LONDON (Reuters) - Premiership football players will earn more than 1 billion pounds for the first time next season thanks to television, sponsorship and merchandising deals, a top accountancy firm said on Thursday.
Leading players could command as much as 200,000 pounds per week — or a record 10 million pounds a year — over the next three seasons, accountancy firm Deloitte said in its Annual Review of Football Finance report.
Chelsea’s stars Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko are reported to already make as much as 121,000 pounds a week.
The Premiership is the richest football league on the planet with leading clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal enjoying a following among millions of fans around the world with more than 200 countries showing Premiership matches.
Premiership players’ salaries rose by 9 percent to 854 million pounds in the 2005/06 season according to the latest data available, the report said.
“Whilst the players will be the main financial beneficiaries from the new TV deals, English clubs will continue to invest in their stadia and youth facilities, which is a vital element of a successful business strategy,” said Alan Switzer, a director at Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
The proportion of players’ wages to clubs’ revenues is expected to remain unchanged at around 62 percent next season. Extra income will be invested in new stadiums and other improvements, the report said.
Chelsea, owned by Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich, is the Premiership’s top paying club, with its squad making a combined 114 million pounds, despite posting a pre-tax loss of 80 million pounds, the report said.
Manchester United, which made the Premiership’s top operating profit of 41 million pounds, paid Wayne Rooney and the rest of its players 85 million pounds, above Arsenal’s 83 million, the report said.
Captain Steven Gerrard and other Liverpool footballers shared 69 million pounds, while Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur paid 52 and 41 million respectively, the report paid.
The growing wealth gap between the English league and its European counterparts is set to widen as more money is pumped into TV and commercial deals in the Premiership, Deloitte said.
Premiership sales are expected to rise to 2.5 billion euros (1.7 billion pounds) next season, about 1 billion euros above the next highest earning league in Italy, the report said.
The Premiership generated 1.4 billion pounds in revenue last year, ahead of Italy’s 1 billion pounds, Germany and Spain’s 800 million and the 600 million in France, the report said.
Next season, the League’s operating profit is expected to double to 260 million pounds, from this season, the report said.
Players and owners are not the only beneficiaries of the buoyant English soccer market: the tax man, European clubs and agents also get a slice of the pie.
English professional soccer clubs paid a record 647 million pounds in taxes last season, up 8 percent from the previous season and more than quadruple the amount paid ten years ago.
Overseas clubs received net transfers from English clubs of 187 million pounds, while fees to agents for transfers and other deals reached 50 million pounds, the report said.