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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
First fall in Premiership wages
Liverpool players celebrate winning the FA Cup
Top English football wages continue to outstrip those of European rivals
Top English football club wages have dropped for the first time in the Premier League's history, a report from Deloitte has found.

Its annual review of football finances showed player pay-packets in the top league fell in the 2004/05 season.

But with a TV rights auction for games from 2007 generating 1.7bn for the Premier League, wages could soar again.

The report says the Premiership is the top-earning league in the world, with its 20 clubs generating 1.3bn.

Contrast

Manchester United was again top of English revenue generation, with 159m.

The club was followed by Chelsea on 149m, Liverpool on 122m - reaping the benefits of their run to Champions League victory - and Arsenal on 115m.

The need to 'save clubs from themselves' with a salary cap now seems far less important than it did five years ago
Dan Jones, Deloitte

In the 2003/04 season overall wages would have dropped, but they were skewed by the heavy spending of Roman Abramovich-backed Chelsea.

"Over the past decade, we have seen Premiership wages rise by an average of 20% each year," said Dan Jones, partner in sports business at Deloitte.

"The 3% reduction in the total wage costs for Premiership clubs, based on the latest available figures for the 2004/05 season, provides a stark contrast."

He said the latest analysis further supported the improving balance between revenue and costs, not just in England, but also across Europe.

"The need to 'save clubs from themselves' with a salary cap now seems far less important than it did five years ago," he added.

Premiership prowess

Even though wage bills were lowered for the first time since the inaugural Premier season in 1992/93, players in England still outstripped their European counterparts.

The total wage bill in Italy, the second biggest in Europe, was 29% below the English level at 830m euros (561m) while clubs in the much-admired Spanish La Liga shelled out 658m euros (444m) to their stars.

In addition to the English Premiership, clubs in Italy (down 2%) and France (down 3%) also managed to cut total wage costs in 2004/05.

Top league revenues 04/05
England 1.3bn
Italy 0.9bn
Germany 0.8bn
Spain 0.7bn
France 0.5bn

However, as well as high wages, the report also highlights the prowess of the Premiership compared with its global rivals.

During the 2004/05 season, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A clubs had the biggest leaps in financial fortunes, with revenues up 17% and 16% respectively, compared with 1% growth in the Premiership.

But English Premiership clubs remain well ahead, being more successful in attracting a greater spread of revenue across different sources and different clubs, and greater profitability than European rivals.

'Future success'

The "big five" European leagues generated 54% of the total 7.8bn European football market.

English clubs are the most profitable in Europe with a record 14 reporting pre-tax profits in 2004/05, followed by Germany.

Revenue generated by clubs in the Championship - the second tier league in England - of 306m reaffirms it as Europe's sixth biggest league, after the big five.

Deloitte expects English clubs to continue to lead the world financially, and predicts the TV windfall will be spend largely on new players.

"There will also be further investment across the clubs' businesses to secure this broad-based future success," it says.





SEE ALSO:
Setanta joins Premiership action
05 May 06 |  Business
Football rights hat-trick for Sky
28 Apr 06 |  Business
Liverpool in talks with investors
29 Mar 06 |  Business
Man Utd dethroned as richest club
16 Feb 06 |  Business
France to OK football flotations
31 Jan 06 |  Business


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