How Do Premier League Clubs Make Money? [ANALYSIS]

Reminiscently to every other top league in the Europe, the English Premier League has its die-hard fanbase, as well as some detractors.

But no matter which side of the fence you sit on, one must admit that it is after all the biggest franchise in the world when it comes to domestic football leagues. At least this is what all the numbers and stats suggest.

When it comes to the reasons behind the English game’s current supremacy over the continent, the answer might vary between one observer and another.

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the money, as none of it would have been possible without the vast amounts of revenues generated by the EPL, which allows the participating clubs to splash the cash needed to sign the biggest stars in the world.

So how exactly do Premier League clubs make money? What are the main sources? And which one is the most significant?

We’ll try to answer these questions as accurately as possible while mostly relying on stats registered during the 2019/20 season.

Premier League Income Streams

The Premier League clubs have three main income streams. The first is matchday income (also known as box office), the second is broadcast income (also referred to as prize money), while the third is commercial revenue.

In this study, we’ll focus exclusively on the incomes generated from the league itself. Therefore, the revenues related to European or global competitions will be ignored.

Premier League Matchday Income

Matchday income is the revenue generated by the clubs from their box office sales. Season tickets are also taken into account.

Each team hosts 19 league fixtures throughout the campaign, but of course the incomes vary between one side and another, and that is mainly down to two reasons.

First, the capacity of the stadiums vary between one club and another. For instance, the Old Trafford stadium hosts up to 76,000 fans, while Leicester City’s King Power Stadium can only welcome around 32,000 supporters.

Second, the importance of the fixture can play an important role in determining the price of the matchday ticket. When Liverpool hosts Manchester United at Anfield, the ticket price would surely exceed the entry fee required for a fixture between Burnley and Brighton.

Now let’s take a look at the matchday incomes registered by the so-called “top six” Premier League clubs during the last few years.

Note: The figures are estimated in million euros, while vast majority of the stats are based on Statista.com.

Club2014/152015/162016/172017/182018/192019/20
Arsenal132 133.6116.4111.6109.289.7
Chelsea93.193.276.283.475.662.1
Liverpool7575.980.191.694.582.7
Manchester City5770.260.463.962.447.6
Manchester United119.1140.2146.8144.4140.1111.1
Tottenham Hotspur54.254.652.785.292.7113.7
The matchday income of the the top six clubs

Premier League Broadcast Income

The broadcasting income of the Premier League is the envy of the rest of the continent. TV rights consist the most significant source of revenue for EPL clubs, allowing the top-tier English clubs to keep their debts under control.

In a previous study, we noted how the current broadcasting deals provide up to 1.6 billion pounds from British broadcasters, in addition to 1.3 billion from oversee.

While the general thought is that broadcasting money is equally divided between all twenty clubs, that’s not exactly an accurate statement.

Yes, the income generated from foreign broadcasters is in fact equally distributed among all participants, as well as 50% of local TV money.

However the other half also depends on the number of matches broadcasted on British television (known as facility fees) as well as the club’s final position in the league table (called merit payment).

So as you’ll notice from the table below, the broadcasting revenues of the top six vary between one club and another, and also differs with every new season.

Moreover, thanks to the improved deal with local broadcasters signed in the last few years, the garnered amounts improved, except for the abnormal 2019/20 campaign that was interrupted in March due the Covid-19 pandemic before restarting months later with a chaotic schedule.

Club2014/152015/162016/172017/182018/192019/20
Arsenal167.7192234.7206.9210.6136
Chelsea178.2191.1189.1230.5227.1208.2
Liverpool163.8168.1182.5251.3299.3232.5
Manchester City178215.8236.8238.8287.2217
Manchester United141.6184.7255.3268.5306.3173.4
Tottenham Hotspur125.2147.6219226.6276.7155
The broadcast income of the top six clubs

Premier League Commercial Revenue

Just like any other sport in the world, football as a business heavily relies on commercial revenues, which also include sponsorship and endorsement deals.

But unlike the broadcasting income, this source of revenue is less dependent on the results on the pitch. Now surely everyone loves to support a winning club, but the balance shifts a bit more slowly in this department.

Therefore, despite being the most dominant force in the league in the last decade, Manchester City still can’t generate the same commercial income as their historically superior crosstown rivals Manchester United, as proven by the table posted below.

However, the emergence of the Cityzens as a commercial superpower coincided with their great success on the pitch and the club’s ability to attract some of the best players in the world from 2008 and beyond.

Therefore, the firm rapport between the results on the pitch and commercial incomes remains undeniable.

Club2014/152015/162016/172017/182018/192019/20
Arsenal135.8142.9136.5120.7125.8162.3
Chelsea148.7163.1162.7191.8200.4199.4
Liverpool153159.8161.6170.8210.9243.4
Manchester City228.5238.9230.5265.7261284.7
Manchester United259352.9362.3363.1349.3321.1
Tottenham Hotspur78.177.583.9116.5151.9183
The commercial income of the top six clubs

Premier League Revenue By Club

After detailing the main sources of income that allow EPL clubs to dominate the list of the most profitable clubs in the world, it’s now time to take a look at the total amount of revenues generated by each side during the 2019/20 campaign as reported by Statista.

ClubTotal Income (US Dollars)
Manchester United651 million
Liverpool627 million
Manchester City617 million
Chelsea527 million
Tottenham Hotspur500 million
Arsenal435 million
Everton238 million
Leicester City192 million
Sheffield United184 million
Crystal Palace182 million
West Ham United180 million
Burnley173 million
Wolverhampton Wanderers170 million
Southampton162 million
Watford 154 million
Norwich City152 million
Brighton and Hove Albion147 million
Aston Villa141 million
Bournemouth122 million

How Do Premier League Clubs Make Money

As demonstrated through the numbers posted above, the revenues of Premier League clubs vary between one side and another, while the circumstances and the results on the pitch play a hand, which is why it differs with every passing season.

However, we can confidently conclude broadcasting money is the largest source of income for EPL teams, followed by commercial and sponsorship money. While matchday income remains important, it has become less significant than the two other sources in the recent years.

So to give you an overview of the source of revenues of Premier League clubs, here are the total incomes of all twenty clubs registered in the last few campaigns, while also projecting the numbers for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, as reported by Consultancy.UK.

Source of Income (millions of Pounds)2017/182018/192019/202020/21*2021/22*
Matchday670 (14%)683 (13%)659 (13%)15 (0.3%)700 (13%)
Broadcasting 2,844 (59%)3,049 (59%)2,340 (52%)3,500 (69%)3,100 (57%)
Commercial 1,305 (27%)1,418 (28%)1,563 (35%)1,600 (31%)1,650 (30%)
Total4,8195,1504,5025,1155,450

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Michel Sakr

A freelance sports writer from Beirut, Lebanon. A football fanatic and a Juventus supporter since childhood, but also keeps an eye on various sports around the globe. Currently contributes at Cultofcacio.com and Juvefc.com You can follow Michel on Twitter or Facebook.

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