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Premier League Spending In Last 10 Years: An Overview

Premier League Spending In Last 10 Years: An Overview

The Premier League is the most successful domestic football league on the planet. Broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers dotted around almost every country on earth, it not only attracts massive crowds at home but also continues to appeal to a growing global TV market. In December 2023, it was announced that the Premier League had signed a new £6.7 billion deal with Sky Sports for the broadcast rights to the league, with the new contract (coming in from 2025/26) set to see a record number of games shown on TV each week.

This modern development has helped accelerate the amount of wealth at the top of the English game; while in the past English sides sometimes lagged behind their European rivals, these days the Premier League is producing the most competitive teams in Europe and regularly tempting the best players from overseas over to British shores.

Premier League spending has increased in line with these shifts; while the most recent transfer window (January 2024) didn't see too much spending from English clubs, over the past few seasons there has been a consistent pattern of the country's elite teams splashing out staggering sums to acquire players and pay their sky-high wages. In this article, we'll be diving into this trend, explaining how the Premier League became the richest league in the world and charting how clubs have spent their money in the last decade.

A Brief History of the Premier League

Younger fans of English football may think that the Premier League has always been there, but this is far from the case. The English football pyramid used to look very different; while these days the English Football League (EFL) is made up of the Championship (the second tier), League One (the third tier) and League Two (the fourth tier), it used to include England and Wales' highest division, which between its formation in 1888 and its final season in 1991/92, was titled the First Division.

In 1992, England's top league decided to break away from the traditional league structure and form their own re-branded division. The new format was designed "to prevent the top clubs from losing income to the lower leagues", with the biggest factor behind the change being TV money. Previously, all money earned from TV broadcasts was divided across the EFL, but the clubs in the top division wanted to be able to sell their own exclusive broadcast rights and split that money only between the teams in the top flight, thereby raking in a greater share of the cash. ITV's exclusive right to broadcast live matches came to an end in 1992, and led by the "Big Five" (Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur), the league's clubs proposed the creation of a new division, which the FA were persuaded to get behind.

A lucrative deal was signed with Sky Sports, and ever since the first Sky-backed Premier League season in 1992/93, fans have had to pay a subscription to watch live top flight matches. The money brought into the league from its broadcasting deals has allowed it to grow incrementally, becoming the most-watched division in the world, with the very richest clubs. 

While many of the league's clubs were owned by successful local businesspeople in the early 1990s, as the top flight has grown in stature, EPL club ownership has become the preserve of the uber-wealthy (aside from a few notable exceptions). Soon, we'll explore how spending has increased in the Premier League over the last decade, but before we do that, it's worth providing a little context about the people in charge of funding and running those clubs.

A Quick Introduction To The Owners Of Premier League Clubs

You need a huge amount of money to be able to buy a Premier League football club these days. In order to acquire just a 25% stake in Manchester United earlier this season, British business tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe had to pay $1.3 billion. According to reports, Todd Boehly's takeover of Chelsea in 2022 cost him a whopping £4.25  billion. Buying into these clubs certainly does not come cheap, and there are some extremely rich and powerful people operating behind the scenes in the Premier League.

There's no doubt about who the two richest clubs in the Premier League are. Manchester City's fortunes were changed forever in 2008, when the Abu Dhabi United Group led by Sheikh Mansour bought the club and fuelled their upward charge with the injection of billions of pounds.

Mansour is reportedly worth $17 billion, and City are reaping the rewards of that wealth. We can expect a similar thing to happen on Tyneside in the next few years following the takeover of Saudi Arabia's Public Investmend Fund, a massive sovereign wealth fund designed to make investments on behalf of the Saudi state. These two clubs have the division's wealthiest owners by far.

Elsewhere across the league's landscape of owners are hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, and manufacturing giants, with a number of the clubs in the English top flights controlled by billionaires. As you'd expect, this has led to a lot of money being splashed in the transfer market in recent seasons…

Premier League Spending: Last 10 Years

Fans were recently given a valuable glimpse into the financial records of the most successful clubs in the country, after figures were published regarding the spending of the Premier League's so-called 'Big Six'.

In March, the Mirror reported that data from Transfermarkt had revealed Manchester United were the league's biggest net spenders between 2013/14 and 2023/24. In total, the Red Devils spent £1.53 billion and brought in £398.4 million worth of income, leaving them with a total net spend of £1.13 billion.

Chelsea managed to surpass United in terms of expenditure, with a staggering £2.03 billion spent in this period; however, the club managed to haul in £1.18 billion in income, leaving their net spend at £849 million. Crucially, the Blues also achieved more success than United and many other Prem rivals in this decade, securing eight trophies in this period (which works out as £108m per trophy).

Meanwhile, Manchester City spent £1.53bn on players but brought in £620m (£918m net), and Arsenal had a net spend of £851.7m, while Liverpool secured the lowest net spend per trophy of all the 'Big Six' clubs, winning 7 trophies in that ten-year period with a net spend of £386.5m (£55.2m per trophy).

Of the 34 clubs to have played in the top flight since 2013/14, only QPR, Norwich and Swansea have made net profits in the transfer market during this period, a pretty remarkable stat. These clubs have all enjoyed time at the top table of English football in recent years, but currently they all play in the Championship and have failed to establish themselves in the EPL for any considerable length of time.

Premier League Total Spending

In 2008, the record transfer fee spent by a British club was £32.5m, paid for Robinho by Manchester City in 2008. Now, it stands at £106.7m, the fee Chelsea paid Benfica for Enzo Fernandez last year. Premier League clubs have more financial might and cultural sway than most of their European counterparts, and they're making the most of it.

Stats released by Transfermarkt detail the expenditure of each current Premier League club over the past decade. Most fans won't be surprised to learn that Chelsea are at the top of the list when it comes to total cash outlay, followed by Manchester City (the two clubs have spent a total of €2.46bn and €1.94bn respectively). Chelsea also top the list in terms of the pure number of players they've brought in, a remarkable 343 in 10 years. There has been far less churn at clubs such as Spurs and Arsenal, with those clubs registering 171 and 178 new arrivals respectively.

During the last 10 years, 34 clubs have competed in the English top flight, and unsurprisingly the biggest spenders are the clubs who have been mainstays at the top during that period.

The total expenditure of the 20 teams currently playing in the Premier League is a colossal €17.6 billion, which equates to roughly $18.87 billion or just over £15 billion. The current 'Big Six' Premier League clubs were responsible for well over half of that spending, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs spending a combined €10.1 billion in the past decade.

According to ESPN, the amount spent by Premier League clubs in January 2024 (the most recent window) was £715m lower than the amount spent in the 2023 January window, when clubs such as Chelsea splashed huge cash on signings in a bid to bolster their squads ahead of changes to transfer laws that summer. In January 2021, when clubs were dealing with the financial uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, spending was even lower, but aside from this trend EPL spending had been growing at a fairly steady rate over the last decade, with 2012 being the only year where clubs had spent less on new players in the 2024 window. 

We can link the reduction in spending in 2024 to the increased impact of the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Reglations on clubs. This set of rules, first introduced in 2013, demands that each top flight club in England files accounts for the current season and the previous two seasons every spring. These accounts are used to judge whether a club has made excessive losses during a given period, and during the 2023/24 campaign there have been some serious ramifications for clubs that have failed to comply with PSR. 

Nottingham Forest are currently battling against accusations that they have failed to bide by the laws of the league, while Chelsea and Manchester City are also undergoing complex investigations of their own. Most notably, Everton have been charged twice for rule breaks and have been docked a total of eight points, plunging them into a relegation battle as a result of financial wrongdoing off the pitch. If you'd like to find out more about the charges being faced by the Toffees, check out our in-depth guide to the Everton financial fair play situation.

 

Premier League Spending Last 10 Years By Club

No. Club Income Expenditure Balance
1 Chelsea FC €1.40bn €2.46bn €-1,055.70m
2 Manchester City €810.10m €1.94bn €-1,125.72m
3 Manchester United €486.24m €1.80bn €-1,316.52m
4 Arsenal FC €420.20m €1.38bn €-956.07m
5 Liverpool FC €769.67m €1.27bn €-497.86m
6 Tottenham Hotspur €703.12m €1.25bn €-550.31m
7 West Ham United €441.47m €933.11m €-491.64m
8 Newcastle United €322.89m €907.43m €-584.54m
9 Everton FC €599.46m €862.73m €-263.28m
10 Aston Villa €373.22m €809.53m €-436.32m
11 Southampton FC €696.92m €723.96m €-27.04m
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers €422.79m €701.50m €-278.71m
13 Leicester City €556.27m €688.21m €-131.93m
14 Brighton & Hove Albion €474.13m €540.68m €-66.55m
15 AFC Bournemouth €204.82m €509.22m €-304.40m
16 Crystal Palace €142.65m €492.03m €-349.38m
17 Fulham FC €188.70m €454.54m €-265.84m
18 Leeds United €229.45m €447.44m €-217.99m
19 Nottingham Forest €191.00m €414.43m €-223.43m
20 Watford FC €364.91m €388.62m €-23.71m
21 Burnley FC €221.16m €381.81m €-160.65m
22 West Bromwich Albion €157.99m €263.69m €-105.70m
23 Stoke City €137.84m €261.45m €-123.61m
24 Norwich City €269.66m €252.28m €17.38m
25 Swansea City €351.58m €248.64m €102.94m
26 Brentford FC €204.95m €241.24m €-36.30m
27 Sheffield United €82.74m €224.01m €-141.27m
28 Middlesbrough FC €198.59m €217.40m €-18.81m
29 Sunderland AFC €136.18m €189.17m €-52.98m
30 Hull City €176.33m €181.65m €-5.31m
31 Cardiff City €79.12m €158.56m €-79.44m
32 Huddersfield Town €113.94m €137.51m €-23.57m
33 Queens Park Rangers €104.77m €95.36m €9.41m
34 Luton Town €15.28m €30.56m €-15.29m