Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2013

The Udinese selling model – Is it the right way for them to operate?

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If you dream of becoming the Javier Zanetti or Francesco Totti of , you might as well stay mediocre.

Any player that stands out of the group will invariably have his name listed on the mercato as made evident in recent years by the selling of Gaetano D’Agostino, Marco Motta, Simone Pepe in 2010; , Gokhan Inler, in 2011; , , in 2012; and Pablo Armero this past month. One of the few exceptions to the norm is the 35 year old, back to back copacannoiere, .

Despite cashing-in on many good players, coach Francesco Guidolin has steered the club to impressive heights – the Zebrette finished third in 2011-12, and narrowly lost against in the two legged Champions League qualifying play offs. In the 2010-11 season, the Bianconeri finished fourth with a total of 66 points – a club record.

The Udine outfit might have struggled to establish themselves as a ‘big club’ given their transfer policy, but off the field, they have been exemplary in balancing their books. In fact, Udinese are one of the few clubs in Europe and the only club in the top flight of Italian football that currently meet the requirements of the financial fair play.

Profit from transfers

12/13 Revenue – 36.200.000 € Expenditure – 25.400.000 € Total = +10.800.000 €

11/12 Revenue – 70.250.000 € Expenditure – 21.111.000 € Total = +49.139.000 €

10/11 Revenue – 30.290.000 € Expenditure – 13.550.000 € Total = +16.740.000 €

09/10 Revenue – 36.150.000 € Expenditure – 18.333.000 € Total = +17.817.000 €

08/09 Revenue – 34.900.000 € Expenditure – 20.100.000 € Total = +14.800.000 €

According to a report published in June, 2012, ’s (the owner of Udinese, and ) club made a profit of nine million euros in the 2011-12 season, with revenues that exceeded € 60 million. Television rights constituted 56.4 percent of the total revenue – not too much by Italian standards – reflecting the self-financing capacity of the club as ticket revenues are diminutive in Serie A, as compared to other countries.

The club owns the rights of about a hundred athletes, many of whom have been loaned out in a bid to provide them with regular playing time. As of June 2012, the total market value of the 36 players in the squad was € 102 million. Informal estimates suggest that the club was able to add a €46 million value to their players in the past couple of years.

The total revenue in 2011-2012 totaled € 63,4 million, an improvement of € 8.9 from the previous year. Net income including TV rights from playing in the Europa league was € 5.3 million, while sponsorship deals generated another € 5 million.

Television rights amounted to € 35.8 million, an increment of € 1.3 million from the previous year. In the current season, this figure is expected to rise to € 41 million.

Management costs shot up to € 91.2 million from €76 million in 2011, but were partly canceled out by a significant growth in capital gains from €41.9 million to €57.5 million, thanks to some high profile transfers.

The report also mentions a loss of €7 million incurred on transfer deficits of some players, as well as €20 million depreciation on player values, which reflects the club’s far-sighted planning. However, net gain from player transfers was almost €50 million in 2011.

To sum, net profit after tax was €8.8 million, a sharp increase from €2.9 in 2011. The success of the management’s strategy, which focuses on player scouting and development, technical risk reduction, careful use of the resources and synergy between the operational areas is unquestionable.

Fans might be venting out their frustration over the loss of their star players and the lack of silverware as a result of compromising quality for profit, but for a club of Udinese’s stature, with modest ambitions, emphasizing on long term sustainability is the right approach.

Talks of a new Stadio Friuli have been ongoing for some time, and if the Friuliani were to move to their own home, it would ensure them the right platform to aim for trophies.

New Stadio Friuli

Follow Swarup Pokhrel on Twitter: @argeniter

About the Author

Swarup Pokhrel

- Much like arts and music, football for me is a way of expression. The individual flair of the Argentines is as much intriguing to me as the cynical (or pragmatic) defending of the Italians. Started watching Serie A around the mid nineties to follow the great Oruindi of the time. After all these years, still stuck in the debate between aesthetics and pragmatism. Always up for a few drinks and lively football conversation so feel free to follow me on twitter @argeniter or add me up on Facebook!

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