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Europe's top-division clubs made profit for first time in 2017 - UEFA

European football's top-division clubs made a profit for the first time on record in 2017 as their collective revenue surpassed €20 billion ($23.10bn), UEFA research showed.

European football's governing body attributed the success to its financial fair play break-even rule and said that when it was introduced in 2011, clubs had made a collective loss of €1.7bn.

A UEFA report showed revenue for the 2017 financial year was a record €20.1bn, an increase of €1.6bn over the previous year. The overall profit, after transfers and financial costs, was €600 million.

Europe has 711 top-division clubs divided among its 54 national leagues. UEFA said that 27 of those leagues were profitable.

The financial fair play rule was introduced to stop clubs spending beyond their generated revenue -- a policy designed to prevent rich owners from trying to buy success and distorting the transfer market.

Teams can be thrown out of European competition for breaching the rules but UEFA has generally negotiated settlements with offending clubs.

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"Thanks to financial fair play, European football is healthier than ever before," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement, adding that the figures showed that the rule "clearly works."

"Financial fair play has provided the platform for clubs to control their costs and pay their debts," he said.

UEFA tightened the rules this year and any clubs who spend more than around €100m in a transfer window are automatically assessed.

"The new regulations will further allow UEFA to act more swiftly and anticipate problems before they become too big," Ceferin said. "UEFA will now immediately react and proactively assess the clubs' ability to meet the rules in the future."

AC Milan were thrown out of the Europa League this season by UEFA for falling foul of the rules but successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

CAS said the situation had improved since United States hedge fund Elliott Management took control of the indebted club from Chinese businessman Li Yonghong, and instructed UEFA to impose an alternative sanction on the club.

However, UEFA sources said that could not be done at the moment as officials had not received the full grounds for the CAS decision.

Premier League clubs had the biggest joint revenue of €5.34bn, an increase of €452m from the year before. They also had the highest operating profits on record of €1.19bn, UEFA's research showed.

Serie A clubs made a net profit of 3.7 percent, mainly due to a swing from transfer losses to profits, ending a run of seven years of losses. Their reached €2.1bn, although only 10 percent of that came from gate receipts -- a reflection of the poor state of Italian stadiums, many of which are mainly owned by municipal governments.


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