Rise of the super-rich trio

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The Independent Football

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United each earned more than £53m from television and prize money last season - at least £20m more than any of their rivals in the Premiership, heralding the rise of a new breed of super-rich club.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United each earned more than £53m from television and prize money last season - at least £20m more than any of their rivals in the Premiership, heralding the rise of a new breed of super-rich club.

Arsenal and Manchester United both earned over £56m while Chelsea brought in £53m - compared to Liverpool and Newcastle whose income was around £32m. Success in the Premiership and the number of times their matches were screened live accounted for the difference, but the main reason is the fact that all three sides played in the Champions' League. The Gunners, United and Chelsea are in Europe's élite club competition again next season and the potential income hammers home to United and Liverpool how disastrous it would be if they fail to get through the qualifying rounds.

Henk Potts, a football finance expert with Barclays Stockbrokers, said: "These figures illustrate starkly that the gulf between the teams that play in the Champions' League and those that don't is absolutely huge. We are seeing the appearance of super-rich clubs - Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea at the moment. Beneath that is a strata of mid-ranking clubs who appear forever doomed to remain at that status."

Potts emphasised that United's total income would overtake Arsenal's due to matchday takings and that the Gunners need to move to their new stadium before they can match their rivals.

Although the difference in TV and prize money income between Arsenal (£56.6m) and bottom club Wolverhampton Wanderers (£16.6m) is huge, even the worst side in the Premiership earns vast sums compared to the First Division. There, all sides receive a £700,000 central payment from the Football League from TV and sponsorship income, plus £60,000 for a live home televised game (£10,000 televised away game).

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