Here’s a newsflash for you: the Premier League is absolutely dripping with cash. Even in ‘these unprecedented times’, the 20 top-flight clubs spent a combined total of roughly £1.2 billion during the transfer window of summer 2020. The question is, where does all the money come from?
Well, we all know what global commercial juggernaut England’s top tier is for starters. The most-watched football league in the world, it rakes in an estimated audience of 4.7 billion (on a planet of about 7.5 billion, for context). Coronavirus may put paid to hopes of another increase this year, but revenue for the 2018-19 Premier League totalled at a staggering £5.15 billion.
So there’s the eye-watering TV money heading clubs’ way, there’s their own profits from aspects like merchandise and ticket sales, and there’s prize money. Which perhaps is too kind a term.
You get lots of money if you win the Premier League, but you still got a lot (although admittedly not as much) of money if you finish bottom of the pile. Not to mention the three-year parachute payments to support relegated clubs, it’s essentially possible to be handsomely remunerated for failure nowadays.
But what is the prize money for each Premier League position? How much do you earn these days for winning the title? And how do today’s figures compare to years gone by? Let’s take a look:
How Much Money If You Win the Premier League?
Things changed slightly in 2019-20, and not just because of a three-month suspension in play due to a global health crisis, or because Liverpool finally won the league, or because VAR came in and really messed up everything.
Each of the 20 clubs were given an equal share of the domestic TV deal, which amounted to approximately £31.8 million. On top of that, they were all awarded an extra facility fee based on how many of their games were broadcast. There was also a £5 million slice from commercial revenue, and £43.2 million apiece from TV rights abroad.
Where there is not parity between clubs, is an extra share of income from overseas TV rights – for this, the money each club was awarded increased by final league position. This is known as a ‘merit payment’.
For winning the 2019-20 Premier League, Liverpool received a merit payment of £35.5 million – almost £3 million less than Manchester City pocketed for the same prize the previous year. But compared to today, Manchester United’s merit payment for winning the inaugural Premier League season in 1992-93 was a paltry £815,210.
To summarise, then, Premier League clubs’ prize money comes from:
- Equal Share – half of all finance equally shared between the 20 clubs.
- Facility Fees – one-quarter shared based on number of each clubs’ live matches on UK television.
- Merit Payments – one-quarter shared based on each clubs’ final position in the league table.
- Overseas TV Income – equally shared.
- Commercial Revenue – equally shared.
Here are the merit payments for every champion since 2007-08:
|Season||Champion||Merit Payment||Change From Previous Season|
Of course, the Premier League title winner earns far more than just their merit payment. In 2019-20, for instance, Liverpool’s entire earnings were roughly:
Equal Share – £31.8 million
Facility Fees – £31 million
Merit Payment – £35.5 million
Overseas TV Income – £71.3 million
Commercial Revenue – £5 million
Total Prize Money = £174.6 million
Premier League Prize Money By Position
First, let’s take a look at the merit payments for each position in the 2019-20 Premier League, and see how it compared to the previous season:
|Position||2019-20 Merit Payment||2018-19 Merit Payment|
|1st||£35.5 million (Liverpool)||£38.3 million (Man City)|
|2nd||£33.8 million (Man City)||£36.5 million (Liverpool)|
|3rd||£32.0 million (Man Utd)||£34.5 million (Chelsea)|
|4th||£30.2 million (Chelsea)||£32.6 million (Tottenham)|
|5th||£28.4 million (Leicester)||£30.7 million (Arsenal)|
|6th||£26.6 million (Tottenham)||£28.8 million (Man Utd)|
|7th||£24.9 million (Wolves)||£26.9 million (Wolves)|
|8th||£23.1 million (Arsenal)||£24.9 million (Everton)|
|9th||£21.3 million (Sheff Utd)||£23.0 million (Leicester)|
|10th||£19.5 million (Burnley)||£21.1 million (West Ham)|
|11th||£17.8 million (Southampton)||£19.2 million (Watford)|
|12th||£16.0 million (Everton)||£17.3 million (Crystal Palace)|
|13th||£14.2 million (Newcastle)||£15.3 million (Newcastle)|
|14th||£12.4 million (Crystal Palace)||£13.4 million (Bournemouth)|
|15th||£10.7 million (Brighton)||£11.5 million (Burnley)|
|16th||£8.9 million (West Ham)||£9.6 million (Southampton)|
|17th||£7.1 million (Aston Villa)||£7.7 million (Brighton)|
|18th||£5.3 million (Bournemouth)||£5.8 million (Cardiff)|
|19th||£3.6 million (Watford)||£3.8 million (Fulham)|
|20th||£1.8 million (Norwich)||£1.9 million (Huddersfield)|
Below, per football business blog Swiss Ramble, you can find a rough breakdown of how much each of the 20 Premier League teams earned altogether in 2019-20:
Essentially, then, while merit payments still represent a sizeable, minimum-seven-figure sum no matter where you finish, they still only make up a pretty small piece of the pie.
It remains to be seen the long-term impact that coronavirus has on these figures but even if, as predicted, they do fall as a consequence, don’t expect Premier League clubs to be on their knees begging for spare change any time soon.