Premier League clubs could become ‘virtually untouchable’ as financial dominance leaves European rivals behind

Football finance experts predict that all 20 Premier League clubs will soon feature in the top 30 richest in the world, as the English top flight dwarfs the revenues of Europe’s major leagues.

Deloitte on Thursday released its latest Football Money League in which 11 of the top 20 wealthiest clubs are English for the first time.

The teams are ranked on total revenues for the 2021-22 season and Manchester City top the table for a second successive year, earning an astonishing £641.1m, according to the club’s accounts.

But for the first time since Deloitte began ranking the planet’s wealthiest clubs, more than half of the top 20 are made up from one country. Liverpool (3rd) and Manchester United (4th) are in the top five, alongside Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Newcastle United, now backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund sneak into 20th. Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all make the top 10. While West Ham, Leicester, Leeds and Everton all make the top 20. It means two of the Premier League’s bottom three clubs, currently fighting relegation, are some of the world’s richest clubs.

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“The Premier League’s financial superiority is unlikely to be challenged in the coming seasons,” said Sam Boor, a director at Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. “This is particularly apparent at a time when these clubs continue to attract international investment which often, in the best examples, encourages a focus on profitability, as well as on-pitch success. It’s now likely a case of not if, but when, all 20 Premier League clubs will appear in the Money League top 30.”

Former Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli warned on Wednesday, when he stepped down from the Italian club following an investigation into its accounting, that if European football is not reformed the Premier League will soon dominate.

“I believed and still believe that European soccer needs structural reforms to tackle the future,” Agnelli said during his final press conference. “Otherwise we are heading for inexorable decline for soccer in favor of a dominant league, the Premier League, which over a few years will attract all the European talent and marginalize the others.”

Agnelli was one of the key figures in the Super League breakaways that was eventually derailed. Agnelli claims that a Super League, from which none of the top 15 clubs in Europe would have been relegated for at least 23 years, would have solved the financial problems in European football. The Premier League “Big Six” had all signed up to the breakaway competition before it collapsed.

PARMA, ITALY - AUGUST 24: Juventus President Andrea Agnelli looks on during the Serie A match between Parma Calcio and Juventus at Stadio Ennio Tardini on August 24, 2019 in Parma, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Andrea Agnelli was one of the key figures behind the Super League plot (Photo: Getty)

Javier Tebas, head of Spain’s La Liga and a fierce critic of the Super League, has also stressed that spending in the Premier League is unsustainable.

“What I’m worried about is the Premier League, and I’ve been worried for many years now,” he said. “But now it’s converted into a competition that has losses all year. All clubs lose money. There is no sustainability in the Premier League. The Premier League is not a financially sustainable model.”

He added: “They’re financed by the owners but with enormous amounts of money and that is distorting the market. They get more revenue, OK. But you lose money. And you’re injecting one and a half billion every year. What does it mean? It means you’re not sustainable at all.”

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “For the first time, Premier League clubs fill the lion’s share of positions in Deloitte’s Football Money League. The question now is whether other leagues can close the gap, likely by driving the value of future international media rights, or if the Premier League will be virtually untouchable, in revenue terms.

Deloitte Money League Top 20

  • 1. Manchester City
  • 2. real Madrid
  • 3. Liverpool
  • 4. Manchester United
  • 5. PSG
  • 6. Bayern Munich
  • 7. Barcelona
  • 8. Chelsea
  • 9. Tottenham
  • 10. arsenal
  • 11. Juventus
  • 12. Atletico Madrid
  • 13. Borussia Dortmund
  • 14. Inter Milan
  • 15. West Ham
  • 16. AC Milan
  • 17. Leicester City
  • 18. Leeds
  • 19. Everton
  • 20. Newcastle

“The Premier League was the only one of the Big Five European leagues to experience an increase in its media rights value during its most recent rights sale process. It continues to appeal to millions of global followers and its member clubs have a greater revenue advantage over international rivals.

“Commercial partner, fan and investor interest in the Premier League appears higher than ever before. While this suggests optimism for further growth, continued calls for greater distribution of the financial wealth of English clubs across the football system and the impact of a cost-of-living crisis makes it all the more important for the game’s stakeholders to keep a clear focus on their responsibility as stewards of leading clubs.”

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