Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Football's [Pounds Sterling]720 Million Spend, Spend, Spend Fever

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Football's [Pounds Sterling]720 Million Spend, Spend, Spend Fever

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT LEA

PREMIER League football clubs paid their players pound sterling720 million last season - the average Premiership footballer getting a massive 28% pay rise, an exclusive Evening Standard survey has revealed.

The game may have acknowledged that it is in financial crisis and the industry's magnates such as Chelsea boss Ken Bates may be talking of "reversing past extravagances", but the naked spending addiction of the country's top clubs is laid bare by their own statutory financial returns.

Latest available reports and accounts reveal that from the pound sterling1.15 billion the 20 Premiership clubs earned last year, nearly three quarters of a billion pounds went on player and team management wages. The returns show most clubs are chronically loss-making. Some are racking up bulging debts: Leeds United and Chelsea, which both made thumping losses, ended the financial year with debts of pound sterling80 million apiece.

Clubs that appeared to make healthy profits, such as Liverpool, did so only after cashing in star home-grown players like Robbie Fowler on the transfer market. Over half of the profit made by Manchester United - the most financially robust club in the English game - came from the sales of Jaap Stam, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, cash which immediately went towards the pound sterling33 million spent on Rio Ferdinand after the end of the financial year.

The 28% rise in player wages - pound sterling160 million more than in the previous season - demonstrates the clubs are continuing to live well above their means: annual revenues rose by only 16% and every club paid its players far in excess of income from the lucrative but soontoend Sky broadcasting contract.

Yet spiralling wages appear not to perturb the Football Association.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore at the start of the season called for a register of footballers' wages. "Player contracts are confidential but I for one would be in favour of full public transparency in player wages and bonuses," he said. "I think that would have a deflationary effect on wages." But faced with the vested interests and legal rights of clubs and players, that initiative has been quietly shelved. …

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