England top profit league

 

The latest report into the state of the game of football internationally by financial consultants Deloitte and Touche shows England in the healthiest position of all the major European nations.

With operating profits for the Premier League jumping 51 per cent to £81 million (€121 million), the English game has soared clear of the German Bundesliga, the only other "big five" country to show a profit.

Even the beleaguered Football League, currently beset by problems over its television contract with ITV Digital, has an overall income in excess of any top league outside Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

"If the World Cup was decided on finances England would be bringing it home right now," said Gerry Boon, head of Deloitte and Touche sport.

"The vast majority of our top clubs are profitable and all the other European countries look up to us.

"There has been a lot of talk about how much the next Premier League television contract will be worth, but I don't believe it will go down.

"The year we are looking at didn't include the huge television contracts which were negotiated in 2001 and there are also encouraging signs that clubs are starting to get a grip on the amounts of money they are spending on wages."

The worldwide appetite for the Premier League is almost insatiable.

"We have hardly scratched the surface of overseas income," said Boon. "And it is not just the big clubs. Those such as Charlton could also exploit their position, if not as a stand-alone brand name, but in partnership with others."

Once again, Manchester United are leading the way, recording the highest profit, the highest turnover and spending the lowest percentage of their income on wages.

But a threat to their crown could be emerging at Liverpool, whose triple cup triumph in 2000-01 saw them rise from 78th to second in the profit/loss chart.

"The problem for Liverpool was that when they were successful in the 1970s and 1980s there was no money in the game. They were in the right place at the wrong time, unlike Manchester United," said Boon.

"Liverpool can continue to grow their income and Arsenal and Chelsea also have the same capability."

At the other end of the scale, 16 clubs spent more on wages than they received in income. Fulham were the biggest culprits: owner Mohamed al Fayed lashed out a spectacular 195 per cent of his supposed income funding the club's rise to the Premier League.

The average wage bill across the Premiership reached £28.1 million, a rise of 17 per cent.