SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/International

In Britain, nobody banks it like Beckham

The British, even more than Americans, show a special fascination for how much money famous people earn, and more than ever the public's prying eyes are seeing soccer stars.

Of the top 500 annual earners in Britain, more than 10 percent come from soccer, according to the new Sunday Times Pay List, which has become the final arbiter on the subject. The papers' researchers use both public records and private sources to come up with their figures.

No fewer than 56 people on the list, published Nov. 2, make their living from soccer: 44 players, seven managers, three executives and one chairman — plus one agent.


The top earner is David Beckham, formerly of Manchester United and now playing for Real Madrid, with earnings of $34.64 million for this year — one third more than the previous year. It is the first time Beckham has topped the sports names on the list,

replacing boxer Lennox Lewis, who dropped into third place with $15.21 million. Lewis had topped the list for three consecutive years.

No. 2, also from soccer, is a special case this time:

Ken Bates, who sold Chelsea during the summer and remains on the board, with most of his $29.58 million being the capital gain from the transaction.

Beckham, captain of England's national team, is paid $7.9 million a year by Real Madrid but makes most of his income from endorsement deals with Adidas, Vodafone, Pepsi and others.

He earns more than twice as much as the second-highest-paid player, Michael Owen of Liverpool, who makes $12.68 million and is fourth among all sports people.

No. 5 overall is David Coulthard from the McLaren Mercedes team in Formula One, charting at $10.14 million.

Motorsports performers ruled the list of top sports earners outside soccer, accounting for six of the top 10 places. They included World Rally Championships drivers Colin McRae ($8.45 million) and Richard Burns ($6.76 million), F1 driver Jenson Button of BAR Honda ($5.41 million) and F1 team boss Frank Williams ($4.39 million). Dario Franchitti, by virtue of his Scottish nationality, is also on the list ($6.76 million), even though he plies his trade across the pond in CART.

The rest of the non-soccer top 10 includes golfers Darren Clarke ($4.97 million) and Colin Montgomerie ($4.73 million) and tennis player Tim Henman ($4.39 million). Distance runner Paula Radcliffe was the top female, 11th place on the non-soccer list.

The list of soccer players includes 18 Englishmen. There are eight French players and five Dutch. Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Sweden have two each, while Spain, Argentina, Australia, Norway, and Trinidad and Tobago each have one. Manchester United has 11 players on the list, the most of any team.

The club's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is also on the list ($6.34 million), as is its former chief executive, Peter Kenyon ($6.37 million), who moved to Chelsea in September.

Jay Stuart is editorial director of SporTVision magazine and Sport TV Report newsletter.

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