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Opinion

Premier League clubs prize money payouts – Time to revisit distribution

4 weeks ago
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Last week on The Mag, the article “Premier League clubs 2021/2022 prize money payouts” (see here) was a fascinating read.

It reported on football finance expert Kieran Maguire’s final estimates of the Premier League’s (PL) TV income and its distribution to clubs.

The article will have been especially revealing for some, which includes me, who were not completely aware of the scale of TV money paid to clubs in return for UK and overseas PL games’ screening.

The ‘merit’ (depending on your place in the final Premier League table) payments shot off the page at £367.1m for UK and £139.3m international viewing; a combined total of £506.4m for this season just ended.

It seems odd that the Premier League choose to use merit money to make the rich clubs richer, leaving the clubs at the bottom of the table, relatively speaking, stretched for revenue. As the Kieran Maguire estimated stats show in the table below, the top six combined received 50% (£253.3m) of the £506.4m, which will assist them to stay in the top six. In contrast, the bottom six clubs received between them a total of just 10.0%, some £50.6m.

Premier League Club 2021-2022 Prize Money

As column 1 of my table below shows, the very rich Manchester City were given £48.3m (£35m UK + £13.3m international) and the relegated Norwich received a twentieth of that amount at £2.4m (£1.7m UK + £0.7m international viewing). Obviously, the PL’s governing body does not have a levelling-up agenda.

Manchester City players are certainly better in all positions than those of Norwich but do they put in twenty times more commitment and merit twenty times more cash? While the current approach stays in place, Norwich and others could be destined to continue their pattern of relegation, promotion and relegation. It is not that long ago, namely in the Mike Ashley era, that this cycle could have applied to Newcastle United.

Could it be better if the payments were equal for all clubs? That would mean £25.32m each. This would help the clubs at the bottom a lot; especially the three relegated ones, who under present arrangements receive £7.2m, £4.8m and £2.4m respectively. They would be better placed to hang on to their best players while playing in the Championship, but still on PL wages. £25.32m added to the parachute payments could be critical for regeneration.

A radical approach would be to turn policy on its head, as in column 2. This would give the bottom teams the most, as they tend to be the weakest financially; and the top, usually the richest, the least.

Anticipating the protests from the top clubs who have European football income, eye-watering sponsorship deals and other streams of revenue, a middle ground could be to allocate £10m to the first five, £20m to the next five, then £30m and finally £40m for the bottom five, with an extra £6.4 m for the 20th placed, as in column 3.

If the present policy of making the rich richer prevailed, as seen in column 4; even with the group of five Premier League clubs approach reversed, Burnley, Watford and Norwich would be £2.8m, £5.2m and £7.6m better off than now.

Premier League Payouts 30 May 2022

Whether any of these ideas could prompt the PL to revisit its merit payments is anyone’s guess. None of my suggestions would make a great deal of difference to the Premier League clubs in the middle of the table, including Newcastle United under Eddie Howe’s leadership.

However, if the Premier League cannot recognise the recurring plight of the clubs who are most vulnerable to the promotion/relegation merry-go-round, what sort of football nation are we?

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