healthy. “Our liquidity is good and we are still able to absorb blows. As a football club you have the advantage that many supporters have a season ticket and they pay in advance, just like the holders of a sky box or business seat. impact than at a later time, when the supporters get money back.”

In European and cup competitions this is a different story. A ticket is purchased for each match. “We had to play the games against Sturm Graz and Fortuna Sittard without an audience, where we previously had to play five European games with a limited audience.”

The impact on sponsorship income remains largely intact. After all, the matches are played and broadcast on TV and PSV can therefore simply supply most of the rights, explains Van Baar.

Business model at risk

Dutch football clubs all have the same business model. Attract players young and cheap, let them develop and try to sell with as much profit as possible.

Van Baar: “The entire football world is spending less. Research has shown that the number of player changes has remained the same, but the amount of money involved has fallen by 40 percent. We also have to anticipate that.”

government support

In November, the cabinet earmarked an extra 36 million euros in corona support for the sports sector. About 30 million euros of this went to professional football. The support covers three weeks, from 12 November to 3 December.

“With that money, we compensate supporters and business relations who have tickets. Partly then, because that 30 million euros, divided among several clubs, is not nearly enough to reimburse everything, now that the stadiums are closed longer.”

PSV will play the next home match (January 23) against Ajax, two weeks later AZ is waiting. Van Baar hopes that the public will be welcome again at the game against AZ. “You definitely want an audience with those top players, not only financially but also in terms of experience and atmosphere. You play football for your supporters.”

Eredivisie CV: ‘The stretch is out’

After the press conference on Friday evening, the Eredivisie CV sent out a statement. The professional football clubs want spectators to be allowed again at matches from 28 January.

“We can no longer play without an audience. Last season that led to a loss of more than 100 million euros for the sector. And the damage in the longer term is very serious.”

Competition abroad

According to the clubs, this affects the quality of Dutch football. “The competition with foreign countries is already very strong. In the rest of Europe the stadiums are open or partially open, while we are dealing with the same omikron variant. That makes the competitive position almost impossible,” the clubs say.

“At the moment there is not yet 100 percent compensation for all matches that we are forced to play without an audience. NOW and other generic schemes help, but are not sufficient”, according to the Eredivisie CV.

Just like other clubs, PSV has also applied for NOW (wage cost subsidy) and TVL (fixed expenses subsidy). Financial director Jaap Van Baar: “For us (2020/2021 season it concerns about 10 percent of the total turnover. At small clubs this is about 35 percent. This is because the NOW support is maximized at twice the daily wage, up to 114,000 euros (gross annual salary),” according to the financial man who worked until 2016 as Manager Finance and Control at the Eredivisie CV.

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