It’s no secret that the English Premier League is big money. Each week, millions of pounds change hands between clubs and players, fans and ticket offices, and sponsors and clubs. But how deep do the pockets go?
In this article, we look at just how much money comes into the game, where it comes from and who gets what.
Broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes, the EPL is watched by an estimated 4.7 billion fans, making it the most-watched sports league in the world.
The Premier League are currently in the process of selling the next 3 year’s worth of TV rights off. Domestically the sale of these rights have been reported at £4.464 billion, a price 11% lower than the previous deal’s £5.14 billion, but this does not account for the 2 additional packages that are still available.
If these two additional packages are sold off at the same rate as the others (£9.3 million per match) the deal will be worth £5.58bn, considerably more than the £5.14 billion of the previous deal. However, these packages are not seen to be as desirable. The EPL reports that there are multiple bidders interested, but their exact value remains to be seen.
To put this into perspective, the current deal is worth £1.7 billion per year, equal to those paid for the NBA and leaves the EPL only behind only the NFL, whose TV rights pull in a mind-boggling £3.24 billion each year globally.
However, when you consider that these are the domestic deals and the UK is approximately 1/5th the population of the USA, this is an incredible sum. When the foreign rights are factored in, it is no wonder the EPL is considered by some to be the most valuable league in the world.
TV Rights for the Big 5 Leagues
In terms of clubs, the world’s biggest are in Europe’s Big 5 Leagues – Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga, along with the EPL.
The EPL leads the way with the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 bringing in just over £1 billion each. Italy’s Serie A brings in £862 million and Spain’s La Liga £739 million.
This may be a surprise that La Liga is the poor cousin, especially with the recent success of Spanish sides in the Champion’s League and Europa League. However, this amazingly comes after massive growth in the overall value of their rights. A royal decree of 2015 forced collective bargaining onto La Liga. Before this, the clubs sold their rights individually. While the big clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona could command over £100 million, the smaller teams struggled to make even 1/6th of that.
Since Spain moved to a collective bargaining model, the value of the rights have increased by 80%. This has seen the earnings of the big clubs rise, but the lower placed teams now get a much bigger slice of the pie and their earnings have actually increased faster.
How is the money distributed?
In the EPL each side gets paid an initial £79.4 million, while the rest is divided depending on the final league position and the number of televised matches they host.
The league position adds £1.9 million to their payout for each position above last they finish. So the bottom club receives a £1.9 million payout and the champions pocket an additional £38 million.
For the TV money each team gets a minimum of £12.3 million for hosting up to 10 games, with clubs earning an extra £1.1 million for every additional match televised on top of that.
In the 2018/19 season, although only finishing 2nd in the league, Liverpool were the highest paid club due to the number of matches they had televised. They had 29 matches televised netting them £33.5 million, which added to their 2nd place prize money of £36.1million and the basic £79.4 million gave them a grand total of £149 million.
Huddersfield, the bottom club, only had 8 matches televised, but still received £12.3 million even though they did not reach the 10 game threshold. £1.9 million prize money and £79.4 million for their basic share gives them a total of £93.6million.
The rich get richer?
The difference between Liverpool and Huddersfield’s TV money is £56.6 million. Which is considerable. When you look at the big 6 sides of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotpsur (Spurs) the lowest paid of these was 5th placed Arsenal at £138.8 million.
The next best was Everton who pocketed £125.3 million for finishing 8th, which is over £13 million less (Arsenal were only just over £10 million less than the top earners Liverpool) and you can see why some people are concerned about the rich getting richer.
How equitable is the EPL TV money compared to the other Big 5 Soccer Leagues?
This difference of £56.6 million between top and bottom has been highlighted in some publications as way more inequitable than other leagues. For example, The gap in Germany between Bayern Munich (the winners) and Fortuna Dusseldorf (the bottom club) is only €32.9 million.
However, this belies the fact that the EPL TV rights are worth much more. When you look at the ratio of the payouts, the ratio of the top-earning side to the bottom is 1.6:1. When you compare this to the Bundesliga, Bayern €65.4 million from the Bundesliga’s national television deal, while Fortuna just €25.412 – a ratio of 2.5:1.
Looking at the other big 5 leagues, the ratio in France and Spain is worse still, both clocking in around 3.5:1, while Italy’s Serie A is the most inequitable, chalking up 4.5:1!
Besides the TV deals, the teams also exploit their global fanbases to generate revenue through sponsorship. The three biggest are Shirt or Main Sponsor, The Kit Supplier, and The Sleeve Sponsor.
Some clubs have also sold off the naming rights to their stadium, for example, Manchester City plays at The Etihad and Bournemouth at the Vitality.
On top of this are several smaller sponsorships so that brands can use club crests and players’ images in their advertising. For example, several clubs have mobile phone manufacturers sponsoring them.
Shirt or Main Sponsors
Main sponsorships are the names you associate with each team. When you think of Arsenal you picture “Fly Emirates” and Manchester United with the golden Chevy cross emblazoned on their shirts.
These are the sponsors who make the most significant contributions to the team, in most cases, over 50%, however, the kit deals for the biggest teams can even dwarf their main sponsors!
The big deals for the kit are dominated by Nike and Adidas, with Puma, Umbro, Under Armour and New Balance also being seen in the EPL.
These deals go from £1 million per year for the smaller teams through to the massive deals for the big 6 that give them multi-year deals that are pushing £50 million a season.
These deals are, in essence, a licensing deal which enables the kit manufacturers to use the club’s brand to sell branded appa rel. The teams benefit from a kit deal because their sponsor gives them a sum of money, provides their kit (or uniforms) and for each sale of anything sold with their crest on, the team will receive 10-15% of revenue from each transaction.
With this in mind it is no wonder that if you walk into a big sportswear store, you are bombarded with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea gear everywhere.
These deals only account from the gear worn from the socks up. The players negotiate their own boot deals. Some of these are very lucrative, but only for the real superstars. Most are little more than free boots for the year.
Shirt sleeve sponsorships are new to the Premier League. As of the 2017-2018 season, teams are allowed to have a sponsor on the left sleeve with a Premier League logo on the right sleeve.
These sponsors are there as a supporting sponsor, so they don’t contribute a huge amount, but some are reported to be approaching £20 million per season.
After Stan Kroenke took sole ownership of the club, buying out Alisher Usmanov’s 30 percent stake for US$700 million and long-serving manager Arsene Wenger was replaced by former Seville and PSG coach Unai Emery, this season was always expected to be a work in progress as they rebuilt.
They finished the season 5th, one place higher than the previous year, and reached the finals of the Europa League after reaching the semi-finals in the previous campaign, so progress was made on the pitch. However, they missed out on the lucrative Champions League and so do not have as much money to strengthen as Emery, in particular, would like.
Arsenal’s main sponsor is Emirates Airline (who also have the naming rights to their stadium). This 5-year deal expires in 2024 and the £200 million brings them in £40 million per season with other bonuses for performance.
Arsenal’s Puma deal ended this year and Adidas was able to snag the deal to supply Arsenal with their kit in the coming 2019/20 season. This 5-year deal is worth around £300 million, bringing then in another £60 million.
On the left sleeve, you’ll see the logo of the Rwanda Tourist Board. This controversial deal is said to be worth £30 million over 3 years.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil was Arsenal’s most expensive player when he signed from Real Madrid. He signed a contract extension making him by far the highest-paid player at the club, taking home a reported £350k per week.
While he has moments of brilliance, his performances do not seem to have enamoured new boss Unai Emery, who frequently leaves him on the subs bench and has lead to a lot of speculation that he may be on the move in this transfer window. However, his huge wages make this an issue, both if Arsenal keeps him, or sells him on!
Through all this, Mesut Ozil is still the highest-sponsored player on the team. Aside from his team sponsorships, he has personal sponsors including his £25 million Adidas deal, Beats Electronics (unreported), and Mercedes-Benz (unreported).
Chelsea started the 2018/19 season with a new manager in the shape of Maurizio Sarri. Although by most people’s standards he had a good season, finishing the league in third and winning the Europa League, he never really connected with Chelsea’s fans.
When Italian giants Juventus came calling, Chelsea did not put up too much of a fight to keep him and are, at the time of writing, just looking for a replacement before they let him leave.
A change in manager is just one of their issues in this offseason though. Their star player, Eden Hazard has just moved to Real Madrid and they are staring at a transfer ban. So whoever they chose is going to have a task on their hands.
The Blues hold a sponsorship contract with Yokohama Rubber for a total of £200 million over five years. This brings them in £40 million per year – about par for the big 6 EPL currently.
Nike became Chelsea’s kit supplier, in a monster of a deal. The Nike deal is reported to be worth £60m a season for the next 15 years (although this was never confirmed by the club or Nike)
This deal proved to be so enticing that they ended their previous Adidas deal six years early…£60 million a year will do that I guess!
Hyundai was able to make their way onto the left sleeve of this popular strip for £50 million over 5 years. This is currently the most valuable sleeve deal in the EPL, bringing them an additional £10 million per season.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Eden Hazard
As mentioned before, Eden Hazard left Chelsea for Real Madrid this summer. Not only is he a favorite on the field, but he is a hot commodity amongst the companies looking to sponsor.
He personally has three sponsors: Topps, Lotus Bakeries, and his boot deal with Nike.
Topps has partnered with him to provide his own trading card line and Nike is his most significant contributor, but the most fun one is the Lotus Biscuits campaign…although I wouldn’t like to be the person cleaning up after him!
Any season in which a team wins the Champion’s League and clocks up 97 points in the league, would be considered exceptional. It would have won the title in all but two years the EPL has been fought. However, Liverpool were pipped to the post in the EPL by a quite extraordinary Manchester City side that has brought up the two tallies that top it.
But Liverpool’s recent resurgence under the ownership of Fenway Sport (who also own The Boston Red Sox) and leadership of head coach Jurgen Klopp has put them right back among Europe’s elite.
One of the few sides to have a non-gambling UK based sponsor, Standard Chartered has been the main sponsor since 2011. This has recently been renewed in a £160 million, 4-year deal, putting their £40 million a season haul on par with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
The kit supplier for Liverpool is unusual as New Balance are not the first brand that comes to mind when you think of soccer! This deal has been pretty good for Liverpool and for establishing New Balance in the soccer world.
However, this deal is due to expire in May 2020 after a seven-year run. Liverpool’s impressive performances over the last few seasons have reportedly got Nike interested, but New Balance has apparently got a “matching offer” clause which means that if they match any new offer, they can extend the contract.
What this means is that next season Liverpool’s kit deal is likely to see a significant increase on their current £25 million per season arrangement.
Western Union is the official sleeve sponsor until 2022 and is worth £25 million or £5 million per season.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Virgil Van Dijk
Virgil Van Dijk is the club captain and one of the highest-paid players at Liverpool. This is unusual for a defender, but Virgil is no ordinary defender having picked up a plethora of individual awards as well as a Champion’s League winner’s medal. This has made him hot property and sponsorship deals are rolling in.
He is currently the face of the Nike Tempo Legend VII football boot, but with this deal due to end, the two big German manufacturers, Adidas and Puma, are looking to tempt him into their footwear.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Mo Salah
Mo Salah arrived at Liverpool from Roma and immediately set the place on fire, scoring 32 goals in 36 games and winning him plenty of plaudits and awards. His salary was quickly increased and he is believed to be the highest-paid player at Liverpool.
Alongside his salary, he also has personal deals with Adidas and Vodafone while he has also been involved with Falken Tyres, AlexBank and Uber and was recently announced as a brand ambassador for DHL.
After a historic 2017/18 season where Manchester City scored 100 points and 106 goals (both records), you would think they might have a bit of a comedown the following year. However this year they were utterly majestic domestically and picked up the Premier League title, The FA Cup, and the League Cup – a feat never before achieved.
However, since their takeover by Sheikh Monsur, they have been dogged by accusations of Financial Fair Play irregularities, which has already seen them fined and had their Champion’s League squad size reduced. The latest accusations have led to speculation that they may be barred from taking their place in The Champion’s League next season.
Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi national airline, have covered its sky blue jerseys for the last nine years, and this will continue until the 2021 season. This sponsorship deal was worth £400 million over ten years, which also included stadium naming rights. This would bring them in around £40 million per season.
However, it was reported that this may have been upgraded in the interim to somewhere close to double this amount, although this has not been confirmed.
After several years with Nike, Manchester City has switched to Puma for the next season. This has been reported as being worth £650 million over ten years, or £65 million per season – a significant increase on the £12 million their previous deal earned.
This deal includes Manchester City’s global satellite clubs such as Melbourne FC in Australia and Girona in Spain as well as the women’s team.
The sleeve sponsor is Nexen Tire and they are providing £10 million per season.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Raheem Sterling
While Manchester City is a club packed with high-profile players including Sergio Aguero and Kevin DeBreuyne, one player has a habit of picking up the headlines – Raheem Sterling.
At one point it seemed like he could do nothing wrong in the eyes of the public. However, as his goalscoring improved for both club and country, public opinion softened towards him.
However, it was not until he spoke out about the racial abuse he was subjected to that things really changed. Backed by a campaign by his sponsors, Nike, his message has turned his public perception from playboy gangsta into racial equality spokesperson and role model.
Manchester United are one of the biggest sports teams in the world. They hold the record for the most EPL titles, however, since the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, they have been through several coaches but not found any consistency on the pitch.
This year saw them turn to a Ferguson old boy in the shape of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer as coach and while there was a brief resurgence under him, they slipped to 6th, their worst finish in a very long time.
However, being Manchester United, they still bring in huge amounts of money and it is estimated they are the highest earning club globally from sponsorship totaling around £240 million per season. With their reputation and financial clout, they certainly have the draw to attract the type of players they need to reclaim past glories.
General Motors paid an arm and a leg to represent the most famous team in the Premier League, or about £53 million per season to be more accurate.
Adidas proudly provides the kit for a whopping £750 million over ten years, netting them a cool £75 million per season.
A new sleeve sponsorship was signed with Kohler for £20 million per season, and this is, you will not be surprised to hear, currently the most valuable sleeve deal in the league.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Paul Pogba
In 2017, Paul Pogba was the most expensive player in the world. As of 2019, he is the 5th highest paid football player earning about £37 million, although only the second highest at Old Trafford after the arrival of Alexis Sanchez.
Since returning he has rarely hit the heights and has been strongly linked with a move away from Manchester this summer
He holds only one personal sponsorship, but it is an extremely profitable one. He signed on with Adidas for ten years and the contract is worth £31 million.
Spurs, under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, have firmly established themselves among the big 6. While their commercial deals are less than many of their nearest rivals, their new 60 000 seat stadium will see match day revenues rise while their recent successes will translate into bigger commercial deals too.
Insurance company AIA are Spurs main sponsor, netting them £35 million per season. This is pretty good but very definitely the lowest of the big 6, standing £5 million less than Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, £10 million less than Manchester City and a whopping £13 million less than Manchester United
Spurs have recently extended their Nike deal until 2033 (yes, you read that right!) and will bring them in about £30 million, again lower than their immediate rivals.
Spurs are one of the few clubs without a sleeve sponsor. Chairman Daniel Levy explained that this was because until they sold the naming rights to the new stadium, they did not want to take on a sleeve sponsor as this may form part of the package.
Notable Player Sponsorships – Harry Kane
Winning the EPL golden boot a few times gets you noticed, but winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup really puts you on the map, and this is exactly what Harry Kane did.
Since then he has added to his Nike deal with others including Lucozade Sport, Beats by Dre, Hugo Boss, and EA Sports… a pretty darn impressive line-up!
The other 15 Premier teams and their sponsorships:
Bournemouth: Shirt- M88 (4M) Sleeve- Mansion Kit- Umbro (5M)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Shirt- American Express (1.5M) Sleeve- JD Kit- Nike (1M)
Burnley: Shirt- Laba360 (5M) Sleeve- Astropay Kit- Puma (1M)
Cardiff City: Shirt- Visit Malaysia (3M) Sleeve- JD Kit- Adidas
Crystal Palace: Shirt- ManBetX (6.5M) Sleeve- Dongqiudi Kit- Puma
Everton: Shirt- SportPesa (9.6M) Sleeve- Rovio Kit- Umbro (30M)
Fulham: Shirt- Dafabet (3M) Sleeve- ICM Kit- Adidas
Huddersfield Town: Shirt- OPE (1.5M) Sleeve- Leisu Sports Kit- Umbro
Leicester City: Shirt- King Power (4M) Sleeve- Bia Saigon (ThaiBev) Kit- Adidas
Newcastle United: Shirt- Fun88 (6.5M) Sleeve- NONE Kit- Puma (4M)
Southampton: Shirt- Virgin Media (6M) Sleeve- Virgin Media (1.2M) Kit- Under Armour (4M)
Tottenham Hotspur: Shirt- AIA 35 mil Sleeve- NONE Kit- Nike (6M)
Watford: Shirt- FxPro (3M) Sleeve- MoPlay Kit- Adidas
West Ham United: Shirt- Betway (10M) Sleeve- Basset & Gold Kit- Umbro (4M)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Shirt- W88 (5M) Sleeve- CoinDeal Kit- Adidas
That is a lot of cash!
Overall, the sponsorship game in the football world is exceptionally lucrative. The Premier League is only one example of this gigantic industry, and it alone is worth £3.8 billion. Once other European Leagues are added in, sponsorships will make up billions of profit for these leagues. Imagine that!
The love of football will never die out, and neither will the never-ending cycle of trades and sponsorships. This is definitely the way these football teams like it!
Written by Danielle Hernandez