Premier League has half world's richest clubs
Have vast sums of money ruined English football? As the January transfer window comes to an end, a study shows that even England’s minnows have become financial heavyweights.
On Monday evening one of the Premier League’s longest running transfer sagas came to an end. Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez made his long-awaited move from Arsenal to Manchester United.
At 6pm United announced the signing via a video which sums up what the Premier League has become. We see Sanchez playing a piano, then walking through the tunnel at Old Trafford. When he reaches the pitch, the piano becomes an orchestra playing Glory Glory Man United as Sanchez gazes up at the stands in triumph. Pure Hollywood.
Sanchez will earn £23m a year at a club which has spent over £1bn on transfer fees in the Premier League era.
It may be obscene, but it is unsurprising. United are the world's most valuable club. One estimate puts their global fanbase at 659 million people.
But a study by Deloitte has found that the Premier League makes so much more money from sales of television rights, tickets and commercial income that 14 of its clubs are in the highest-earning 30 in the world.
West Ham United, who have never won a league title, have the 17th highest revenue in the world. Even more remarkably Bournemouth, the League’s smallest club historically, who play in front of average crowds of just 11,000, make the list at 28th. Their income has grown from £1m to £140m in 20 years.
So why is the Premier League the most watched sports league in the world? Writing for ESPN, Michael Cox puts it down to balance. The league mixes “outright quality and competitiveness”. It may not have the technical quality of Spain, nor the tactical astuteness of Italy, but English football consistently produces the most thrilling matches.
There is always flux: no team has retained the title since 2009. Historic stadiums are sold out, with fans close to the pitch, enabling the atmosphere to come coursing through the TV screen. It radiates history and grandeur.
And yet many traditionalists still moan about the vast sums of money in the league. Are they right?
The money in the Premier League has gone too far, say some. The vast TV deals mean that ticket sales no longer make up the majority of clubs’ revenue, distancing them from their core support. And it has hindered teams on the pitch, as shown by English clubs’ poor form in European competitions in recent years. Why select a youngster or try a new tactic if you can throw £80m at a new signing?
The statistics are clear, reply others. A combination of money and reputation has made the Premier League a global sensation. Money has improved professionalism and fitness, transforming the way the game is played. Now stadiums from Swansea to Stoke-on-Trent can welcome the best players in the world. The winners far outweigh the losers.
- Is there too much money in football?
- Why is the Premier League the most popular league in the world?
- Until 1961, English football had a maximum wage for players. As a class, discuss whether you think this should be brought back.
- Draw a graph illustrating the increasing amounts of money in English football.
Some People Say...
“The romance of English football is fantastic, but it has lost its identity.”Johan Cryuff
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- A study by accountants Deloitte has found that 14 of the 30 richest clubs in the world play in the English Premier League. The League is the most popular in the world, although fans and pundits are divided over whether it produces the best overall quality of football. We know that the vast sums of money coincided with the advent of the Premier League, which started in 1993 when teams in the top flight broke away from the Football League.
- What do we not know?
- Whether the Premier League can sustain its success. A report in July by financial analysts Vysyble suggested that Premier League clubs are hurtling towards bankruptcy due to chronic overspending. Premier League clubs lost around £2 billion in eight years from 2008 until 2016. Is this sustainable?
- Manchester United
- For a long time it was expected that Sanchez would join Manchester City, but the league leaders pulled out because of Sanchez’s wage demands.
- Television rights
- The latest Premier League TV deal is worth £5.1bn for three seasons. Unlike in Spain, where individual clubs negotiate with TV companies, the Premier League negotiates on behalf of clubs, leading to a much more equal spread of money among the clubs.
- From £1m to £140m in 20 years
- As recently as 2010, Bournemouth were playing in the fourth tier of English football.
- This was Manchester United.
- Fans close to the pitch
- In many other European countries, clubs use multi-purpose stadiums with running tracks, resulting in a huge gap between fans and the pitch. Players and fans frequently comment that this dulls the atmosphere.
- Poor form in European competitions
- No English club has reached the Champions League final since Chelsea won the competition in 2012, although their fortunes look set to improve this season. All five English teams are still in the competition.