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The Richest League: How the EPL dominates football finances

Increased interest from broadcasters, sponsors and investors has sent Premier League (EPL) finances spiralling out of control in recent years.

The English top flight has become a global behemoth that sits proudly at the top of the tree in terms of prestige in domestic competitions.

The gravy train looks set to continue apace for the foreseeable future, leaving other top leagues such as La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga casting envious glances towards the EPL.

With that in mind, we have undertaken an in-depth look at Premier League finances to determine which clubs are the most valuable and which owners are the richest.

We have also assessed other important elements including transfer fees, player salaries, sponsorships and television deals.

The Most Valuable Teams in the Premier League

The lucrative nature of the Premier League has resulted in English clubs dominating the list of the most valuable football teams in the world.

Manchester United are inevitably at the top of the pile on $4.6 billion, although they are behind Spanish duo Real Madrid and Barcelona in the global rankings.

TeamValuation
Manchester United$4.6bn
Liverpool$4.45bn
Manchester City$4.25bn
Chelsea$3.1bn
Tottenham Hotspur$2.35bn
Arsenal$2.05bn
Everton$940m
Leicester City$925m
West Ham United$900m
Leeds United$800m

While Man United remain the most valuable club in English football, they are not as far in front of their rivals as was previously the case.


A lack of on-field success after legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired allowed the chasing pack to close the gap.

However, with the club in line for a change in ownership and new boss Erik ten Hag improving the team’s fortunes, United will likely pull away again over the coming months.

The Red Devils still have greater global appeal than any of their Premier League rivals, while only Madrid and Barca can match them out of Europe’s elite clubs.

Although the EPL is widely viewed as a lucrative competition, none of its clubs feature among the top 10 richest teams in the world.

The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys currently lead the way, with their $8bn valuation putting them way in front of any other sports team on the planet.

Who are the Wealthiest Owners in the Premier League?

The Premier League’s success has attracted plenty of interest from overseas, leading to most top-flight clubs receiving some form of foreign investment.

Newcastle United have the wealthiest owners in the EPL following their takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium in October 2021.

TeamEstimated Net Worth of Owners
Newcastle United$620bn
Manchester City$22bn
Chelsea$15.8bn
Arsenal$12.9bn
Aston Villa$11.9bn
Liverpool$9.8bn
Fulham$7.9bn
West Ham United$7.3bn
Wolverhampton Wanderers$6.9bn
Tottenham Hotspur$5.8bn
Crystal Palace$5.5bn
Manchester United$4.7bn
Leeds United$4bn
Everton$2.9bn
Leicester City$1.7bn
Bournemouth$1.6bn
Brighton & Hove Albion$1.3bn
Southampton$1.3bn
Nottingham Forest$620m
Brentford$300m

Much like when Man City secured Qatari investment, the Magpies’ takeover has the potential to shake up the established order in the Premier League.

They have already made great strides during the 2022/23 season, and it will be intriguing to see how things unfold over the coming years.

Of the so-called ‘Big Six’ teams, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are perhaps the most under threat and need new investment.

Man United are in the same boat to a degree, although their greater global reputation gives them more breathing space than the aforementioned clubs.

Brentford’s ascension into the top flight is perhaps the most noteworthy element of the wealthiest owners list, given their position in the rankings.

The Bees’ ‘Moneyball’ player recruitment methodology has paid huge dividends to prove you don’t necessarily need billionaire owners to survive in the top flight.

Premier League Sponsorship & Broadcast Deals

The Premier League has numerous official partners including Barclays, Budweiser, Hublot, Castrol, Nike, EA Sports and Oracle.

However, broadcast deals with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and other outlets generate the largest amount of revenue for the English top flight.

Domestic and overseas television rights are collectively worth more than $10bn, making the Premier League the richest football competition on the planet.

Individual clubs receive millions in prize money each year, while the sponsorships detailed below keep the cash tills ringing.

TeamMain Sponsor
ArsenalEmirates
Aston VillaCazoo
BournemouthDafabet
BrentfordHollywoodbets
Brighton & Hove AlbionAmerican Express
ChelseaThree
Crystal PalaceCinch
EvertonStake.com
FulhamW88
Leeds UnitedSBOTOP
Leicester CityFBS
LiverpoolStandard Chartered
Manchester CityEtihad Airways
Manchester UnitedTeamViewer
Newcastle UnitedFun88
Nottingham Forest
SouthamptonSportsbet.io
Tottenham HotspurAIA
West Ham UnitedBetway
Wolverhampton WanderersAstroPay

The Top Transfer Fees in the Premier League

Now we’ve established where the money comes from in the Premier League, it is time to assess how the clubs use that cash in their pursuit of glory.

English clubs are not afraid to splash the cash on new signings, although the highest fee paid only makes it to sixth place on the list of all-time most expensive transfers.

Enzo Fernandez’s big-money move from Benfica to Chelsea tops the EPL list, which is dominated by purchases made by the two Manchester clubs.

PlayerFromToFee
Enzo FernandezBenficaChelsea€121m
Jack GrealishAston VillaManchester City€117.5m
Romelu LukakuInter MilanChelsea€113m
Paul PogbaJuventusManchester United€105m
AntonyAjaxManchester United€95m
Harry MaguireLeicester CityManchester United€87m
Jadon SanchoBorussia DortmundManchester United€85m
Romelu LukakuEvertonManchester United€84.7m
Virgil van DijkSouthamptonLiverpool€84.65m
Wesley FofanaLeicester CityChelsea€80.4m

The massive financial outlay on the players featured in the list has not proved to be successful in the majority of cases.

Fernandez has looked promising for Chelsea in his first few games, but it is too early to judge whether he will be a hit or a miss.

Only Van Dijk can be described as a good buy out of the other nine players, with the rest failing to deliver the goods in varying degrees.

The Highest-Paid Players in the Premier League

With Cristiano Ronaldo heading to Saudi Arabia to take the riches on offer there, Kevin De Bruyne is now the highest-paid player in the Premier League.

Manchester is the place to be for big money, with seven players in the top 10 earners plying their trade with either City or United.

PlayerTeamTotal Annual Earnings
Kevin De BruyneManchester City$25.7m
David de GeaManchester United$24.1m
Erling Braut HaalandManchester City$24.1m
Mohamed SalahLiverpool$22.5m
Jadon SanchoManchester United$22.5m
Raphael VaraneManchester United$21.8m
Raheem SterlingChelsea$20.9m
CasemiroManchester United$19.3m
Jack GrealishManchester City$19.3m
Kalidou KoulibalyChelsea$18.9m

An interesting feature of the players pulling in the most money in the Premier League is how many of them have been worth the outlay.

De Bruyne, De Gea, Haaland, Salah, Varane and Casemiro fall into that category, but question marks hang over the other four.

Sancho has struggled to make his mark with United, although he appears to have benefited from being given a break away from football by Ten Hag.

Sterling was successful during his time with Man City but has failed to have the same impact since joining Chelsea last summer.

Grealish hasn’t quite lived up to expectations with City, while Chelsea’s Koulibaly is yet to reproduce the form he showed for Napoli in Serie A.

Which Teams Have Won the Premier League?

While every top flight club is a business, their ultimate goal is to get their hands on the Premier League title.

Just seven teams have achieved that feat since the competition was launched in 1992, with Manchester United being the most successful by some distance.

TeamNumber of Premier League Titles
Manchester United13
Manchester City6
Chelsea5
Arsenal3
Blackburn Rovers1
Leicester City1
Liverpool1

The Red Devils were the dominant force in the Premier League, but Chelsea and Manchester City’s new-found wealth helped them muscle in on the action.

Of the clubs with the wealthiest owners, Liverpool are the biggest underachievers, having won just one EPL title since the competition’s inception.

That puts them level with Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City – neither of who are classed as being one of the top clubs in English football.

Sources

Forbes | Sports Illustrated | Premier League | Transfermkt | Capology | Sports Today

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