It’s a common joke that football only started with the formation of the Premier League, but how has football and the money spent on it changed since the Premier League began in 1992?
BetVictor Football have analysed the player wage bills of every club to have ever played in the Premier League since 1992 to find out.
Explore the interactive dataset below to discover how efficient your club has been with wage spending for the entirety of, the past ten seasons of, the past five seasons of and the first 10 seasons of the Premier League.
This is Premier League Wages.
Sum of wages
Average finishing position
Average wins per season
Average cost of a win
It’s official: Chelsea are the biggest all-time spenders on player wages in Premier League history. Spending a huge £2,919,817,668.00 on salaries, the London club has spent more than rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Everton combined.
Despite having only recently emerged as a Premier League force, for Chelsea to have spent more on player salaries than league heavyweights Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool shows the level of investment billionaire Roman Abramovich has pumped into the club since he purchased it, back in 2003.
While anyone can spend money, it takes real skill to spend it effectively. Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal have had an almost surgical approach to recruitment in the past five seasons, maximizing the squad they have and performing the same as, if not better than, their bigger spending rivals, as the data above and below reveals.
|Club||Sum of wages||Average of finishing position Premier League||Average of Won||Average of Cost per Win|
Of course, what the above table doesn’t reflect is Premier League titles won - something that has eluded the lower spending clubs of the top six throughout this period.
Based on the past five seasons, if you’re the owner of a Premier League football club and have ambitions of playing in the UEFA Champions League, you’ll need to spend a minimum of £193 million per year on player wages to have any hopes of qualifying via the top four Premier League places.
For the first ten seasons of the Premier League (92/93 – 01/02), you could win the league by spending an average of £27 million on player wages to guarantee a first-place finish.
However, as of the past five seasons (13/14 -17/18), the required wage bill has increased to a mammoth £196 million – that’s over a 600% increase in required wage spending to achieve the same end goal.
|All Time||Past 10 Seasons||Past 5 Seasons||First 10 Seasons|
|Average of top 4||£90,612,552.44||£156,711,525.00||£155,666,900.00||£24,436,991.60|
You’ll notice that based on the average cost of finishing first over the past five seasons, the average wage bill is actually less than that of fourth place. This is due to a mix of factors, including Leicester’s miraculous title win of the 2015/16 season on a player wage budget of just £80m (which, based on the table above should been sufficient for a ninth placed finish at best) and big spending teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool finishing lower than expected.
Taking Leicester out of the analysis, the average wage bill required to win the Premier League (over the most recent four seasons) rises to a huge £225,087,500.00.
Club financial data sourced from Companies House records and cross referenced against the Financial Times Database. Where clubs dropped out of the Premier League due to relegation, financial records for this season have not been counted. For the instances where financial records have not been accessible for a given club in a given season, the club and their Premier League performance for that season have not been included in the data analysis.
The most recent financial reports are for the 2017/18 season; therefore 2018/19 season data has not been included.
Additional club financial data available upon request.
Premier League performance data sourced from Premierleague.com.