Football: Footballers in the big league of earners

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The Independent Online
Football's increased profile and lucrative contracts have put many of its leading players on to British sport's earnings leaderboard.

According to the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Yearbook 1998, published next month, 14 footballers take home more than pounds 1m a year with Alan Shearer earning pounds 3.5m.

Ryan Giggs and Paul Ince, the next best football earners, fail to match Shearer between them, while David Beckham could eclipse them all, having earned pounds 1.35m in his second year as a Manchester United regular.

"We estimate that the average Premiership footballer earns around pounds 350,000 a year - and that's before sponsorship deals are added on top," Pete Nichols, the Yearbook editor, said.

But football still lags behind sports such as boxing and motor racing, which provide five of the top seven. The biggest British earner was world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

Britain's 1997 sporting millionaires

1 Lennox Lewis (Boxing) pounds 6.4m

2 Naseem Hamed (Boxing) pounds 5.8m

3 Damon Hill (Motor Racing) pounds 5.3m

4 Alan Shearer (Football) pounds 3.5m

5 Nick Faldo (Golf) pounds 3.4m

6 Johnny Herbert (Motor Racing) pounds 2.5m

7 David Coulthard (Motor Racing) pounds 2.0m

8 Colin Montgomerie (Golf) pounds 1.85m

9= Ryan Giggs (Football) pounds 1.65m

Paul Ince (Football) pounds 1.65m

11= Les Ferdinand (Football) pounds 1.6m

11 Greg Rusedski (Tennis) pounds 1.6m

13= Teddy Sheringham (Football) pounds 1.4m

Colin McRae (Rallying) pounds 1.4m

Stephen Hendry (Snooker) pounds 1.4m

Tim Henman (Tennis) pounds 1.4m

17 David Beckham (Football) pounds 1.35m

18 Stan Collymore (Football) pounds 1.3m

19= Henry Akinwande (Boxing) pounds 1.25m

Eddie Irvine (Motor Racing) pounds 1.25m

21= John Barnes (Football) pounds 1.2m

Robbie Fowler (Football) pounds 1.2m

23 Ian Wright (Football) pounds 1.15m

24= Paul Gascoigne (Football) pounds 1.1m

Paul Merson (Football) pounds 1.1m

26= Mark Blundell (Motor Racing) pounds 1.0m

Andy Cole (Football pounds 1.0m

Graeme Le Saux (Football) pounds 1.0m

Lee Westwood (Golf) pounds 1.0m

Ian Woosnam (Golf) pounds 1.0m