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October 2016
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Football is changing faster than we might ever expect – and the results are going to be weird

By Tony Attwood

In 2014, the Deloitte Football Money League had eight Premier League clubs in the top 30 richest clubs in the universe.  Well, ok, in the world.

But when the new TV deal comes along, things will change again.  The total amount being paid to Premier League clubs for both UK rights and international rights is going to be over £2.8bn a year for each year from 2016-17 onwards.

That means that the club that ends up bottom of the Premier League will get around £99m a year, and the champions about £156m a year.

So once the new deal starts next season the reality of who are the richest teams in the world will change.  All 20 teams in the Premier League will almost certainly be in the top 30 richest clubs in the world.

What this means is that smaller clubs in the PL such as could be in Bournemouth, Leicester and Norwich will be in the world’s top 30 richest football clubs, while the likes of Atletico Madrid, Napoli, Inter Milan, Galatasaray, Marseille, Roma, Benfica and Hamburg will be out.

We already have had it confirmed that Burnley is a bigger economic force in European football than Ajax.  And whoever comes up to the Premier League, even just for one year, will pocket £90m from broadcasting, compared to, for example Bayern Munich who got £90.1m from broadcasting last year.

They will put Paris Saint‑Germain in the shade since they only got £69.7m last year, and even with some growth in media interest in France, the bottom team in the PL will outdo PSG.

So what will this mean?

Sadly for those of us who go to football matches, not too much.  Most of the money will be soaked up in players’ salaries, and ever increasing transfer fees, and until a maximum spend on wages and transfers per club is introduced, that will continue to be the case.  A tiny amount will trickle down to the lower levels of football, and the clubs that are relegated can expect a bigger parachute payment when they go down.  And the solidarity payment to lower leagues will increase.

Community level football might get a little more, but naturally the League is wary of this use of their money since community football is the responsibility of the FA.  The FA has screwed up big time, spending fortunes on Wembley and other ill-fated schemes, like bidding for the World Cup in a bid that everyone knew was bent while failing to spend money given by the government for community schemes on… community schemes.  Now, utterly bankrupt, they have vastly increased the cost of training courses for coaches (which is why we have so few in this country) and made a third of their staff redundant.

But community football is their responsibility, and the League feels that once they start taking that on big time, the FA will just wash its hands of community football and waste even more on insane projects like Wembley and throwing money and bribes (like handbags) at Fifa and its people.

Of course the media loved it when some Man C fans protested against the cost of tickets at Arsenal, not because of the validity of the campaign (the high costs of admission mostly come because of the insanity of player wages) but because it distracted from the biggest scandal of all – changing times and dates to suit TV.

It also means that the Championship will grow in power.  Already reported by some to be the third most powerful league in the world in terms of money, more is going to be poured in as the very very rich see buying a Championship or even League One club as a route to the Premier League, even if it is for just one season.

If you note that Brighton had a turnover of around £24m last year, and would have a turnover of around £100m at least from TV rights alone in the Premier League you can see the impact the PL’s finances will have on the lower leagues.

The problem is however that the Championship clubs, recognising this, have combined debts of over £1bn – much of that debt taken up with gambling on promotion.

And there are other downsides.  The media loved it when some Man C fans protested against the cost of tickets at Arsenal, not because of the validity of the campaign (Man C only took half their tickets, but the rest were instantly snapped up by Arsenal fans) but because it distracted from the biggest scandal of all – changing times and dates to suit TV.

With TV providing the money, TV calls the tune, not just in the PL (which will have football on Friday night, Saturday lunchtime, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, Sunday lunchtime, Sunday afternoon, and Monday evening – not to mention the odd midweek game.  No not just with that but with FA Cup matches moved every time imaginable.  The Exeter Liverpool FA Cup match is on a Friday night.  I wonder what the BBC would think of that if no Liverpool fans turned up?  (It means taking Friday afternoon off work, driving there – the last train from Exeter to Liverpool leaves before kick off, and possibly taking off saturday as well).

Meanwhile Manchester United are being televised live for 48th FA Cup tie in succession – for that most important Man U v Sheffield U game at Old Trafford.

Of course I am lucky – I have an Arsenal season ticket, and so I will go to the home games more or less when they are on, but I personally quite like Saturday afternoon games.  Not that we have many such games, but still, last saturday’s League game and this coming weekend’s FA Cup have both been ignored by TV.

Few clubs have really stood up to this dismantling of the schedules for the benefit of TV – although Leeds have had a go, claiming that the League was bringing the game into disrepute by moving matches around and thus in breach of its own rules.  Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Derby  have been shown around 10 times each on TV this season.

It really all is a mess, and of course it will get to be more of a mess in the future.  But there is a solution – offer the rights to all TV games and allow them to be played on Saturday afternoon – the sort of arrangement they have in North America with their various sports.

Anyway, for the record, here are the current top ten clubs by turnover on the last set of Deloitte figures.

  • 1. Real Madrid – £459.5m
  • 2. Manchester United – £433.2m
  • 3. Bayern Munich – £407.7m
  • 4. Barcelona – £405.2m
  • 5. Paris Saint-Germain – £396.5m
  • 6. Manchester City – £346.5m
  • 7. Chelsea – £324.4m
  • 8. Arsenal – £300.5m
  • 9. Liverpool – £255.8m
  • 10. Juventus – £233.6m


Insult of the day (our regular riposte to the aaa) “Doubt not her care should be to comb your noddle with a three-legg’d stool, and paint your face and use you like a fool.” (Taming of the Shrew)
(“Your noddle” actually is your head, but if you want it to mean anything else that is up to you.)

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From the anniversary files

  • 6 January 1993: Scarborough Town 0 Arsenal 1.  Cup Match 6 of Arsenal’s Cup Double season, in the fourth round of the League Cup.  Scarborough were formed seven years before Arsenal, but went out of business on 20 June 2007 with debts of £2.5m.
  • 6 January 2001: Carlisle 0 Arsenal 1; FA Cup round 3 as Arsenal start on the journey to the final.  Wiltord scored the goal on the ground in which Arsenal had been notoriously beaten 2-1 in December 1974, when the police entered the pitch to stop players fighting.

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