The year 2020 will go down in history books as one that brought unmitigated misery on the human race. The still-raging COVID-19 pandemic has not only wreaked havoc on human lives but has also destroyed or severely hampered global businesses, with the football world being no exception.
With smaller football clubs struggling to stay afloat, big clubs like Barcelona asking players to take pay-cuts and most football teams failing to do their 'usual' business in this transfer window (except, of course, Chelsea), it is pertinent to look at the business side of the game right now.
Some of the veritable giants of the game like Juventus have tried to offload superstar players with high salaries to reduce their wage bills in this milieu.
And with UEFA recently bringing out their latest Benchmarking Report a few weeks ago, it will be interesting to take a look at which of the Goliaths of the game are in the most debt right now.
Often, football clus with long-term business plans run into debts despite making huge revenues. On most occasions, they manage to recoup their losses. But sometimes, things go haywire. They are declared bankrupt, go into administration and face severe sanctions like relegation or docking of points due to financial profligacy.
With that in mind and with the burgeoning recession caused by the pandemic still looming over us, we take a look at the five football clubs with the most debt right now.
5 football clubs with the highest debt:
#5: Juventus – €372m
No surprises here. Juventus have been the top football club in Italy for years and have won the Seria A title nine times in a row.
However, their Champions League ambitions have often bordered on desperation, something that led them to acquire the services of the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo on a humongous €100 million transfer from Real Madrid.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Juventus, like many other football clubs, have asked players to take wage cuts as they have players like Ronaldo, Matthijs de Ligt and Paulo Dybala who draw huge wages and dent the football club's finances.
The Bianconeri had a wage bill of €8.55 million ($10.11 million) last season, which was more than that of the next two Serie A clubs (AS Roma and Inter Milan) combined. Despite making a profit of €39.8 million ($47 million) last year, Juventus' transfer fees, wages and development work of the Allianz Arena has led to a debt of €372m - a situation that the Italian football giant will hope to turn around as soon as possible.
#4: Atletico Madrid – €384m
Atletico Madrid also went Juventus' way last summer; they spent a fortune in the transfer window before the pandemic wrecked havoc. They bought Joao Felix for €126 million and also added the likes of Marcos Llorente and Kieran Trippier during a pretty significant inflow of incoming players.
However, the football club has been reportedly liquidating assets to pay off debts but still have some way to go. Therefore, selling off big players and reducing their wage bill are important priorities for the Rojiblancos this season, apart from success on the pitch.
Like other football clubs in this list, Atletico have also gone the pay-cut way and have managed to significantly reduce their debt. However, they are still paying for their new, lavish stadium and have the highest-paid coach in world football in Diego Simeone, who has delivered their best era but was also paid €40 million last season, which was almost €10 million more than the next man on the list - Antonio Conte.