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The London Guardian's annual review of Premier League clubs' annual accounts showed that EPL clubs "paid their players and other staff a record" £1.8B in '12-13, up 11% on the previous year. Players earning multi-million pound salaries "were again football's clear financial winners," in a year when the clubs made a record £2.7B combined income, yet nevertheless made a loss overall, of £291M. Twelve of the 20 clubs made a loss in '12-13, with five clubs losing £50M or more: Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Queens Park Rangers. The proportion of the income clubs spent on wages in '12-13 "was the same" as in '11-12, 67%, above the 50-60% threshold commonly recommended as sensible. Because clubs earned more money overall, principally from increased sponsorship secured by the top clubs, that meant "the total wage bill rose." Clubs "do not differentiate in their accounts between wages paid to players and to other staff, but the overwhelming majority unquestionably goes in galactic earnings of players." Other staff "have historically not been well paid at clubs, where there has been a culture of expecting people to consider it a privilege to work in football." The "clear exception" to that culture of low pay, besides the players and managers, "is in the boardroom, where senior executives are lavishly paid in the Premier League." The highest paid director in '12-13 was Southampton Exec Chair Nicola Cortese, who earned £2.1M. Next highest paid was Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, who earned £1.8M. A majority of Premier League clubs "still rely on money from owners," whether paid in return for shares, like the vast £1B invested in Man City over just five years by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, or loaned, as at Liverpool, Newcastle United, West Ham United and others. Football's largest bank debt was owed by ManU (GUARDIAN, 5/1). In a separate piece, David Conn reported QPR "had a higher wage bill last season" than Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid. QPR's financial accounts for '12-13 "confirm the impression at Loftus Road that the club overspent" for Manager Mark Hughes and his replacement, Harry Redknapp, "in a vain effort to avoid relegation," producing a wage bill of £78M, 128% of the club's entire turnover. Atlético's wage bill has been reported in the Spanish media to be just €66M this year -- 30% less than QPR's, for a team mostly without acknowledged stars, whose "stellar progress has been widely attributed to inspirational management by Diego Simeone" (GUARDIAN, 5/1). For the Guardian's club-by-club wage breakdown, click here.
Sky "added more than 70,000 TV customers in the three months to the end of March" -- its highest rate in five years -- but saw growth in customers signing up for broadband "drop by more than a third," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Sky said that a focus on marketing its TV products "had paid off" with 74,000 new subscribers in the period taking the total TV base to 10.6 million. The company "blamed the focus on pushing TV for a slowdown in the rate of sign-ups to its broadband service, with 70,000 new subscribers in the three-month period." Sky's pre-tax profits for the nine months to the end of March were £793M, down 17% year on year. Profits were also hit by the £70M investment announced to drive its connected set-top box strategy, and a one-off increase in Premier League TV rights costs (GUARDIAN, 5/1). ALLIANCE NEWS reported Sky said that its Sky Sports business average audience for the EPL "was up 7% from the previous year," and it noted that 49 of the 50 most watched matches "were aired on Sky Sports." It recorded a peak of 397,000 Sky Go viewers for a February match between Man City and Chelsea (ALLIANCE NEWS, 5/1). In London, Henry Mance reported Sky "also recorded its lowest number of new broadband customers in a quarter since 2006, amid poor weather and increased competition from BT." Sky’s shares have risen about 4% so far this year, "while BT’s have slipped slightly." In a note to clients, UBS analyst Polo Tang said, “While concerns about the [next Premier League football rights] auction will overhang [Sky’s] shares, we think [BT and Sky] are ultimately rational and will agree a wholesale deal on sports” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/1).
Spanish second division side Tenerife's shareholders on Wednesday "approved using the team's stadium for free as a club asset and the decrease of the club's capital to achieve asset balance and meet the economic requisites" of Spain's Superior Sports Council (CSD), according to the EFE. Tenerife President Miguel Concepción "moved the initiative forward during an 'important assembly,'" where 48.6% of the club's shares were represented, which was Tenerife's greatest member participation in a meeting in the last decade. Concepción "also highlighted that Tenerife has been able to continue reducing the debt and assured that the club is not at risk of disappearing." Tenerife "will include in its accounts the free use of the Heliodoro Rodríguez López Stadium, which is the property of the Tenerife town hall, as a heritage asset." Transferring "the stadium is valued" at €22.5M ($31.5M) (EFE, 4/30).