Financial Report with Pen and Calculator

How Much Money Do Premier League Clubs Make and How Do They Generate Their Income?

Football began life purely as a sport but for many, especially at the elite level, it is now very much a business. How people feel about this varies, although the reaction to the European Super League proposal in 2021 suggests that at some level at least, most fans still feel sporting principles have to be the foundation on which football is built. Others would use capitalism as the foundation and attempt to build the tallest, biggest, shiniest football skyscraper known to humanity, even if the benefit is only shared by those who live in the penthouse and the work and cost is put in by fans.

Before we break into a rant about greed in football, let us return to the subject: how do football clubs make money? No matter which side of the Super League debate you are on, no matter whether you are a socialist or free market capitalist, and irrespective of whether you believe football is first and foremost a sport or a business, if you want professional football to exist, clubs have to generate an income.

Two Footballs in Contrasting StylesOf course, even amateur and youth clubs have running costs and costs to maintain facilities. Whilst these can often be met by player subscriptions or the occasional cake sale, try telling Mesut Ozil he has to pay £8.50 to get a game or getting Mrs Bale to knock out three tray bakes. What’s more, professional clubs have rather greater financial needs than can be met by shifting a few slices of Victoria sponge and the occasional race night.

So, how do football clubs generate their income? How is their income split between the obvious streams (TV, ticket sales, sponsorship and so on) and are there any important but less obvious sources of income? How much is prize money worth and how does the TV money break down between different clubs?

In this article, we will focus on the Premier League but we’ll also point out any major or interesting differences between England’s top flight and other competitions as appropriate. In addition, we will try to keep things as general as possible but of course figures change over time. At the time of writing it is difficult to fully know how the events of 2020 (and beyond) will really impact the game’s finances, however a lot of the data we will look at will predate that in any case. Right, now show us the money!

How Do Premier League Clubs Generate Their Money?

3D Football Stadium with Floodlights

As said, we will focus on the Premier League but as a general rule, the lower down the football ladder we go, the higher the proportion of revenue that comes from match day sources. The big clubs in the Premier League, and especially the division’s biggest sides, have so many different streams of income that ticket sales, programmes, food and drink sold inside the ground and other such money makers are a relatively small slice of the pie. Of course, these big clubs make more than the other sides do from tickets, hospitality packages and so on but in relation to their overall revenue it is less significant.

Figures vary from club to club on all these matters and due to the slow nature of accounting, there is quite a lag between a team’s financial performance and the publishing of the relevant accounts that fully detail it. The match day incomes have, of course, been massively hit of late but let us look back to the 2017-18 season when life was oh so simple.

This is the most recent period for which we have detailed and reliable information based on the fully published accounts of all the sides that were in the Premier League that season. This is based on information reported to Companies House and collated and compiled by The Guardian.

Depending on the club, figures were reported for a different range of broad areas, including the following:

  • TV & Broadcasting – the main EPL TV rights deal is central here, with other deals for the global rights, sides in European competition and other minor ones adding to the pot too.
  • Sponsorship, Advertising & Commercial – the main shirt sponsor is often the biggest deal a club has but stadium naming rights are growing in popularity and are massively valuable. The best commercialised teams have deals for just about everything though, from their training ground and training kit right through to official food and beverage partners, tyre makers, car providers and much more.
  • Prize Money – sides that play in the Champions League and Europa League (and other UEFA or FIFA club competitions) supplement their handsome prize money from the Premier League and other domestic competitions. Increasingly “prize money” is tied in with and linked to the broadcasting revenues though, so in our analysis we have tended to include it there.
  • Gate & Match Day Income – match day income is generated through ticket sales and, for many clubs, increasingly hospitality and corporate packages. Be it Champagne in a hospitality bar or a pie and a pint, as well as programmes and retail outlets in and around the ground, clubs try to monetise match day as much as possible.
  • Hospitality & Events – outside of gate receipts, clubs may show hospitality revenue separately and will also generate money from hosting other events such as concerts or providing facilities for other sports such as the NFL, Super League and the Rugby Union
  • Retail/Merchandise – shirt sales are a major source of income for the biggest clubs whilst official shops and websites sell just about every item you could imagine with the club crest on, be it a toaster or a football, baby’s clothes or travel luggage. In addition, licensing deals for club-branded products may add to this.
  • Transfers – transfers are usually an expense but canny recruitment and youth development can lead to this being a reliable source of income. At larger clubs fans expect such funds (and more) to be reinvested in players but with smaller teams this can be a reliable way to fund the running of the club. As an example, Portuguese giants Porto and Benfica are estimated to have made over £1bn from player transfers over the years!
  • Property Development – Clubs may buy and sell land to develop facilities such as training centres. Club may also move stadia which has a significant impact on the balance sheet

Somewhat confusingly, there is no standardised format for how clubs report their income, so some use very broad catch-all definitions whilst others are more specific. “Other” can mean different things; some include hospitality, events, catering, retail and so on simply as match day income, whilst others use “Commercial” as a simple term to cover all their off-pitch earnings, such as TV money, other broadcasting rights and sponsorship. Then you might get unusual and one-off sources of income, such as property development if a club sells their old ground or training facility. Equally, from time to time, a team may actually benefit financially from transfers, making this an additional way of funding the wider club.

Contrasting Fortunes

In short, there is variation in just about everything but to give you some idea let us look at three clubs from the season in question: Manchester United (the PL’s biggest earners), Newcastle United (who came in eighth) and Huddersfield Town (who had the joint lowest income in the league).

Manchester United

United are consistently (though not always) the Premier League club with the biggest revenue and have in the past been the highest earning and most valuable football team on the planet. Their accounts ending June 2018 showed that their turnover was £590m, with gate and match day income delivering £110m of that, TV and broadcasting £204m and commercial income the big money spinner at £276m.

Newcastle United

Newcastle had a turnover of £178m, the majority of which came from TV and broadcasting. The global pull of the Premier League in that regard earned them £126m, with “commercial and other income” coming in at £28m and gate and match day reported as £24m.

Huddersfield Town

Minnows Huddersfield saw their revenue jump from £16m the season prior, when they were in the Championship, to a sizeable £125m. Gate receipts accounted for £5m of that, with what they termed “Premier League income” (and we assume was largely TV money) coming in at £110m and commercial activities delivering £7m. Their accounts were rounded out by a total of £3m for “retail and other”.

What the Figures Tell Us

These stats show just what a huge difference in income there is between sides in the Premier League. That said, Huddersfield’s huge jump in turnover also indicates just how valuable making it into the top tier is to a club. The TV money alone automatically catapults any side into the financial elite, with that bolstered by substantial prize money.

We will now look at the categories detailed above to illustrate these points, and how for the smallest Premier League sides, the TV money represents a huge portion of their earnings. We will also consider how the PL compares with other major European leagues in some of these regards.

Premier League Broadcasting Revenue

Football Stadium TV Camera

As said, for the top flight’s minnows, broadcasting revenue is usually by far and away their main source of income. For example in Brighton and Hove Albion’s accounts for the year ending 30th June 2018, they showed total turnover of £139m (ranking them 13th in the division). A huge £110m of this was listed as “broadcasting”, meaning they generated a massive 79% of all their cash thanks to TV and related deals.

In contrast, bigger clubs earn slightly more from TV deals in absolute terms but it is typically a much smaller piece of the overall pie. For example in the same time period, Arsenal made £180m from what they termed “TV and Broadcasting”, far more than Brighton. However that represented just 45% of their overall £403m turnover.

The Premier League has one of the fairest, or perhaps we should say most even, methods of distributing TV revenue between teams. The bulk of the pot is divided equally between all teams, in contrast to other countries where the bigger sides are rewarded more in proportion to the media interest they command and the viewing figures their games generate.

KPMG’s Football Benchmark study published in August 2019 shows how broadcasting revenues vary between big and small clubs within different leagues. The chart below features the top and bottom earners from the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A (earnings in millions of Euros).

Chart That Shows Broadcast Revenue vs Other Revenue at Selected Football Clubs

Liverpool earned more than twice as much money as Stoke did, seemingly a huge difference. However, in Spain Real Madrid made six times as much as minnows Leganes, whilst in Italy Juve brought in nine times what Crotone did. The chart also shows how for the smaller clubs, even those outside the Premier League who only receive a minor proportion of domestic TV rights money, broadcast revenue is central. All three of our lower earners made more than 70% of their income from TV money, whilst for all three of the bigger clubs broadcasting income is a minority of overall turnover.

As we have said, the PL has a more equitable method of distributing TV money than its rivals but what, then, accounts for the huge difference between Liverpool (€248m) and Stoke (€114m)? A large part of the difference comes from Liverpool’s involvement in the Champions League. They earned money in a range of ways from involvement in Europe’s biggest competition but one of them was a substantial split of the TV money.

The other key factor is that whilst the PL deal includes a flat payment of the same value to all teams (currently over £30m), it also includes other payments that are not divided equally. Looking at this we can now access more up to date figures so the following information relates to the 2019-20 PL season and shows how TV earnings vary by club.

As well as the main “equal share” reward, £31.8m for the period in question, additional payments are made according to how many teams a side is featured live (known as facility fees) and where they finish in the table (known as merit payments). The exact structuring of the deal has changed over the years and the values change according to how much the latest rights package was worth. Currently 50% of the domestic deal is assigned to the equal per-club payment, with 25% being used for facility fees and 25% for merit payments.

Overseas TV payments had, for many years, been distributed equally between all clubs. However in the 2019-2022 TV deal this changed so that some allowance was made for where a side finished in the league. So, in 2019-20, PL winners Liverpool earned £71.3m from the overseas part of the EPL broadcasting deal. This dropped to £55.8m for city rivals Everton, who finished 10th in the money rankings (and 12th in the league), and Norwich, who ended that campaign bottom (of the league table and the TV earnings), who made £44.6m.

Let us look more closely at how the TV money alters by club using these same three sides to represent the top, middle and bottom of the league.

Liverpool Everton Norwich
League Position 1st 12th 20th
Equal Share £31.8m £31.8m £31.8m
Facility fee £31m £19.6m £11.3m
Merit payment £35.5m £16m £1.8m
Overseas deal £71.3m £55.8m £44.6m
Commercial £5m £5m £5m
Total £174.6m £128.2m £94.5m

European TV Money

Champions League Trophy with Red and White Ribbons
Image: katatonia82, Bigstock Photo

In addition to earning broadcast revenue through the Premier League, sides can also earn through the European and domestic cup competitions. For sides who make it into the Champions League this can mean huge additional income. The most recent season for which there is an official UEFA statement is the 2019-20 season, so we will base our stats on that.

UEFA announced that they expected to earn around €3.25bn from their two main competitions and the Super Cup. Of this estimated figure they planned to be able to distribute €2.55bn to participating clubs. Just over €2bn of that was set aside for the Champions League, with €510m going to Europa League clubs.

That shows just how much more valuable the premier competition is, especially as 50% more teams enter the Europa League. How payments are scheduled for both competitions is highly complex so we will not go into full detail about that here but it is available at the UEFA site. Given its financial significance, we will focus on the Champions League (though the Europa League uses a very similar model), which gives around €5 million to each of the 12 sides eliminated in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

The remaining sum, forecast to be just under €2bn, is split as follows:

  • 25%, starting fees, €488m – the 32 clubs who qualify for the group phase receive around €15m each no matter what.
  • 30%, performance fees, €585m – each point at the group stage is effectively worth €900,000, meaning a side that wins all six games scoops an additional €16.2m. See below for more info on this.
  • 30%, coefficient ranking, €585m – controversially UEFA introduced a system that rewarded sides for their performance in Europe over the last 10 years. The side with the worst co-efficient received just €1.1m whilst the top dogs would swell their already swollen coffers by over €35m as a reward for all the success they’d had in the past!
  • 15%, market pool, €292m – another somewhat controversial method of distribution, this rewards teams “in accordance with the proportional value of each TV market represented”, according to their performance in the competition and how they performed in their domestic league to qualify.

The performance fee aspect of this revenue could be included under prize money but in order to keep all Champions League financing together we will include it here. As well as a payment for wins (and draws) in the group stage, clubs also receive the following:

  • Qualification for last 16 – €9.5m
  • Qualification for quarters – €10.5m
  • Qualification for semis – €12m
  • Qualification for final – €15m
  • Winning – an extra €4m
  • European Super Cup – the winners qualify for the Super Cup and receive at least €3.5m for that (around €4.5m if they win it)

These rewards are cumulative too, so the winner will receive all of them, not just the €19m for winning the final. That means that should a side win every single game including the final and the Super Cup, they would land a staggering €86.7m, in addition to their coefficient and market pool payments. Not bad!

Domestic Cup Broadcasting Income

Wembley Stadium Arch
Image: tenor, Bigstock Photo

TV income for the FA Cup was once a fairly straightforward matter but with more options to watch games and different facilities available it is now more complex. The rates paid increase as the competition progresses, with the official FA website stating that for selected third round ties in 2021 the “FA live broadcast fee for … is £37,500 per club.” That was for 16 games shown on a “combination of BBC and BT Sport’s digital platforms and linear red button services”. Some fixtures were shown on The FA Player and clubs got just £20,000 for this. However, the eight main games that were shown with full broadcasts saw clubs receive £75,000 each.

For the fourth round this increased to £85,000 per club for some games and £42,500 for others. In the fifth round this increased to £97,500 for all clubs. It is unclear how much sides received for the later rounds, however, we can estimate that it would increase modestly.

When it comes to the League Cup the sums are even less impressive. As with prize money, in terms of TV earnings it is very much all about the Champions League. TV money for the domestic cups can provide a real boost to the smaller clubs involved, as do the gate receipts if they are drawn away at a large club. However, for sides in the Premier League the value of the FA Cup and League Cup is now very limited when compared to the huge sums they receive for being in the top flight.


Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic Playing for Manchester United
Image: vverve, Bigstock Photo

Of course, success begets success and if a club does manage to win the Champions League, you can bet that a host of huge international companies will want to be associated with them. Whilst teams in League Two or League One may have to settle for being sponsored by the local popstar (Ed Sheeran and Ipswich Town) and Championship clubs are probably going to be involved with a bookie or online casino, the Premier League elite draw the big bucks from the likes of Chevrolet, Etihad and Standard Chartered.

US car giant General Motors sponsored Man United’s shirt with their Chevrolet brand for a whopping £64m a season. The seven-year deal was announced in 2012, began in 2014, and was a huge increase on the previous £20m per season deal they had with Aon. Given United’s relatively poor performance in the years since, that looks like a lot of money badly spent.

From United’s point of view, it was a sensational deal and in 2019-20 it was worth £19m a season more than Man City’s deal with Etihad and £24m a season more than the deals enjoyed by Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal. Spurs’ deal with AIA was worth £35m but then there is a huge drop to West Ham and Everton whose main shirt sponsors delivered around £10m.

Sponsorship is about a lot more than just the shirt though and even now, years after they were at the top of the English, let alone European game, Man United have an almost comically long list of global partners. They have an “Official Medical Systems Partner”, as well as wine and spirits partners, HCL, the “Official Digital Transformation Partner of Manchester United”, a coffee partner, logistics partner and the list goes on. And on.

We mock, but each of these “partners” are paying good money to be associated with arguably the world’s most popular club. In addition to these many global partners they have regional partners too, in 2016 the list was around 65 strong and frankly we can’t keep up. All clubs work in the same way to greater or largely lesser extents. There are billboards at the ground, TV adverts featuring players, names emblazoned on training kits, sleeve sponsors and all sorts of commercial tie-ins.

Many dislike this aspect of the game but of course huge signings and mega wages need to be paid somehow, so clubs are always open to offers. The biggest deals can be worth staggering amounts and many were amazed when Man United and Adidas agreed a reported £750m deal in 2014. The £75m per season saw Adidas replace Nike as the Red Devils’ kit manufacturer and in 2020 Liverpool reportedly signed an even more lucrative deal with Nike.

Given that even with inflated TV revenues many Premier League clubs have total turnovers of less than £200m per year, deals such as these illustrate just how much cash the top sides can draw in. Of course, many sponsorship, partnership and commercial agreements are not worth anything like these amounts, even at clubs like Manchester United. But even so, sponsorship remains a huge part of a club’s revenue, especially sides who are able to produce the goods on the pitch.

Match Day Income

Arsenal Emirates Stadium

Match day income includes a range of things and is largely dependent on how many fans a club attracts – and of course how big their stadium is. These are not the only factors though, with ticket cost having an obvious link to how much money a club raises in this way and the demographics of the fans, and nature of provision for them, also key.

By this latter point we mean that clubs draw more and more of their money from corporate and hospitality fans than they do their core supporters in the stands. This is in the same way that airlines make much of their money from business class passengers rather than the larger number of people in economy. A lack of hospitality facilities and suites is why many clubs have moved from old stadia, with new builds placing a far greater emphasis on the game’s modern demographic.

In their 2017-18 accounts, Arsenal listed gate and match day income as an impressive £99m. This sum reflects their involvement in Europe and cups, as well as their high average attendance, high ticket prices and the fact that the Emirates has huge numbers of boxes and suites. Compare this with Burnley, whose match income is listed at £6m out of a total turnover of £139m. Burnley do list catering at £3m but even if we include this it is clear that they are nowhere near Arsenal’s income. Their more working class fan base, smaller, older ground and northern location mean they simply cannot match the Gunners.

The gate and match day income for some of the other Premier League’s big boys is listed below, with some lower-earning sides for reference.

  • Arsenal – £99m
  • Chelsea – £74m
  • Liverpool – £81m
  • Man City – £57m
  • Man United – £110m
  • Newcastle United – £24m
  • Southampton – £19m

Due to the incidents of 2020 the BBC looked at the possible impact of having no fans inside stadia. They reported, in line with what we see above, that Manchester United made the most from their home games and due to having the “highest capacity and average attendance in the Premier League, generated over £4m per match in 2018-19.” They reported that just six clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, were responsible for 73% of all match day income in the English top tier.

Since the Premier League began in 1992-93, income generated through games has grown from £89m to £677m. However, whilst it was responsible for 43% of clubs’ combined turnover in the 1990s, it now accounts for just 13%. This is largely down to the explosion in TV and commercial revenue.

Tournament Prize Money

Paper Trophy Number 1 Icon

Prize money is in some ways factored into the broadcasting deal, with a side’s share of the pot usually at least partly dependent on where they finished and in the case of the European competitions other factors as well. This is the case with the Premier League, although for the 2020-21 season they have not published exact figures. This has led to some publications estimating/guessing/stating as gospel (depending on their relationship with facts) what “prize money” each club has earned.

We believe that this prize money is actually the merit payment element of the broadcasting deal. Some websites and news sources use the phrase “prize money” as a catch-all covering broadcasting revenue and additional bonus payments as well. This can very much muddy the waters but as much as possible we have tried to look at the two areas separately. Performance-related elements of the broadcasting deal we have covered previously, leaving this section more strictly for prize money. As such we will not include the Premier League here.

For similar reasons we have not included the Champions League or Europa League here either. Some may choose to view payments made for these competitions as prize money. However, as they are so dependent on factors that extend beyond simply tournament progression, we feel it is far fairer and more accurate to cover them under broadcasting.

FA Cup

We will start with the FA Cup because they explicitly talk about an “FA Cup Prize Fund” and kindly publish the exact figures that are to be paid. The lowest fee of – wait for it – £375, is paid to clubs who lose in the extra preliminary round. A side that wins such a tie receives £1,125 and clubs receive payments for all ties they are involved in. So a club that earns the said £1,125 but then loses in the next round will get the initial money plus the £481 for losers of the preliminary round.

This rises steadily but even so, a side who is knocked out in the third round proper receives £20,500 for that particular game, the side that vanquishes them getting a far more impressive £61,500. Some of the amounts for the later stages of the competition are shown below.

Round and result Prize Money
Fifth round proper winners £135,000
Fifth round proper losers £45,000
Quarter-final winners £360,000
Semi-final winners £900,000
Semi-final losers £450,000
Final runners-up £900,000
Final winners £1,800,000

Note that this information is taken directly from the FA website. We assume that the omission of a payment to quarter-final losers is an error and estimate they would receive approximately £120,000.

Because clubs receive payments for all games they play in, as opposed to the winner simply receiving one prize of £1.8m, we can calculate that 2021 FA Cup winners Leicester earned £3,324,000 in total. Obviously to clubs outside the Premier League that may seem a huge sum. But given the Foxes’ EPL “prize money” in the form of a merit payment was probably around £30m, we can see that for the top sides the FA Cup is not a big source of income.

League Cup

If you thought the FA Cup was hardly generous, the League Cup is very much the poor relation even to that. The winners receive a mere £100,000 for victory at Wembley and prizes in this competition are not given for every leg won, so that is all the League Cup is worth to the winners.


Contactless Payment with Black Bank Card

Some clubs will primarily sell their own merchandise via the club shop, or shops, on match day and this financial activity may be included with match day income by some. Everton include it alongside commercial activity and sponsorship for example. West Brom include income of £3m from merchandising in their accounts, with West Ham bringing in £8m from “Retail and merchandising”.

When it comes to merchandising, shirts are the obvious and indeed biggest source of income for most clubs. Much depends on how deals with the kit maker are structured. For example it was reported that Liverpool’s deal with Nike, which some have suggested is worth £75m per season, others £80m and some even £100m, was in fact worth a base £30m. However, the key was that Liverpool will earn 20% of sales, whereas as standard deals often bring as little as 5% to the clubs and rarely more than 15%.


Business Handshake Against Football Pitch

Transfers are generally perceived to be expenditure and indeed many clubs do spend vast sums of money on players. However, some clubs will, in the short term at least, benefit financially from transfers. A side may, for example, sell a star player for £30m but not use that money in the same window or even the same season, or they may just use some of it. Most clubs, especially those in Europe’s big five leagues, reinvest transfer money in new players. However, for some developing youth players, or buying slightly older ones, improving them and selling them on, is virtually a business model.

As we mentioned above, Benfica and Porto have amassed more than £500m each from their transfer activities over the years. Other clubs famous for developing and selling players include Ajax, who are almost £400m in the black, and South American sides such as River Plate (£332m) and Santos (£260m). This data can be seen alongside numbers that show Man City, Man United and Chelsea are all over £1bn down over the same period. Indeed, 10 English clubs feature in the top 20 of net transfer spenders, an indication of the huge commercial success the Premier League has enjoyed, with TV deals and commercial success funding this largesse.

How Earnings Have Changed Over Time

The excellent Statista website used more simple categories to show how Liverpool’s earnings had been split over time. They separate the revenue streams into just three categories: matchday, broadcasting and commercial. The graph below shows how earnings have ballooned over the past decade or so, largely powered by greater commercialisation and sponsorship, and more lucrative broadcasting deals.

Chart Showing Liverpool FC's revenue each season between 2008/09 and 2019/20

What percentage of their finances each club makes from these areas varies dramatically from club to club and can also change significantly from season to season. Of course, some of Liverpool’s financial improvement is related to their improved on-pitch performance.

How Do Other Top Leagues Compare?

Footballs on Training Pitch

We can safely say that clubs in the Premier League and the big five European leagues make most of their money from TV deals and related broadcasting rights. There is variation both between the leagues and within them (from one club to another), with these factors typically representing a larger portion of income for the smaller clubs, with larger clubs being able to command far more money through sponsorship, commercial arrangements and match day income.

In April 2020, the highly respected Benchmark report from KPMG noted that “Broadcast revenues are the main source of total income in almost all of Europe’s top leagues”. This was most markedly the case in the Premier League.

The English top flight collectively generated 58.9% of its income from broadcast deals, with Serie A next (57.5%), then La Liga (53.2%), Ligue 1 (47.7%) and the Bundesliga (39.4%). Details of the domestic broadcast deals for the 2019-20 season show just how far ahead the Premier League is (see table below).

League Matches Shown Revenue
Premier League 200 €1,857,700,000
Bundesliga 306 €1,160,000,000
La Liga 380 €1,151,700,000
Serie A 380 €973,000,000
Ligue 1 380 €726,000,000

Interestingly, despite screening the fewest games live, the PL generates by far the most money. In Italy, Spain and France all matches are televised whilst in England just 53% were. In ‘normal’ times there are restrictions on the live broadcast of games in England at the traditional kick-off times on Saturday afternoon. If we were to see a new normal where this blackout period was removed the PL could yet increase this revenue stream further.

Even so, they already generate around 60% more money than their nearest rivals (La Liga) from the domestic TV deal, just short of double what Serie A brings in and more than two and a half times as much as France’s top flight. And that’s before we even get to international broadcast revenues generated by the sale of TV rights to other countries.

According to the 2019 KPMG Football Benchmark the Premier League’s “dominance” is also palpable on the international media market.” Comparing the most current deals, which do not necessarily span the same timeframes, the report noted that EPL was the only division to generate more than €1bn per season.

Their deal was worth almost €1.6bn per season, with La Liga a distant second on €897m, then an even bigger drop to the Italian top flight (€371m) and Bundesliga (€240m). Ligue 1, sold their international rights for just €80m, around 5% of the Premier League’s deal.

Premier League Growth Outpaces Rivals

Green 3D GraphStatista also neatly show how the financial pre-eminence of the PL has grown over the years. At the start of the 1996-97 season there was not all that much between the collective incomes of the teams in each of Europe’s big five leagues. England was still out in front but revenues were ‘only’ 233% higher than in France and just 24% higher than the nearest rival, which was then Italy.

Fast-forward to 2020-21 and the PL is worth 270% more than Ligue 1 and 68% more than their nearest rival, now La Liga. This is largely but not solely down the broadcasting revenues detailed above. Whilst Germany is the best supported league (in terms of average attendance), their match day incomes are relatively low, with the official Bundesliga website noting that a Bayern Munich season ticket can be had for around £130! They also add that “all season tickets in the Bundesliga for 2019-20 are cheaper than their English equivalents, with Paderborn charging the most at €225 ($256, £202).” Individual tickets are also keenly priced, “RB Leipzig, for example, begin at €15 ($17, £13) – half that of a ‘restricted view’ ticket at a top-four English club.”

Lastly, whilst the Spanish giants and some of the continent’s other big clubs can match, or at least come close, the Premier League’s top sides commercially, the fact that the English top flight is so popular globally means that in general its sides can earn more through sponsorship. This varies greatly from club to club but sponsors want exposure and the value of the TV rights is a pretty good guide to what sort of exposure each league can deliver.

Indeed, the PL generates more than double the income of La Liga from shirt and kit deals. In 2020 it was estimated that teams from the big five leagues made in the region €3.3bn in sponsorship revenue. Around 60% of that came from the main shirt sponsor and the kit manufacturer.

These income streams are especially unequal and heavily weighted to the biggest clubs. The Manchester clubs, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool brought in 83% of the shirt and kit sponsorship value, whilst in Spain Barca and Real scooped 80% of La Liga’s total pot.

So, how do football clubs make money? In a range of ways and with very varying levels of income and splits of where that comes from. But in the big five leagues TV deals, shirt sponsorship, commercial deals with kit makers and to a lesser extend match day income are all key sources of income.