Average UK wages rise 186% in same period, yet fans are expected to mop up costs with increasingly expensive tickets
Top footballers’ pay has risen 1,500% in the past 20 years, many times more than the 186% increase in average UK wages, according to a new study. Players’ wages now account for up to 70% of a club’s turnover, compared with 48% in 1997, research by the High Pay Centre thinktank revealed.
The report said fans were paying the price for excessive wages, with the cheapest available ticket for top games increasing by more than 1,000% since 1989. The cheapest ticket to watch Liverpool in 1989 was £4 but it now costs £45, and prices have risen from £5 to £51 at Arsenal. English football clubs accounted for 56% of all debt in top flight clubs across Europe, while over half of English league clubs having been insolvent in the past 20 years, according to the study.
Dave Boyle, the report’s author, said that on top of rises in players’ salaries, clubs had taken on levels of debt that would be unsustainable in other businesses and the national team had been outperformed by teams from much poorer countries.
Nick Isles, chairman of the High Pay Centre, said: “Bankers and company executives frequently make the comparison between their own pay and that of professional footballers.
“There are similarities. For both the pay is extremely high, excessively complex and, in many cases, secret. In football as in business, the money could be better invested in training and infrastructure, rather than unsustainable salary increases.
“It may now be time to put the brakes on this dramatic escalation in pay at the top. We are calling for a national debate on what is fair pay for those at the top of our companies, banks and football leagues.”