It would take someone earning the average UK salary of £27,600 more than three-and-a-half years to earn what Harry Kane earns in a week at Tottenham Hotspur after the England striker recently became the highest paid player in the club’s long history, putting pen to paper on a cool £100,000 per week deal that sees him contracted at White Hart Lane until 2022.
Such hiked-up wages are, of course, not exclusive to Spurs. Collectively, the Premier League clubs’ wage bill passed the £1 billion mark at the last count in 2015, with Chelsea’s wage bill the largest at a cool £191.4m. Burnley brought up the rear with £25.34m, while Leicester, who went on to become Premier League champions a year down the line, spent the second lowest amount on wages at just under £50m.
While such wages attract a lot of negative headlines, it is important not to overlook the money that footballers help generate for both the UK economy and the government.
No disrespect to either Burnley or Stoke but now that the textile mills and Potteries are a thing of the past what sort of tourist spend would either of those unfashionable towns generate if they didn’t have away fans flocking to Turfmoor or the Britannia Stadium spending money on parking, burgers and drinks every other Saturday? These days, if you buy a pie, a cup of tea and a programme you’re lucky to get any small change out of a tenner. In a regional study, the South Wales Chamber of Commerce noted that even towns within a 50 to 100-mile radius of Swansea City had benefited from the football club’s success on the global Premier League stage.
Record TV deals, sponsorship rights, merchandising and, of course, ticket sales have all combined to make the Premier League big business. With £3.4 billion added to the UK economy, the Premier League is in the world’s top three in terms of revenue generating leagues. Only the Major Baseball League and the National Football League in America can top it.
It seems nothing can stop the Premier League juggernaut from churning out the cash. Deloitte’s annual review into football finance in 2016 forecast that the Premier League’s worth will increase by over 20 percent in 2016/17, to over £4.3 billion. Indeed, by half-time in the second televised game of the current domestic season, more broadcast revenue had been generated than by all the Football League matches combined when the Premier League was first established 25 years ago.
Despite an increase in televised matches, the demand for matchday tickets has shown no signs of relenting – even at clubs like Arsenal where paying £100 for a ticket is just around the corner. Average Premier League attendances have consistently been near the 40,000 mark for the last few years, with stadium utilisation at around 95 percent.
As well as being the key players in the league’s revenue-earning power, Premier League footballers make a huge contribution to the government’s coffers through the income tax they pay. In July 2015, a report from Ernst & Young on the Economic Impact Assessment of Premier League clubs revealed that their footballers paid an incredible £2.4 billion in tax – enough to fund 334,000 hip operations on the NHS.
Words by James Dixon