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August 2021

Club finances

By Tony Attwood

Does the amount of money a club receives, or the amount that it pays to players actually make a difference to where the club is in the league and the success that it has?

Using the latest accounts figures, following a chart in the Guardian newspaper I’ve just extracted two figures from the list which seem very relevant to me: turnover and wage bill.


Turnover: 3rd highest in league, £245m (down from £258m in 2011)

Wage bill: 4th highest, £143m (up from £124m)

Difference: £121m


Turnover: 2nd in league, £261m (up from £229m in 2011)

Wage bill: 2nd, £173m (down from £190m in 2011)

Difference: £88m


Turnover: 8th in league, £81m (down from £82m in 2011)

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Wage bill: 10th, £63m (up from £58m)

Difference: 18m


Turnover: 5th in league, £169m (down from £184m in 2011)

Wage bill: 5th, £119m

Difference: £50m


Turnover: 4th in league, £231m (up from £153m in 2011)

Wage bill: 1st, £202m (up from £174m in 2011)

Difference: £29m


Turnover: 1st in league, £320m (down from £331m in 2011)

Wage bill: 3rd, £162m (up from £153m in 2011)

Difference: £158m


Turnover: 6th in league, £144m (down from £163m in 2011)

Wage bill: 6th, £90m (down from £91m in 2011)

Difference: £54m

I have selected these two measurements and added in the Difference figure because it seems to me that the difference between Turnover and Wages shows how much space one has to play with next season as FFP comes in.  If you have a lot of space there you have every chance of buying in new players without having to think first about who you sell.

So here are the difference figures together

ARSENAL    Difference: £121m

CHELSEA    Difference: £88m

EVERTON   Difference: £18m

LIVERPOOL  Difference: £50m

MANCHESTER CITY  Difference: £29m

MANCHESTER UNITED  Difference: £158m

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR  Difference: £54m

Manchester United are clearly in the strongest position – they have the biggest amount of space between their turnover and the amount they spend on players, and so could buy in more players and pay higher salaries.  Their only problem each year is how much the Glazers want to take out of the club each year.

Second are Arsenal.  Which means again there is a lot of room in the budget for more players.

Then it is Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City, Everton.

These figures of course don’t account for spending power – Man City can outspend everyone, but they give a bit of a snap shot into how much they are likely to spend on new players without selling anyone at all.  It also shows that Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City in particular have to consider FFP as they work this summer to improve their squads, while Arsenal and Man U don’t.    Everton seem to be living on the edge – they are in fact overachieving.

What these figures then allow us to take into account is how the income from each of these clubs will change – and change is what is needed if the clubs are to grow without worrying about FFP.

ARSENAL: the end of the old stadium funding deals should mean that there will be a huge growth in income from sponsors, and from overseas interest.  We know that China, the rest of SE Asia and America are the three areas being focussed on.

CHELSEA: FFP is a consideration given the money being pumped in by the owner.  These figures reflect the winning of the Champions League – which will of course drop out of the next set of figures.   The new stadium project has been turned down twice – and they really need this.  The owner could pay for it all, and it would not affect FFP, but would then generate huge extra incomes which could be Chelsea’s salvation.

EVERTON:  Everton are working at the limit, without a budget for new players, and with only the slightest of hopes for 4th place.  Europa would help if they got fifth, but there is no chance of a new stadium.

LIVERPOOL: They seem to be settling down to another season without European football, and recent history suggests that they have shot themselves in the feet with their transfer dealings.  They seem to have given up on a new stadium and are talking of rebuilding instead.  The problem is, that to get into the Champs League they need not only to do much better themselves, but also have the clubs above them failing to improve – or at least three of those clubs slipping back.

MANCHESTER CITY:  The big spending on players has to be stopped because of FFP.  The stadium income is modest and they are unlikely to build another one soon.  So just how do they improve the squad?  I have no idea.

MANCHESTER UNITED  Because of their long term history of brilliant world wide marketing they have no worries.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR.  Their problem is that they need the stadium, but unless the owners are going to fund it, they will have the same restrictions Arsenal have had over recent years – having to get the money from sponsorship in early to pay for the stadium.  What’s more they won’t have Arsenal’s income that we got from Highbury.

So, based on this analysis I’d say the way forwards is easier for Arsenal and Man U than for the rest.   As the full analysis in the Guardian shows, the prime accountancy figures don’t have a direct relationship with success on the pitch – but they give a rough and ready guide.  What I’m trying to evolve here is a guide to what happens next.






17 comments to Club finances

  • ClockEndRider

    As a rough and ready reckoner, this looks to be fairly good. Of course the great unknown is just how tightly the FFP at European and Premiership levels are going to be enforced. Indeed, I haven’t even seen the details of the PL FFP as they don’t seem to appear on the PL website as far as I can see. Simply trusting what Sky Sports reports seems to be a little simplistic not to say potentially wholly incorrect.
    One additional factor to weigh up is the float freed up through expiration of expensive contracts. I would imagine from tis season onwards there will be quite a few players across many clubs approaching or at the end of deals which will not be able to be matched elsewhere. Think Arshavin, Squillaci, Bendtner, Chamakh etc. These players will start to drop off the wage bill, presumably thriough running down the end of their contracts rather than being sold for the reason set ut above. As this happens it will free up funds to invest in other players and/or rebalance the current pay structure, at Arsenal anyway. It will also have the effect of reducing the salary expectations of players generally through the broadening of supply. Interesting times.

  • “Manchester United are clearly in the strongest position – they have the biggest amount of space between their turnover and the amount they spend on players, and so could buy in more players and pay higher salaries. Their only problem each year is how much the Glazers want to take out of the club each year.

    Second are Arsenal. Which means again there is a lot of room in the budget for more players.”

    You forgot to add this:

    “Arsenal only problem each year is how much Kroenke and Gazidis want to take out of the club each year instead of buying top class players.”

  • Tasos


    Kroenke and Gazidis want to take money out of the club?

    Any substance to this claim, any proof?

  • Tasos


    Kroenke and Gazidis want to take money out of the club?

    Any substance to this claim, any proof?

  • ClockEndRider

    Strangely, the published audited accounts don’t show this. Either you are incorrect or there is fraud happening. Big charge to lay. Best you have the facts to back it up. Or else people will think you are a little bit silly.

  • Mike T

    As I have said on numerous occasions the evidence is there that Chelsea have been very smart in FFP terms.
    Ok you mention about their accounts reflected winning the CL just as their wages in the same period reflected significant bonuses paid to the players for winning it yet the wage bill dropped by just under 10% yet Arsenals wage bill grew by 15%
    In the current financial years 2013 & 2014 Chelsea’s wage bill will drop again players like Drogba & Kalou, in 2013 and Moulda,Benyoun, Lampard, & Torres, all on way over £100k will have departed a week yes their replacements will be well paid well but overall the wage bill will not show an increase over the next few years whereas all the indications are that Arsenals wage bill will continue to increase.

  • ClockEndRider

    Mike T,
    “…but overall the wage bill (Chelsea’s) will not show an increase over the next few years whereas all the indications are that Arsenals wage bill will continue to increase”.

    With the new shirt and sponsorship deals, so will our revenue. Add in our players out of contract leaving and it all begins to look good. Further we are already making significant accounting and actual profits. Chelsea are not. I think the point is that we will have the capacity to improve our squad through sheer weight of money, whereas Chelsea will be more constrained unless they either build a new stadium or significantly increase commercial deals.

  • nicky

    How can Kroenke take money out of Arsenal other than by selling his shares. And there is a danger there in that he could let in Usmanov.
    Gazidis is a different matter. His salary could simply be increased.
    Reports like this, unless backed up by firm evidence, only spawn suspicion among supporters of our Club.

  • Mike T

    @Clock EndRider

    Its worth reading Arsenals 6 month accounts to November 2012 in detail.
    First group profit was down from £49.5 million in the same period in 2011 to £17.8 in 2012. Still really good you will say but £1.9 million of this was in respect of property sales that will not be repeated but the main point is that transer fees received were £ 42.5 million. Yes there are better commercial deals in place at Arsenal but when Chelseas main sponsor and shirt deals come up for renewal they will show significant increases.
    As for other Chelsea commercial deals at Chelsea things are already happening and like everyone else increased TV money will be reflected in 2014 accounts
    AS for being more constarined I am not sure you are right as the flawed FFP rules will allow RA to continue with finacial input.

  • ClockEndRider

    Sorry, I stil don’t see how the interim figures make the point you are making. With regard to Chelsea’s commercial deals, I am not close enough to them to know. Perhaps you can shed some light given your knowledge.

  • ClockEndRider

    Also, Chelsea’s shirt and sponsorship deals were only renegotiated a yea or so ago weren’t they? Maybe I am wrong and they are up for negotiation soon too. Could you shed some light?

  • Mike T

    Clock End Rider
    The point about Arsenals 6 month figures are that they show a clear decline.
    Whilst new commercial deals that will kick in Arsenals trading surplus was to a large degree reliant on transfer fees received and if you take RVPs fee (£22.5 million) out of the equation then the accounts would have shown a loss.At some point Arsenal will not , either through refusal or there not being a demand,sell on players.
    As for Chelsea Samsung took up a two year option extending the current deal to May 2015 a deal worth £18 million a season. So in a year or two Chelsea will be aimimg for a deal worth a lot more than that sum . Arsenals new deal is in two parts . The first is as shirt sponsorship which lasts to 2019 and the stadium deal till 2028. The deal could could be worth up to £30 million a season but the point is toward the middle or end of that deal the sums being achieved by other clubs will be far greater than Arseal are geting but as these deals come to an end Arsenal will be looking to get more. Its just the way the value of such deals has developed.
    As I said in my earlier post Arsenals wage bill is increasing. The notes that accompany the latest accounts state the contracts already agreed for the” British Core “will come at a significant cost.
    The acid test will be at sesons end. Will there be CL football? Will there be an influx of new and expensive players?
    As they say watch this space.

  • Mike T

    @Clock End Rider

    As an aside I meant to say that as far as I can establish Arsela have 3 what is in effect first team squad players at he end of their contracts
    Arshavin ( £80k a week)
    Squillaci (£60k a week)

    and it although I find it odd its sggested the 3rd is

    Faianski on £40k a week

    Players on loan like Bendner (£52k)Denilson (£50k)Santos (£50k)Frimpong (£20k) & Chamakh (£50k) still have at least a year left on their contracts meaning some will return in the summer others maybe not.

    The real savings when a player leaves at the end of thier contracts. As I said Chelsea have been quite smart they have 6 senior squad leaving at the end of their contracts with wage costs of over £400k a week and others like Torres who arent at the end of thier contracts will also leave.Many of their replacements are already Chelsea players like Debryne,Lukaka and Courtois and although others will be brought in the wage bill will continue to decline

  • ClockEndRider

    That’s great Mike, many thanks.
    A the same time, Chelsea only made any profit at all last year due to the CL victory. Given that they went out at the first stage this year, there will be a significant reduction in income reported. Re the replacement of players, past experience would suggest that though they have second string players available, they actually buy replacements. They have already spent significant money on Hazard etc when we have all been told ad nauseam for the last three years that the next Messi is McEachran who appears to have been busy gathering dust on the shelves of a number of clubs to whom he has gone on loan.. I don’t see why their past approach should change. And if they do, who says that Debruyne etc are as food as those they would be replacing? In which case, Chelsea, welcome to our world…….

  • Mike T


    That’s OK.
    I thinks its safe to say that our academy hasn’t produced players to a standard as yet and in part that was down to Frank Arnesen who promised much and delivered little. We do however have a number of players coming through who are the real deal.Alas Josh went straight to PL teams when he wasn’t at that standard meaning his development stalled.He does however seem to be improving at long last
    We have five or six young players out on loan who rumour has it will be in the squad either next season or the one after. The three that are most likely and in truth already at the required standard are De Bryne he is already a Belguim International and is very good as is Lukaka at WBA and Courtois a goalkeeper on loan at Athletico Madrid who will eventually replace Cech. Others like Lucas Piazon and four defenders called Tomas Kalas, Kenneth Omeruo & Patrick van Aanholt and Wallace are all playing regular first team football in a variety of decent national leagues and look to have a decent chance
    As for players from our academy look out for Ake 18 he has already played a couple of first team games, Chalobah who is also 18 on loan at Watford and is getting rave reviews there are quite a few others but these two stand out. Will they make it ? Possibly , possibly not but I think its pretty safe to assume you will be seeing a steady stream of home grown players being there or thereabouts in the years to come quite simply we rebuilt the club at all levels and have copied another clubs model in terms of developing youn talent and guess who that team is !

  • Shard


    Arsenal’s wage bill of 143.4m is aggregate of the wages of all its employees. Not just the playing staff. I’m not sure how other clubs’ wage bills are accounted, but I think they split the wages for playing staff (and coaches) and non-playing staff.

    Do FFP conditions consider the entire wage bill or only wages played to players and coaches? How does that effect the room for maneuver for all clubs, if at all?

  • Shard

    Chelsea have actually massively invested in their academy over the past 8 years or so. Even Arsenal coaches have acknowledged this and said how much talent there is in the Chelsea youth team.

    Chelsea’s ‘problem’ however, in terms of youth development will be the short termism that they have displayed so far. To bring through kids successfully requires patience, and an acceptance of mistakes. It is easier, especially when you have the money, to bring in someone to do the job rather than trust in kids. As long as Chelsea don’t put a manager in place for the long term, that’ll never happen. AVB was that man for Chelsea, and I think they messed up in firing him (Chelsea fans might disagree, after all they won the CL)

    However, FFP rules might ‘force’ Chelsea to promote some youth. This can only be a good thing.