The last figures we saw published pegged the average League Two wage as £459/week – that was a couple of years ago. Now, I’d accept that if offered it, but for the glitz and glamour of professional football, it seems a little low. Rochdale and Wimbledon are neither glitzy nor glamourous; more Monty Don than Monte Carlo.
I was looking through some figures this morning, and ended up doing a little maths on the side – it was quite interesting, I thought.
Firstly, the next year’s TV rights deal for the Premier League will see every club receive at least £60,000,000. There are 24 teams in League Two, and squad sizes (although generally actually a little smaller as you go down the leagues) are set at 25 for the Premier League. Thus, it would take 25% of a single Premier League team’s income only from TV money next season to pay all twenty-four League Two clubs’ wages for the season (and that’s allowing an increase to £480/week – about 4.7%). I’m not suggesting they should do it, I’m just pointing it out.
Secondly, the Premier League, cuddly and generous bunch of right-on conscience-obeyers that they are, pay solidarity payments to the Championship. Next season, Championship teams, including my team, Huddersfield Town, can expect to receive around £3,740,000 (this is a figure I found in the Telegraph, it may be as low as £2.3m). Now, Huddersfield are nowhere near the Premiership, but the teams they compete with are. Using the same metric of League Two wages, it would take four Championship clubs’ payments to pay League Two’s wages.
It’s a giant discrepancy between the TV money offered to the 20th and 21st best teams in the country. I would think this is going to lead to two things.
Firstly, to get to the point of being competitive (to stay) in the Premier League means teams will have to have players whose value is low at the time of promotion (maybe they’re young, maybe new to England; something like Swansea have done and Wigan have been doing) and then hopefully hold on to them when they do the business, or even sell them for a big fee. Secondly, because Premier League sides will have that much more money to spend, players’ wages will rises further. That will lead to better players being attracted to the Premier League and, given the fact that contracts are rarely signed for one or two years, if players’ standards are improving, there’ll be a number of better players than there is now on the periphary of Premier League squads.
If the standard of players in the Premier League goes up, then the standard of players who aren’t wanted to play in the league, it stands to reason, will also be higher. As a result of which, any ‘spares’ who will presumably find themselves in the Championship (or abroad) will be of better quality. That means that we’d have a situation where, indirectly, the Premier League was paying the Championship’s way, as the loan players won’t be paid 100% of their wages by their borrowing club, it will be topped up by the parent club, who are subsidised by the Premier League’s TV rights fees.
That will be interesting to see.
Of course, there is a half-way house. QPR, having been relegated, will receive a ‘Parachute’ payment to help them with the burden of contracts they signed while in the Premier League. That will be £23,000,000 next year. You don’t have to be the world’s best mathematician to see that will leave QPR, Reading and (probably) Wigan¹ as receiving around ten times the cash injection than a number of the clubs they’re playing against next season; an uneven playing field at best. Its not something I understand, either; it seems to promote silly spending in the Premier League, safe in the knowledge there’s a considerable cushion if it does go wrong.
Where is this going? Simply to say, with £20m plain deficit between Championship solidarity and Parachute payments, it means that those Championship clubs who wish to compete have to find £20m to even get to the same level as their recently relegate counterparts start from, which is no trifling amount. Little wonder that so many crash and burn with huge debts, Bristol City.
¹Wigan have, at least, shown they’re approaching Premier League standard this season and will be foraying into Europe next year, so at least they’ve got some justification.