German soccer’s top-flight Bundesliga and second-tier Bundesliga 2 generated revenue of over €5 billion ($5.4 billion) for the first time in the 2022-23 season, beating pre-pandemic levels.

Clubs in Germany have enjoyed a return to profitability with two-thirds of teams in the black in the last financial year after recovering from the long-term impact of Covid-19.

While many clubs are still feeling the effects of the loss in revenue during the pandemic, this represents a year-on-year increase from 18 to 23.

The top two divisions generated total revenue of €5.24 billion, a 9% increase from the previous record of €4.8 billion set in the 2018-19 season and a rise of 17% from last year (€4.48 billion).

Bundesliga clubs accounted for €4.45 billion (an average of €247 million per club), while Bundesliga 2 sides added €785.7 million.

In terms of club revenue, the Bundesliga cemented its position in second place among the top five European leagues, after the English Premier League.

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The €4.45 billion figure for the 2022-23 season is a record for the Bundesliga and marks an increase of over 23% compared to the previous 2021-22 campaign (€3.61 billion). 16 clubs, two more than the previous season, reported revenue of more than €100 million.

The rise has been attributed to several factors, including a return to having fans in stadiums without restrictions for all 612 matches throughout a Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 season for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

Income from ticket sales in the Bundesliga, therefore, almost doubled from €276 million to €536.5 million and contributed 12.05% of the overall revenue.

Media was again the largest revenue sector (34.32%) and increased significantly by 10% from €1.38 billion to €1.52 billion. A key reason is that the distribution of domestic media rights fees by the DFL (the German league body) to the clubs is subject to a sliding scale throughout a rights period (currently 2021-22 to 2024-25) and increases from year to year.

In the current rights cycle, domestic live rights to Bundesliga action are shared between pay-TV giant Sky Deutschland, streaming heavyweight DAZN, ProSiebenSat.1, and Sport1. These deals are worth, in total, around €1.1 billion annually.

The Bundesliga also brought in record commercial revenue of €1.12 billion, up 21%, and thus exceeded the €1 billion mark for the first time.

In total, media rights, commercial, and matchday income together accounted for more than 70% of the Bundesliga’s total revenue.

The league also brought in €231.6 million in merchandise sales.

The Bundesliga recorded positive results for the entire league again for the first time since the 2018-19 season, with the figure up by almost €240 million on the previous season to €44.3 million. 12 of the 18 clubs ended the 2022-23 campaign with a profit, up from eight in the previous season.

Meanwhile, the 18 Bundesliga 2 clubs generated the second-highest total revenue in the league’s history for the 2022-23 season after setting a record of €867.8 million in the previous campaign.

Similarly to the Bundesliga, income from ticket sales climbed significantly from €126 million to €167 million after the restrictions on spectator numbers imposed during the pandemic were lifted.

Media revenue came in at €251.2 million, while commercial income accounted for €145 million.

Additionally, public funds at federal, state, and local level also benefited from the strong financial year in German soccer as a record figure of more than €1.6 billion in taxes and duties were paid by the 36 clubs in the 2022-23 season.

The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have contributed a total of more than €12.6 billion in taxes and duties over the past 10 years.

Marc Lenz DFL co-chief executive, said: “With a personnel cost ratio below 50% and larger investments in youth academies, German clubs are sustainable and much healthier financially than other top European leagues.

“Sporting success and attractive leagues must remain achievable with economic efficiency – as the future, healthy standard in Europe. Therefore, in addition to strong central marketing, effective financial and ownership rules in the international and national scope remain crucial for our German model.”

Last month, the DFL was given the go-ahead to issue domestic media rights tender documents to interested parties for the next cycle after the country’s Federal Cartel Office officially ratified the scrapping of the no single-buyer rule.

As a result, the rights auction for the 2025-26 to 2028-29 period is now on course to begin in mid-April. The DFL set the tender process in motion in mid-January by asking interested firms to register.

Also in February, the DFL was forced to again abandon plans to bring in private equity investment, following mass fan protests.

The league body announced its plans to bring in an outside equity partner – which would have taken a share of up to 8% in the broadcast rights of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 over 20 years, for around €1 billion – will be discontinued.

This came with the DFL having narrowed down potential partners to only CVC Capital Partners (who already have similar tie-ups with Spain’s LaLiga and France’s Ligue 1) over the last couple of weeks.

However, widespread fan protests against the prospect of outside investment in the DFL took place over several matchdays, with supporters having disrupted matches – including several high-profile fixtures featuring the country’s biggest clubs – by throwing tennis balls and various other objects onto the pitch, to register their disapproval of the plans.

This is despite many of the country's top-tier clubs – at a board level – being in favor of outside investment.

Bayer Leverkusen are on course to win their first Bundesliga title this season as they sit 10 points clear of Bayern Munich – who have won 11 consecutive championships – with eight games to go.