Andrej Kramaric may have wanted to play in England because he has always admired the Premier League, similarly Philipp Wollscheid and Carles Gil. It is possible that foreign players enjoy the atmosphere in English grounds and the fact they are rarely pestered socially. But there may be another reason these players respectively joined Leicester City, Stoke City and Aston Villa this month, one that is underlined by today’s publication of football’s rich list.
So huge are the television deals now negotiated by the Premier League that all 20 teams feature in football’s 40 highest-earning clubs. West Ham United take more cash than Roma, Stoke City bring in more than Lazio, Sunderland outperform Porto.
This is hardly surprising when the bottom club in the top flight will pick up around £60m in broadcast revenue alone. Then there is gate money – admission prices here are among the highest in Europe – corporate income and merchandising.
All this means middling English clubs are capable of paying significantly higher wages than storied foreign ones. And that may help persuade players like Bojan Krkic, Enner Valencia and Abel Hernandez to play here, for teams that are only in domestic competitions, rather than for a foreign club with European involvement.
The likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain still generate large sums, but that is partly because in other leagues the bigger clubs have carved themselves out a much larger slice of their domestic broadcasting revenue pie, and are dominant brands in a less competitive market.
This helped Real Madrid maintain their position at the top of the annual Rich List put together by Deloitte. Real, who won the Champions League, had revenues of €549.5m (£459.5m), a 6 per cent (£25.6m) increase on the previous season. However, with revenues of £433.2m, Manchester United moved back into second place, ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, despite a miserable campaign.
Austin Houlihan of Deloitte said: “Despite a poor on-pitch season United’s commercial strategy is delivering substantial growth. Commercial revenue has grown 83 per cent in the last three years.”
Indeed, only this week United announced Irish company KamaGames as the club’s first official Social Casino Games partner, adding to agreements with companies in all parts of the world for almost every imaginable product.
United are likely to lose second place next season owing to their current absence from the Champions League, but the English domination of the top 40 will remain.
The list reveals that, as in the world economy, the richest are getting richer, with the gap from first to 20th growing steadily. There are also only two clubs in the top 20 from outside the big four western European leagues, Qatari-owned PSG (much of whose commercial revenue comes from the Gulf) and Galatasaray of Turkey.
Also notable is the steady financial decline of Italian clubs – highlighted this week when international Sebastian Giovinco left Juventus for Toronto FC of MLS. Giovinco is understood to be attracted by a deal which will pay him more than any Italian receives in Serie A. He replaces Jermain Defoe, who quit Canada for Sunderland in a deal worth a reported £80,000 a week.
That is the caveat to the Rich List’s tale of English financial muscle. Most of it goes straight through clubs to the players – “prune juice economics”, as Alan Sugar once said.
Money talks: Clubs' revenue in 2013-14
1 (1) Real Madrid 459.5
2 (4) Man United 433.2
3 (3) Bayern M 407.7
4 (2) Barcelona 405.2
5 (5) Paris S-G 396.5
6 (6) Man City 346.5
7 (7) Chelsea 324.4
8 (8) Arsenal 300.5
9 (12) Liverpool 255.8
10 (9) Juventus 233.6
11 (11) B Dortmund 218.7
12 (10) Milan 208.8
13 (14) Tottenham 180.5
14 (13) Schalke 178.9
15 (20) Atletico M 142.1
16 (-) Napoli 137.8
17 (15) Internazionale 137.1
18 (16) Galatasaray 135.4
19 (-) Newcastle 129.7
20 (-) Everton 120.5
*Last year’s position in brackets