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Volume 6 No. 212
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Study: Top Footballers Net 1,508% Pay Growth Since Premier League's Inception In '92

Top footballers' salaries in the EPL have "mushroomed," rising by 1,508% between '92-10, according to a report titled Football Mad by Dave Boyle of independent think tank HIGH PAY CENTRE. The study also revealed that players further down the football leagues "have not been as fortunate." Pay has risen by 518%, 306% and 233%, respectively, for the next three divisions. Nonetheless, average workers' wages increased by just 186% in that same time frame. The percentage of turnover spent on players has also increased, from 48% of turnover in '97, up to 70% in '11.

With pay making a bigger and bigger percentage of total spend, clubs' financial positions are becoming "increasingly precarious." In UEFA's '10 benchmarking report, the Premier League's cumulative debt was just less than £3.5B ($5.5B), 56% of the combined debt owed by 73 top flight clubs across Europe. Clubs outside the Premier League are playing "casino economics," risking everything on securing the right "talent" and hoping to "pay back what that talent costs with the proceeds of the success it secures." Since '92, over half of England's pro football clubs have been formally insolvent. Most only survived because the wider community "received less of what they were owed in order to ensure players continued to get all of what they were promised." Fans are now paying up to 1,000% more to watch their teams play, all in order to support their club's "gargantuan wage bills."

HOW WE GOT HERE: There is "an arms race in football," much as there is in exec pay. Fear over the loss of talent and the growing financial cost of relegation "create increasing pressure on clubs to throw caution to the wind and spend excessively on players" (High Pay Centre).

To read Boyle's full report, click here.