Annual Review of Football Finance Reveals Disturbing News

I wrote in an earlier article (PSSST, here’s PS60m to your soccer team ), which I posted on my blog. I mentioned that the Beautiful Game is becoming something only those with a lot of money can afford. A growing number of Premiership clubs are being bought out by foreign owners: Manchester United is being owned by Americans; Liverpool and Aston Villa by Americans; West Ham United by Icelanders; Fulham by an Egyptian who has primary interest in retail; Chelsea by a Russian who is obsessed about winning and can make far more money from his oil and mineral trades. Even the ex-Thai Prime Minster wants a piece of the action, and he is looking to take over Manchester City. Are the Premiership becoming an expensive playground? The answer is definitely yes, I fear. This is based on the most recent annual review of soccer finance by Deloitte & Touche, one of the top four auditors in the world. These financial facts were revealed in the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance released 31 May 2007.

1) The combined wages of English Premier League are expected to exceed the PS1billion mark, for the first time since 1992-93 when the competition was officially launched. For 2005-2006, the wages for all twenty teams were PS854 million, compared to just PS168 million in 2005. Isn’t it amazing to play soccer instead of working at a desk?

2) We can expect the first PS200,000 per-week EPL player to emerge in 2010. The current Premiership’s top earner is thought to be Ukrainian Andriy Shchenko and German Michael Ballack (both Chelsea). Each is said to be earning at least PS130,000 per semaine. Even if they are experienced players, I believe that you should only get a basic wage and appropriate performance bonuses. Soccer clubs will have to raise ticket prices in order to cover operating costs. This is the best way to protect the business from bad results on the pitch. It also motivates and rewards players and management for their success.

3) Twenty clubs from the top division had a combined turnover of PS1.4 billion (2005-2006), which figure is expected to rise to PS1.8 billion for Season 2007. There are reasons to believe that most of these revenues were generated in Asia, where the new-rich are willing to pay huge sums to see their soccer heroes “live” during off-season matches 해외축구 무료중계.

4) The total debts taken on by the Premiership teams is staggering at PS2 billion, taking into account the money they spent in lower divisions to try and break into the Premiership. A new TV deal for next season of PS2.7 billion will be in effect. This is widely believed to be a catalyst for wage inflation as well as for servicing such debts. This new TV revenue, which includes domestic and international rights, will add approximately PS300 million per season for the next three years. It is going to be a vicious circle: Teams will get loans to enter the top division, and then they can earn more TV money which is used to pay off debts. They will have to borrow again, despite a decrease in revenue.

I am certain that the spiraling costs of the soccer scene will soon get out of control. The ones most affected by the financial collapse will be the soccer fans. They are already being pressured by the clubs to pay higher ticket prices, more expensive jersey replicas and program sheets. Even those who can’t afford to travel to the stadiums, they will have to pay more for pay per view TV. I also see foreign ownership of top-tier clubs. These foreigners, while they are often super-rich and can provide immediate cash inflows to the soccer community, may not be the best for the soccer fraternity. They are likely businessmen by nature. Is it possible to guarantee that these clubs don’t just exist as cash cows and the fans aren’t being taken for a ride? I can see that foreign owners have enjoyed significant sporting success as well as financial gains. It is time that the British government, or even FIFA’s highest governing body, should regulate such transactions to prevent further problems.

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