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English football retains dominance in annual rich-list

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Almost half of the clubs in Deloitte’s annual Football Money League are from the English top-flight. But with several of them currently falling foul of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules, the picture might not be as bright as it appears for the country’s leading teams.

As another football season canters by, one of the famous clichés which inevitably emerges in the second half of the season, is that ‘the table never lies’. With glory or devastation looming at either end of the league table, the number of points a club receives from its on-pitch adventures is usually an inescapable reflection of how well, or how poorly they have performed.

Whether that truism applies to Deloitte’s annual Football Money League remains to be seen, though. According to the famous study, 14 English clubs rank among the 30 highest revenue generating clubs in world football. While this is often depicted as football’s most definitive ‘rich list’ however, the fact that several of those clubs are embroiled in financial fair play disputes suggests that the record revenues on display might not tell the whole story here.

Exemplifying this, despite its notorious financial woes, Everton still just-about makes it onto the list at number 30. Deloitte’s study notes that the club’s revenues hit €198 million in the 2022/23 season. However, problems including the sanctioning of an oligarch who was a key sponsor, and the turbulent process of building a new stadium, the club has posted five straight years of losses – totalling more than £430 million in that time. The losses have seen the club stung by one point-deduction already this season, and it could be followed by another, if the Premier League finds Everton has further breached its profitability and sustainability rules.

Further up the list in 17th, Newcastle United was found to have grown its seasonal revenues to €288 million in the last campaign. However, the club still posted a loss for the period, and it is now understood to be in the process of selling off at least one of its star performers, to free up funds to spend on transfers – as the Magpies look to avoid falling foul of the same set of rules.

Chelsea sits ninth on Deloitte’s list of high-revenue clubs. According to the study, the Blues brought in €589 million in the last campaign, despite an underwhelming start to life under owner Todd Boehly. But a cloud is decidedly hanging over the club, amid allegations that previous owner Roman Abramovich may have overseen a regime which supplied incomplete financial information to authorities to get around financial fair play rules. There also remains speculation over the rampant spending of the current regime, which has gone beyond the €1 billion mark in just three transfer windows.

Most prominently, Manchester City – champions of England, Europe, and the world – ranks second in Deloitte’s list. According to the firm, the Cityzens recorded a 13% rise in revenues on the way to a historic treble on the pitch, hitting €826 million for the season. But part of that rising figure is an extra €26 billion in commercial revenue, which has been a point of contention throughout the tenure of the club’s owners. City were charged in February with more than 100 alleged breaches of finance rules since their acquisition by the Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group, and were referred to an independent commission for a hearing. Among these are allegations of falsified financial reporting and non-compliance with the Premier League’s probe.

With several of these cases hanging in the balance, and others seeing appeals lodged against their verdicts, it may still prove to be the case that English football’s elite clubs are worth every proverbial penny in Deloitte’s yearly ranking. But if not, this might prove to be one table that isn’t a particularly trustworthy barometer of clubs’ performances.

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