The full power of the Premier League’s £8.3bn television broadcasting deal has been displayed after research showed more than half of clubs in 2016/17 would have made a pre-tax profit even if they played all of their matches in empty stadiums.
The revelations, released by the BBC, raises serious questions about why clubs in the top flight continue to charge such high ticket prices both for individual matches and season tickets.
So great are the figures that 10 clubs in the 2016-17 campaign - the first benefiting from the current broadcast deal - would have recorded pre-tax profits even with matchday incomes stripped away.
Furthermore, matchday income represented less than 20p in every £1 that 18 Premier League clubs earned during that campaign.
Dr Rob Wilson, a sport finance specialist at Sheffield Hallam University, told BBC Sport: "That is when the focus really went toward generating TV money rather than matchday ticket receipts.
"The revenue structures of those clubs are fairly well there to stay now.
"When you get a £120m payout from the Premier League for kicking a ball around, you can play in an empty stadium if you need to.
"From a revenue generation perspective, clubs do not rely anymore on matchday ticket income."
Football Supporters' Federation chair Malcolm Clarke said: "I'd say (match-going fans) are the most important element.
"Players and managers come and go, but we are always there.
"The reason that they can get lucrative TV deals is because the product shows the crowd, the noise, the away fans and the atmosphere - it is all part of it.
"On one level they don't need the fans because they have got so much money from broadcasters, but at another level they do need fans to keep an attractive product.
"How boring would it be to watch a Premier League game in an empty stadium?"
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