The Premier League paid champions Chelsea nearly £151million in broadcast fees and prize money last season, up almost £58million on the sum Leicester received for winning the title a year ago.
The staggering increase in the amount all Premier League clubs have received this season is a result of the top flight’s bumper broadcast deals, particularly the £1.7billion a year they share for domestic rights.
The league shares money from its central commercial deals and overseas broadcast rights on an equal basis, which means all 20 clubs got nearly £5million each for the former and just over £39million for the latter.
Half of the domestic broadcast income is shared out evenly – £35.3million each – with one quarter shared out in “facility fees” for each game shown on UK television and the other quarter in “merit payments” based on each club’s league position.
In terms of merit payments, Sunderland received £1,941,609 for coming last, with each club higher up the ladder getting a multiple of that all the way to nearly £39million for Chelsea.
— Nick Harris (@sportingintel) June 1, 2017
But facility fees can make a big difference to a club’s final payment, with matches involving the bigger clubs always more attractive to broadcasters. This explains why runners-up Arsenal were top earners in 2015-16, getting over £7million more than Leicester received.
Last season’s facility fees did not skew the final payments quite as dramatically but both Manchester City and Liverpool banked more than second-placed Tottenham. City earned nearly £147million, Liverpool cleared £146million and Spurs earned a shade under £145.5million.
Manchester United’s cheque came to over £141million, £1.5million more than Arsenal, despite finishing one place behind the North Londoners in sixth place.
Just as there was in the league, there is then a relatively large gap to Everton in seventh place with Premier League earnings of almost £128million. There are then small gaps between the next 13 clubs all the way to Sunderland’s £93,471,118, a princely reward for propping up the table.
The Premier League also paid out nearly £220million to eight teams in parachute payments. Those teams were Aston Villa, Cardiff, Fulham, Newcastle, Norwich, QPR, Reading and Wigan.
The three most recently relegated sides – Villa, Newcastle and Norwich – got almost £41million each, QPR £31million and the other four over £16million each.
Overall, the ratio between the highest and the lowest earning clubs in the Premier League was 1.61 to 1, the lowest ratio among Europe’s top leagues. This is one of the league’s core philosophies and main selling points, as it fosters the perception of a fiercely competitive league.
The Premier League’s undeniable appeal to broadcasters at home and abroad has also enabled it to increase the money it distributes to clubs further down the pyramid and on grassroots facilities and projects. In the last financial year, the league spent £200million in this area, about seven per cent of its total broadcast income.