Fast forward to 2015-16 and the Premier League has announced that Arsenal became the first club to break the £100 million barrier last year, earning £100,952,257 just from TV and finishing second in the league.
Manchester City were the second-highest earners, making £96,971,603, followed by Manchester United (£96.5m) and Tottenham (£95.2m), with Leicester in fifth place on £93.2m. The lowest earning club, Aston Villa, earned £66.6m, the biggest sum ever for a bottom-placed club.
The money comes primarily from the Premier League’s huge TV deals but also includes a share of the league’s central commercial income for each club.
Arsenal’s money was made up of £23,605,000 ‘merit’ cash for finishing second in the table, £21,496,762 in ‘facility fees’ for being in so many live TV games, plus equal shares of the domestic TV deal, overseas TV deals and commercial income from the league’s sponsors, such as Barclays.
Every club then receives £1,242,405 per finishing place in the table, from that sum for bottom-placed Aston Villa to £24,848,100 to winners Leicester.
Each club also gets a variable amount depending on how many times they were shown live on Sky or BT. Every club got a minimum of £8,782,088 from this pot, even if they were shown as rarely as Watford and Bournemouth (just eight live televised games each), or Norwich City and Stoke City (nine times each).
For 2015-16 every club gets an ‘equal’ share of £55,849,800 derived from domestic TV income, overseas income and commercial income combined.
The prize cash will get bigger in future. The domestic deals will rise from £3.018bn to £5.136bn in the three-year period from 2016-17, and the foreign deals will climb from £2.23bn to £3bn-plus.
The Premier League will be awash in money over the next five years due to these massive new TV deals. One effect of the TV money is that missing out on Champions League football will not result in as big a financial hit as in previous years.
The Premier League is without a doubt the richest league in the world, with the most equitable sharing of the wealth amongst any of the top leagues in Europe. But the Premier League is not the best league in terms of European performance, nor does it have the best players in the world playing in it.
Will that change over the next 5 years, when even the bottom clubs in the Premier League will be making more than a handful of the biggest clubs in Europe?