By Tony Attwood
So here is the argument: Matchday money has stopped. TV money has stopped. But salaries continue. And that is not good news for the clubs.
Just how bad the bad news is can be seen by this table. We’ve run it before, but now here are two extra columns as the situation has got darker and darker.
It is a table that I have not seen produced in other places – and this new version was brought about because of the news from Barcelona that they were declaring a period of financial difficulty. So here’s the argument.
Clubs have lots of revenue – that is good. But as column 3 shows, a lot of that money comes from matchdays, including TV revenue. So that is why I think this is a bigger crisis than the journalists have been suggesting when they keep going on and on about other players that Arsenal are going to sign.
However even with the media there is some movement. The Guardian for example, published “Premier League players likely to accept wage deferrals to ease pressure on clubs” yesterday evening. I’ll come back to that in a later article.
|Club||Total revenue||Matchday plus TV % of total income
|West Ham United||£191m||81%||£36m||£107m||£71m|
I have now added Leicester to the list – the only reason they were missing before was that they had not declared their figures for the last financial year, and so could not be compared with other clubs.
Looking at the table it is clear that if matches don’t resume quickly all the clubs above are going into loss. They have lost their matchday revenue, and what is left is not enough to pay the salary bill.
And maybe in doing this table we can see why Leicester were a little late in filing their figures, because they have huge problems. In fact the worst of all. Here is the league table for shortfalls with brief comments…
|1||Leicester City||£137m||Owners have money but will they spend it?|
|2||Arsenal||£130m||Kroenke likes profit not losses|
|3||Everton||£104m||New stadium costs not even started.|
|4||West Ham||£71m||Poor results and supporter anger|
|5||Chelsea||£61m||No new stadium; will Abramovich pay?|
|6||Liverpool||£60m||Stadium costs on going|
|7||Manchester City||£29m||No problem at all; owners will pay|
|8||Tottenham Hots||£15m||Stadium debt repayment has only just started|
|9||Manchester United||£14m||Worldwide support should see them ok|
|10||Wolverhampton||£6m||Borrowing is high|
So which clubs are in danger?
With Leicester they can be bailed out, although FFP might catch them out. The money is there, but if the owners think this is a step too far, the grand results of recent years might well slip away.
Arsenal have the problem of an owner who wants to make a profit and will do anything to get that, and these are not the financials he expected.
Everton have real financial problems with these figures. The new stadium has been lurking around for quite a while, and that has to be financed somehow, but with this level of shortfall and the current crisis, that money could be hard to find.
West Ham just seem in turmoil. They have a stadium they don’t even have to pay for and yet they still run up this level of shortfall. It seems hard to imagine what they do next. New managers are getting harder to find – or at least new managers who will subject themselves to this turmoil.
Abramovich seems not to want to engage with the new stadium now the government have prohibited him from working in England. He’ll bail the club out but beyond that…?
Liverpool is still planning to spend more money on its ground and this season before it stopped seemed to justify that. The owner might well just take the hit and then go on building.
Manchester City clearly have no problem because wrongly or rightly they will just spend and not worry about the rules. Except… if they are kicked out of the Champions League, it is the ego of the owners that is the issue, not the finances. Remembering that the owners run a country without the civil rights we take as normal. The rest of the world will tell them what they think of them which will be a new experience, so they could try and sell the club. But then, who on earth could afford to buy the club and keep it near the top?
Arsenal are in trouble. The huge transfer spending won’t be repeated but the wages bill is shooting up. Plus the media is deliberately talking up the notion of a summer of spending and if it doesn’t happen what new protests will the supporters dream up this time?
Manchester United make a fortune from merchandising and that will continue and will see them through, although the owners can’t be very happy about making a loss and thus lower or even non-existent dividends. But on the other hand the owners are milking the club, and maybe they could do that just a little less to bring it into balance once again.
Wolverhampton look to have a tiny issue but, they were spotted borrowing against next year’s income, which is always a worrying sign. Maybe the cash reserves are already drying up.
I suspect the top four clubs in the list above will be curtailing their player purchasing for some time to come. Which doesn’t bode well for the blogs and newspapers that live on the issue of next week’s transfer. Nor for the rest of the market – it could see prices plummet.
These are troubling times.
- Arsenal’s finances: another loss but going the right way
- WSL 2022-23 Arsenal v Everton – Match Preview
- Which Arsenal transfer tale is being repeated the most often?
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?