Premiership football wages soar by 28 per cent

Wages
at Premiership football clubs soared by an astonishing 28 per cent last season,
despite many teams teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

An
investigation by London newspaper the Evening Standard, revealed that
top-earning players such as Liverpool striker Michael Owen and Manchester
United and England star David Beckham took the total wage bill for the 20
top-flight clubs to a staggering £720m – far outstripping any increases in
income.

The
20 teams paid their players a total of £60m a month – 75 per cent of their
income.

Manchester
United alone paid its players a staggering total of £70m last year – an
increase of 40 per cent on the 2000/2001 season – but failed to win a single
trophy.

Arsenal
plunged into the red by £22m despite winning the Premiership, mainly because
its salaries bill for stars including Sol Campbell and Thierry Henry soared by
50 per cent to £61m.

Players
such as top earner Beckham, on a believed £90,000-a-week deal, saw wage rises
far in excess of the 16 per cent growth in income clubs reported, plunging many
teams into massive debts.

Leeds
United was so badly affected by its £33m debts that it launched a ‘fire sale’
of big-name players such as England defender Jonathan Woodgate to Newcastle and
striker Robbie Fowler to Manchester City simply to stop having to pay them.

The
club’s chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has endured the anger of fans for selling the
players, but today’s figures show the team paid a total of £53m in wages last
season – with nothing to show for the cash.

The
bill for wages, on top of the millions spent on transfers, meant the club’s
losses were £33m on an income which fell by five per cent thanks to the team’s
failure to progress in Europe.

Even
Manchester United’s profit for the last season of £32m – the biggest in the
Premiership – was composed mainly of cash from the sale of big names including
Dutch defender Jaap Stam, which was immediately spent on buying England
defender Rio Ferdinand for £33m after the close of the financial year.

By Paul Nelson

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