Credit: AFP - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/M.Didė
Credit AFP - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/M.Didė

BasketNews compiled research of the approximate budgets and payrolls of the EuroLeague clubs in the 2021-22 season.

Two Spanish teams top the EuroLeague, holding the biggest total budget per collected data.

According to their official economic reports, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona started the season with around €44M budget.

More precisely, Real have a slightly bigger budget (€44M versus €43.5M), and both Spanish teams spend around €19M (NET) for players' and coaches' salaries.

Real's payroll should be even higher now since Gabriel Deck returned to Madrid in January.

But despite Spanish clubs leading the EuroLeague by total budget, there is a bigger spender in payroll.

CSKA Moscow spends around €22M in payroll, while their entire budget is around €33M. A friendlier tax system in Russia helps them spend more money on salaries.

AX Armani Exchange Milan was the fourth and last team to meet the €30M mark. However, their payroll was way smaller than the Top 3 EuroLeague spenders.

Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade sits at the bottom. Their projected budget is one-fifth of Real or Barcelona budgets.

These numbers were thoroughly researched with dozens of official and unofficial sources around the league and all 18 teams, who provided the highest accuracy picture of team budgets.

After collecting this data, BasketNews surveyed several team representatives who expressed concerns about some clubs that presented lower figures. 

The feedback BasketNews received around the EuroLeague clubs raised most questions over Russian and Turkish teams' numbers.

One of the biggest challenges occurred estimating Anadolu Efes Istanbul's financial situation. Sources around the EuroLeague suggest that Efes budget might be in the range of €30-40M. However, sources from Turkey affirm it's no more than €25M.

Free throws this season

73%
10,0
Points made: 10,0
Accuracy: 73,5%
Place in standings: 18
Record max: 24
Record min: 1
Most made FTs: Mario Hezonja

But if any of the numbers were confirmed by EuroLeague clubs, BasketNews had to rely on official information rather than the calculations and evaluations of people outside the organization.

This list can't be considered as the EuroLeague budget's ranking. BasketNews leave 10% room for error that could impact the team's order.

Also, you have to consider that some of the data were collected from the season's starting point. Some clubs made significant roster changes during the first half of the season.

The only missing team on the list is Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. According to L'Equipe and Basket le Mag reports in recent years, their pre-Covid budget was around €16M. However, Baskonia didn't show any interest in cooperating for this research. The range of potential Basque team numbers predicted by BasketNews sources was too wide to present in this report.

To understand these numbers better, it's necessary to know the financial conditions that separate 18 EuroLeague teams country by country. You can find a detailed explanation below this table.

Team Total budget (gross) Players/coaches salaries (net) Salaries (gross)
Real Madrid €44M €19.2M €35M
Barcelona €43.5M €18.8M €36.1M
CSKA €33M €22.1M €25M
Armani Exchange €30M €11M €19M
Anadolu Efes €25M €15M -
Fenerbahce €24M €13.5M -
Zenit
€23M €12M €17.7M
Bayern €21M €5.3M €10M
Maccabi €18M €7M €10.6M
ASVEL €15.1M €4M €7.5M
Olympiacos
€15M €8.5M -
UNICS €15M €6.5M -
Monaco €14.7M €5.8M -
ALBA €11M €3M €5.5M
Zalgiris €10M €4.3M €7.2M
Panathinaikos €9.5M €5.5M -
Crvena Zvezda €8.4M €5.2M €6M
Baskonia - - -

Explaining the numbers

Even though few EuroLeague clubs expressed an idea of presenting financial numbers publicly for all participating teams, the level of NBA transparency still remains a big dream for European basketball.

EuroLeague teams' budgets research is one of the most challenging topics in Europe due to a few reasons.

First of all, only a handful of clubs, such as Zalgiris Kaunas, hold official press conferences to present and discuss their financial situation in depth. Some teams, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, provide their detailed financial report on their official website.

On the other hand, many teams are very closed and consider their financial situation as top-secret information that doesn't rely on public interest. For example, some clubs completely ignored us on this research, even if we asked only to confirm or deny our calculations.

Every country has its own taxation system, making the research even more difficult. 

EuroLeague's income tax rates start at 12% and 13% in Serbia and Russia (for foreign players) respectively and rise close to 50% in Germany, Spain, France, or Israel.

Let's look at some EuroLeague destinations and how much it costs to sign a foreign player over there if his salary is €100k net for the season.

  • France/Germany ≈ €180-190k
  • Italy ≈ €150k
  • Israel ≈ €150k (local player ≈ €200k)
  • Barcelona ≈ €148k
  • Lithuania ≈ €140k
  • Russia ≈ €113k (local player up to ≈ €140k)
  • Serbia ≈ €112k

Things are even more confusing because the same country can have different taxation in different regions. For example, due to its Basque Country taxation system, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz spends almost half as much as Real Madrid or FC Barcelona on taxes.

In some countries, the taxation is different for local and foreign players. For example, in Russia, the tax rate for local players is about 40%. Meanwhile, for foreigners, it's only 13%. The vast difference applies to Israel, where you have to spend 50% more for a local player.

Germany and France are well known as the countries with the highest taxes in the EuroLeague. For example, in France, the more time you spend in the country, the bigger taxes become.

Also, you have to consider other things. For example, FC Bayern Munich employs around 70-80 workers in their headquarters. Maccabi Tel Aviv also have a big office with a lot of employees.

Meanwhile, AS Monaco's administration includes only a few people. They share some responsibilities with the Principality of Monaco or buy services from outside companies instead of hiring people for the club because it's cheaper.

For example, Bayern's total budget is €21M, close to Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Zenit St. Petersburg. Due to different taxation and economic conditions, the German powerhouse spends €7-8M less on payroll than their opponents from Russia and Turkey.

To imagine the difference, it's worth mentioning that per official authorities, in 2021, the average gross salary in Munich was €4.5k per month (around 3.3k in Tel Aviv). For comparison, in Istanbul, it's around €500.

Also, things like players' accommodation might turn into huge expenses. While in some cities you can afford a solid apartment for €500-1000, rent in Monaco can cost you tens of thousands of euros.

Such clubs like Barcelona or Real get help from their football branch, which uses a bigger budget and more human resources.

It also brings another interesting topic discussed among EuroLeague teams, which is the sponsorship distribution between the football and basketball clubs. 

Also, some clubs are convinced that a couple of other teams split their contracts into employment and image agreements, which helps to avoid higher taxes.

Few EuroLeague executives mentioned that it's not clear if it goes along with the EuroLeague Financial Fair Play Regulations.

 

Some data provided in the table might differ because of local issues. For example, the Turkish lira collapse impacts Turkish teams to recalculate their budget every month. 

Per BasketNews sources, Turkish clubs started the season with one budget. Still, they had to find additional millions of euros to meet the estimated budget projection since the lira dropped to record lows. Currency rate changes also impact Russian clubs.

Also, some teams have bonuses already included in their potential expenses in this table, so the numbers could decrease if some teams won't reach their goals.

To have the best picture, BasketNews split the figures into three categories: total budget (gross), net salaries (players and coaches combined), and gross salaries.

That shows how much money some clubs need just to operate the basketball team and how huge the financial gap is between the richest and poorest clubs. For example, Real, Barcelona, or CSKA are on approximately €20M payroll. Meanwhile, ALBA Berlin have to build a team with €3M.

It's also important to mention the part of the gross budget that impacts the US players' taxation. For example, technically, a €500k salary in Spain or Germany for the US player is equivalent to €800k in Turkey or Russia.

Why? When the US player comes home, he has to declare his income. Spanish, German, and French clubs pay around 50% taxes, which is very close to most of the regions of the US. But suppose they play in Russia, Turkey, Monaco, or other areas with team-friendly taxation. In that case, players have to cover the difference between the taxation at their home state and the country they played.

So, for example, if Turkish clubs pay 20% taxes, the player in the US should cover the rest 30%.

These were only a few of the main obstacles that took months to collect this data. 

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