The Osaka Evessa topped all 36 clubs in revenue in the inaugural B. League season last year with about ¥1.17 billion, followed by the Tochigi Brex, Kawasaki Brave Thunders and Chiba Jets, the league revealed earlier this week.
Osaka, a West Division club, earned over ¥700 million from its sponsors to boost its total revenue. Teams like the Brave Thunders (Toshiba) and SeaHorses Mikawa (Aisin) presumably received a large amount from their parent companies in sponsor fees to contribute to their total revenues as well.
By contrast, popular teams like the Brex, Jets and Ryukyu Golden Kings, who always have been professional entities, led the pack in revenue from ticket sales.
The Jets, who had the biggest attendance per home game in the 2016-17 season with 4,501, led the league making about ¥281 million from ticket sales. The Brex earned about ¥272 million.
Actually, the Jets made a strenuous effort to attract sponsors as well, and made a profit of around ¥418 million, which was the fourth most in the top division.
The fiscal terms were different depending on the club. All the former company-owned teams set their closing dates in March, just like most regular companies in Japan, while most of the other clubs end their fiscal terms in June.
So those former major industrial clubs could have had bigger numbers on their balance sheets had they added their earnings from April and May.
Osaka had its closing date in March.
So although the average revenue in the top division was about ¥642 million, B. League chairman Masaaki Okawa said at a news conference at the league office that the actual figure would be around ¥700 million.
Meanwhile, the Levanga Hokkaido, Albirex Niigata BB and Shiga Lakestars are in a state of insolvency, while the Alvark Tokyo and Niigata showed a deficit. A total of 12 clubs in the 18-team second division were in the red.
The B. League applies a club license system like soccer’s J. League, which implemented in 2011, to encourage clubs to run their teams as soundly as possible. First- and second-division clubs are required to have proper club licenses meeting several criteria, including financial status.
Okawa said that he was optimistic that Levanga, Niigata and Shiga would resolve their financial situation to retain their licenses to play in the 2018-19 season.
According to the B. League, the J. League had 11 clubs, including the second division, that were in a state of insolvency in 2011 yet have had zero such clubs in the last three seasons. The B. League hopes to have the same results with its clubs.
Okawa summarized that the financial results from year one of the new league were “not too bad” overall. Yet he is far from satisfied.
According to the league, the top-division clubs earned 21.9 percent of their entire revenues from ticket sales, which it thinks is too low. But Okawa is encouraging the clubs to work on increasing their fan base to improve that ratio.
“It would be ideal to eventually have the ratio at one-third apiece among the ticket sales and sponsor money and everything else,” said Okawa, who was a former employee of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. and a standing director for the J. League.
The B. League also distributes dividends to each of the clubs, and the clubs that put effort into attracting more fans and creating bigger a fan base receive more.
Popular clubs like Chiba, Tochigi and Ryukyu made the most amount of revenues from their ticket sales. The Jets were the highest-earning team with ¥281 million. Tochigi and Ryukyu followed with about ¥271 million and ¥228 million, respectively. Okawa praised these clubs, calling them “honor students.”
The 18 top-division clubs generated about ¥1.5 billion in the first year. The league, aiming to legitimately become one of the major professional sports in Japan along with baseball (Nippon Professional Baseball) and soccer (J. League) in the future, is looking to double that figure in the 2020-21 season, following the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The circuit also sets its attendance goal to surpass 3 million in the 2020-21 season from 2.26 million in the 2016-17 campaign.
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