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Wages: Out of Control?

May 29, 2024

Master in Football Business

Wages – the single biggest component in operating expenditure of a football club. While the revenues have increased at a rate of 8.5% CAGR from 2012-2021, in the similar period wage costs too have grown at the rate of 9.1% CAGR (source: UEFA European Football Landscape Report). In this post we will analyse this aspect of club operating expenditure

Wage to Revenue Ratio

Wage/revenue ratio is one of the key performance indicators used to measure the financial sustainability of the club. UEFA recommended keeping wages below 70% of revenue and now, this has now been formally incorporated in the latest regulations as one of the three formal pillars

As per the 2021/22 financial reports submitted by clubs and mentioned in the Deloitte Football Finance Review Report, below are the wages/revenue ratio of the ‘big 5’ leagues

  • Premier League: 67%
  • LALIGA: 73%
  • Bundesliga: 59%
  • Serie A: 83%
  • Ligue1: 87%

In the same vein, the top 20 revenue generating clubs in 22/23 have 60% wages to revenue ratio

Wages: Out of Control? - SBI Barcelona

Premier League

Almost all Premier League clubs have released their 22/23 financial statements. Analysing them based on their individual wages & revenue equations

  • Combined total revenue of the clubs increased by 11% over 21/22 to reach £6.06bn
  • Big 6 clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur cumulatively contributed 57% of the total £6.06bn
  • The cumulative wages of the Premier League clubs grew by 9% over 21/22 to £3.94bn
  • Average wages/revenue (w/r) ratio of the 20 clubs: 65%
  • 50% of the clubs have recorded over 70% w/r ratio
Wages: Out of Control? - SBI Barcelona

Top Revenue Generating Clubs

The top 20 revenue generating clubs contribute almost 44% of the total European football revenues. A prudent look at their revenue and wages equation can give an indication of the direction in which European football is moving.

  • Revenues: Total revenues of the top 20 clubs have increased by 14% over 21/22 to reach €10.5bn
  • Wages: Total wages of the top 20 clubs have decreased by 1% over 21/22 to €6.37bn
  • The Ratio: Average wages/revenue (W/R) ratio in 22/23 is 60% down from 70% in 21/22
  • In 22/23, 4 clubs reported > 70% W/R ratio which has substantially improved from 9 clubs in 21/22
  • In 21/22, 6 clubs reported a very high W/R ratio of >80%, that has reduced to 1 in 22/23
  • Maximum reduction or optimization has been achieved by PSG: 34 percentage points (pp), Inter Milan: 21pp, Juventus & Real Madrid: both by 19pp
Wages: Out of Control? - SBI Barcelona

Cost of a Point

What does a point cost?

Analysing the spends per point for the top 20 revenue generating clubs for the 22/23 season in their respective leagues. In no way, this can be called as a perfect measurement, but it does give some indications

  • Chelsea FC has been on top of the table in this chart with €10.6m per point. With over €1bn in player transfer spends, this was bound to be high. Low league points compounded the position
  • 5 of the top 10 teams namely Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Liverpool have spent between €5m – €6m per point
  • Barcelona and PSG have spent more, €7.3m and €7.4m per point respectively
  • The most economical in the Premier League are Arsenal and Newcastle
  • Overall in the top 20 revenue generating clubs, Napoli has the most economical spend per point ratio at €1.3m
Wages: Out of Control? - SBI Barcelona

 Conclusion

As we can understand, wages play a very crucial role in controlling the expenditure structure. It can spiral out of control or it can be balanced enough to make the clubs lead a sustainable growth. According to various media reports, discussions have already begun to implement measures to control wages including introduction of salary caps. It will be found out in due course of time whether this will be implemented 

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