The trends behind U.S. Soccer's latest financial statement

U.S. Soccer posted its 2019 fiscal year financial statement on its Web site Monday, confirming what we have known for a while.

It showed a big loss. Indeed, it is likely the largest loss in federation history.

The net loss was $17,108,899 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, after accounting for almost $4 million in restricted donations.

The loss still leaves U.S. Soccer with almost $150 million -- thanks to the windfall from the organization of the 2016 Copa Centenario -- though its projected loss for fiscal year 2020 has spiked, growing to $20.3 million because of increased legal expenses, and it has budgeted deficits of $30 million or more per year in the next three years as it expands its staff and programming.

"We can't starve these programs just to maintain a reserve," U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said in February at the AGM in Scottsdale, Arizona.

(The U.S. Soccer board of directors has approved the budget for the fiscal year 2021, which should be available when the book of reports for the 2020 AGM in Nashville in February are released.)

In 2019, revenues before investment return grew $6.5 million to $108.7 million in 2019 from 2018, but expenses increased $22.6 million to $131.8 million.

The 2019 fiscal year financial statement was filed on Dec. 11, much sooner than the last two years. The 2018 fiscal year financial statement was filed on March 1, 2019, while the 2017 fiscal year financial statement wasn't filed until June 8, 2018, after the restatement of the previous year's statement due to accounting issues related to the 2016 Copa Centenario.

USMNT vs. USWNT. In light of the many issues raised in connection with the gender discrimination suit filed by members of the U.S. women's national team, the breakout of national team revenues and expenses for fiscal year 2019 attracted a lot of attention:

Revenues (2019 vs. 2018): $16,370,831 vs. $12,865,851
Expenses (2019 vs. 2018): $15,013,438 vs. $13,874,144
Opponent Fees (2019 vs. 2018): $5,506,724 vs. $875,624
Net Revenues:
($4,149,331) vs. ($1,883,917)

Revenues (2019 vs. 2018): $12,554,448 vs. $12,097,195
Expenses (2019 vs. 2018): $20,261,891 vs. $17,012,303
Net Revenues: ($7,707,443) vs. ($4,915,108)

In any year, the bottom line for the men and women will vary, depending on any number of factors.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the men's revenues increased even though they did not go to the World Cup. That's because U.S. Soccer organized international friendlies in the fall of 2018 against Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Peru, four teams that are big attractions and drew large gates. Revenues were up, but they were eaten up by appearance fees U.S. Soccer had to pay out to the opponents.

For the women, the 2019 fiscal year ended after the 2019 SheBelieves Cup but before the 12 home games they played the rest of the calendar year -- five before the Women's World Cup, five on the Victory Tour and two in November --  and it also doesn't include revenues (or expenses) related to the 2019 Women's World Cup. They will all be reflected in fiscal year 2020, which ends on March 31, 2020.

Men's revenues should be significantly down in the 2020 fiscal year because the men's national team have played only six games whose ticket revenues it controls -- two friendlies in June, two in September and the two home Concacaf Nations League games (which both drew poorly).

Youth registration fees. There was a time when youth registration fees -- the $1 organizations pay to U.S. Soccer for each player they register in a calendar year -- produced a significant portion of U.S. Soccer's revenues.

In 2005, the first year for which U.S. Soccer's financial picture is available, youth registration fee revenues were 10.9 percent of all revenues. In 2019, they represented only 3.5 percent of all revenues as national team revenues and sponsorship revenues from SUM and Nike have exploded.

But there is a worrying trend to these youth registration fee revenues. They were $3,758,592 in 2019, down almost $200,000 from 2018 and the lowest in the 15 years for which U.S. Soccer's yearly revenues are posted.

The high for youth registration fee revenues was $4,298,440 in 2010, so the decline off the high for the decade is 12.6 percent.

That doesn't mean the number of registered players is down 12.6 percent -- 4,298,440 in 2010 vs. 3,758,592 in 2019 -- because players can be registered by multiple organizations, but it's close and represents a worrying trend.

3 comments about "The trends behind U.S. Soccer's latest financial statement".
  1. Mark Levinstein, December 17, 2019 at 11:38 a.m.

    Paul - It is not useful to report USMNT and USWNT revenues without including the revenues from sponsorship, television, and licensing.  To do so creates a completely misleading picture.

  2. Bob Ashpole, December 17, 2019 at 2:35 p.m.

    Accountants can make financial statements say whatever they want. The bottom line sums are meaningless without the context in how they are determined. Especially in a year when USSF is trying to defend a lawsuit based on its unaudited financial statements, these statements are suspect.

  3. R2 Dad, December 18, 2019 at 2:13 a.m.

    Given how self-serving the USSF voting members are, I would have expected more consternation and sqwealing about the drop in registered players. Where did they go, and why?

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