Canada’s tennis revolution continued as they claimed their first Davis Cup victory over Australia to reach the semi-finals on Thursday with 150th-ranked Vasek Pospisil the hero once again.The 29-year-old recorded his third successive singles win in the revamped Finals at Madrid’s La Caja Magica, beating John Millman 7-6(7) 6-4, but Alex De Minaur levelled the tie when he recovered from a set down to beat Denis Shapovalov.Pospisil and Shapovalov joined forces in the deciding doubles rubber against Jordan Thompson and John Peers, winning 6-4 6-4 in front of several hundred delirious Canadian fans.Canada will face either Serbia or Russia in the semi-finals on Saturday.Pospisil and Shapovalov have played in every rubber so far with captain Frank Dancevic short of options.“It’s been a pretty surreal week,” he said. “I’m so proud of these guys. I mean, these two guys playing all week.“Now that we’re here, we’re going to try to go all the way.”Australia, who won the last of their 28 Davis Cup crowns in 2003, were surprisingly without Nick Kyrgios, who won both his singles matches in the group-stage wins over Colombia and Belgium, and he was sorely missed.Kyrgios, who banged down 22 aces against Belgian Steve Darcic on Wednesday, was sidelined with a collarbone injury.Canada’s tennis fortunes have soared recently and Bianca Andreescu won the U.S. Open women’s title this year.They are now in only their third Davis Cup semi-final despite arriving in Spain without injured Milos Raonic and with fast-rising teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in the squad but having played no part so far.Canada beat the United States in the group phase on Tuesday, their first victory over their neighbours in 16 attempts.Their record against Australia was almost as bad, losing all 10 of the Davis Cup ties between the two countries.But the big-serving Pospisil has been a man on a mission since arriving in the Spanish capital and gave his side a superb start as he beat 48th-ranked Millman.Pospisil was in early trouble and trailed 4-1 but he battled back to force a tiebreak in which he saved two set points before taking the opener.The second set went with serve until Pospisil found two stunning forehands when Millman served at 4-5 to claim the win.Shapovalov played superbly in the opening set to overpower fellow 20-year-old De Minaur but he could not sustain his level and the wily Australian, ranked 18th, hit back.Shapovalov gathered himself, though, and threatened to break in the eighth game of the decider before saving three break points at 4-4 from 0-40.De Minaur did break at 5-5 and held serve to take the tie into a doubles decider but Canada would not be denied and it was appropriate that Pospisil, the player of the week, sealed the victory with a commanding last service game
For reference, they were: Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Hamilton Academical, Heart of Midlothian, Inverness CT, Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Ross County and St Johnstone.Scotland’s average club revenue dropped by more than 10% from 2014/15 to 2015/16. UEFA does point out one reason being that “one club missing out on qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stage can set the trend.” Celtic were not in the competition in both seasons.It is also noted that, to quote UEFA directly. “The Scottish clubs’ average revenue decreased partly as a result of the relegation of Rangers, one of the two largest clubs in Scotland.” The financial picture of football leagues in Europe is laid bare in UEFA’s benchmarking report, and Scotland comes out favourably.While money remains hard to come by and margins remain tight, Scottish clubs have put themselves in financially robust positions.We knew this from the report in 2014/15 but it is a picture that has continued to improve in the 2015/16 edition. All figures relate to clubs playing in the Scottish Premiership in the 2015/16 season. The total club revenue in Scotland’s Premiership in 2015/16 was €133m (£115m), placing it 17th of the top 20 European nations. It places the nation ahead of Austria, Greece and Poland and marginally behind Kazakhstan (€134m) and Denmark (€142m).The steep climb takes a while to come. Next in line are Norway (€144m), Sweden (€167m), Ukraine (€175m), Switzerland (€211m) and then it finally shoots up considerably at Belgium (€316m). England’s revenue, for reference, was over four billion euros and almost double of second-placed Germany.So how does Scotland compare when you break it all down?The Scottish TV deal was the 16th best in Europe, taking in an aggregate €17m. It sits above Austria (€15m), Sweden (€16m) and Switzerland (€12m). It was behind Norway (€22m), Romania (€24m) and Poland (€26m).In terms of UEFA competition revenue, Scotland received the 20th highest amount from UEFA in 2015/16 at €10m.Fans remain critical to clubs. Scotland ranks 10th in terms of aggregate gate receipts in Europe, taking in €50m from Premiership crowds in 2015/16. Scotland ranks 14th in aggregate sponsorship and commercial revenues with €52m taken that season, a jump year-on-year of around €10m. The country ranked 16th in Europe in terms of transfer proceeds with €19m. Of course, the vast, vast majority of that was taken by Celtic.So what reliance do Scottish clubs have on the different types of revenue? The answer is clear: fans and the money companies are willing to spend to have their businesses promoted by clubs are the lifeblood of Scottish football.Gate receipts account for, on average, 37% of club revenues and 39% of revenue comes from sponsorship and commercial money. Scotland’s percentage of revenue from gate receipts was higher than any other country in Europe’s top 20 leagues.For a league which gives broadcast rights holders such leeway to change kick-off times and dictate schedules, only 13% of revenue comes from those sources.Some of these numbers are skewed by the money Celtic bring in from gates and sponsors, which drags numbers up. Some clubs have told STV that, actually, broadcast money accounts for a greater proportion of their revenues. As a comparison, England’s revenue mix is 49% domestic broadcasting, 16% gate receipts, 29% sponsorship/commercial. UEFA revenue accounts for less than 5%. This demonstrates an exceptional reliance on TV money.A significant feature from the previous year’s report was the high level of attendance enjoyed in Scotland compared to other nations.This was underlined again in 2015 with UEFA recording a total attendance of 2,201,340 for Scottish Premiership games, up from 1,974,292.That rise of 227,048 was a hike of 12%, the sixth biggest increase in all of Europe. While an impressive increase, it should be noted this was a case of “bouncing back” with Hearts being promoted when the previous year had shown a drop by a similar percentage.Wages fell in 2015/16 by 8%. Scottish top flight clubs paid, in total, €87m on wages, ranking them the 16th highest in terms of salary costs in Europe.It is here that UEFA’s report fires a warning on the anti-competitiveness of the Scottish Premiership. The average wage bill for the top four teams in 2015/16 was €16m but we can reasonably predict that there are massive gaps between the leading club Celtic, second placed Aberdeen and the other top two clubs.There is then a major drop-off. The average wage bill of clubs ranked fifth to eighth was €4m, and the average of the bottom four clubs was €2m. That leads to UEFA’s warning, saying: “The difference in spending power in Portugal, Ukraine, Austria, Greece and Scotland makes a league winner outside the top four extremely unlikely.”When it comes to the balance sheets, Scotland is in a very strong position compared to the rest of Europe.Scotland does not feature at all in the top 20 nations in terms of net debt. No figure is given as to how much net debt Scotland’s top flight clubs collectively carry but we can clearly state it is below €34m, which is the amount carried by the Czech Republic, which sits in 20th spot.The picture is even brighter when it comes to the ratio of assets to liabilities. Of the top 20 leagues in Europe, the Scottish Premiership’s clubs collectively have the best ratio of all.Scottish clubs also carry a strong sheet in terms of assets. The nation ranks 13th in Europe in terms of average assets, with an aggregate asset value of €234m.What are those assets? For the most part it lies in owning stadiums. Nine clubs own their stadium. Two have them partially included as club assets through leaseholds and only one has a stadium owned by another party.While those numbers look good, there are some concerns over profitability.Only three Scottish clubs had underlying operating profitability. Two of those were close to the margin, between zero and 10%. Only club had profitability of between 10 and 20%.That leaves nine clubs which did not, with four having a loss margin of over 20%. Two were between 10 and 20% and three between zero and 10%. That said, bottom-line profits were posted at five clubs, with three having a profit margin of more than 20%. But then still, three had a loss margin of more than 20%.In the last benchmarking report, Scottish clubs were shown to have dramatically cut their cloth to survive in the wake of the demise of Rangers.This trend has continued in 2015/16, with operating costs across the board costs down by 9%. The aggregate operating costs of Scottish Premiership clubs stood at €56m. In all, Scotland is ranked 14th in Europe for the average size of its top flight clubs’ operating costs. And those costs, on average, account for 42% of total revenue.