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The Truth About Earnings from Owning a Premier League Football Club

Over the last two years, the ownership of Premier League football clubs has become a hot topic in the sporting world. Firstly, there was the controversial takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund. Then, there was Todd Boehly’s purchase of Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, which was forced through due to global events. 

In more recent weeks, the topic of conversation has been Manchester United. The Red Devils’ current owners, the Glazer Family, have been looking to sell the club for a whopping $6bn, a price tag that many experts consider to be twice as much as the club is actually worth. Even though the Old Trafford club is a household name the world over, they have been enduring a slump over the last decade, since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired back in the summer of 2013. 

Throughout the last ten years, United have been surpassed by their arch-rivals Manchester City. Bovada, which provides basketball, soccer and football betting lines, amongst many other sports, currently make the Blues the overwhelming favourites for both the Premier League and the Champions League this season, with success in each competition being priced at -1400 and -155, respectively. The Red Devils, meanwhile, are way down in fourth in the English topflight, and they did not even qualify for the Champions League, instead dropping into the Europa League, where they were eliminated by Sevilla in the quarterfinals. 

Owning a Premier League football club is considered the dream of many football fans. However, with incredibly excessive costs for player transfers, wages, and infrastructure maintenance, running a football club is no easy feat. Many people wonder if owning a Premier League football club is actually profitable or if it’s just a plaything for the global elite. 

In this article, we’ll break down the various ways owners can earn a profit and whether it’s a sustainable income source for their already overflowing portfolios. 

Revenue Streams for Premier League Football Clubs

Elite football clubs receive their funding from a variety of sources. The majority of elite teams primarily get their income from item sales, matchday money, and broadcasting rights. In addition, sponsors pay a considerable sum to have their logos displayed on the club’s uniforms. 

A typical Premier League team generated about £265 million in total revenue during the 2019–2020 season, according to Deloitte’s Money League Report. Typically, 38% of this income comes from broadcasting rights, 30% from business deals, 26% from matchday income, and the remaining money comes from player transfers.

The Importance of Broadcasting Rights

The reason the Premier League has soared past its counterparts from Spain, Germany, Italy, and France in recent years is courtesy of TV rights. English clubs earn considerably more than the rest of Europe, and the last domestic broadcasting rights contract signed back in 2021 was worth a staggering £5.1bn for just three years. The money from the rights deal is staggered evenly based on where a team finishes in the league in a particular season, whereas in Spain for example, heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona secure most of the TV money generated. 

Matchday Revenue

Matchday revenue is the money made from having games at home. This includes income from selling tickets, selling food and beverages, and hosting events on matchdays. Matchday revenue is typically a substantial source of income for smaller Premier League clubs and can represent up to 21% of certain smaller clubs’ total income.

The further you go down the English footballing pyramid, the more matchday revenue is important to any club. For clubs in League One and League Two, for example, matchday revenue will be the primary source of income for many teams. 

Commercial Deals and Sponsorships

Commercial deals and sponsorships are also significant sources of revenue. These can include partnerships with local businesses, international brands, kit manufacturers, and even stadium naming rights. Most Premier League clubs earn a substantial amount from shirt sponsorship deals, which can range from millions to tens of millions of pounds per season, depending on a particular outfit’s reputation across the globe. 

The biggest shirt sponsorship deal in the Premier League is Manchester City’s deal with Etihad, which is worth £67.5m per year. Meanwhile, their city rivals Manchester United have the biggest kit manufacturing deal in the country, earning a cool £75m per season from Adidas. That figure is dwarfed when it comes to world football, however, and Real Madrid currently have the biggest strip deal, with Los Blancos earning some £110m per season. 

The Challenges of Owning a Premier League Football Club

Despite the various revenue streams, owning a Premier League football club is a financial burden for most owners. The wages paid to players have rapidly increased over the last three decades, and player transfers can cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Since there is no salary cap in the Premier League, clubs can pay exorbitant amounts to retain their top performers, and marquee names can demand new contracts with significant pay rises, providing they are playing at a high level.