LONDON • English Premier League clubs generated a record income of almost £3.4 billion (S$6.87 billion) last year, with 14 of the 20 clubs making a profit, The Guardian's analysis of the league's most recently published accounts has revealed.
The improvement in the clubs' finances, after years of overpaying players in wages and making losses despite the Premier League's huge television rights and other income, is the result of clubs having finally agreed to introduce financial fair play regulations in 2013.
The regulations, which restrict clubs' losses to £35 million a year if bankrolled by an owner and cap the amount of new TV income permitted to be spent on players' wages, immediately transformed clubs' balance sheets.
In the final season before financial fair play was introduced, 12 of the 20 clubs made a loss, and the world's richest league recorded an overall loss of £291 million.
Caused mostly by excessive spending on players' wages despite the bonanza from TV rights and eye-watering ticket prices, that loss turned into a total £198 million in profit in 2013-14.
For the 2014-15 season, the league made an overall profit of £113 million, a fall despite the record income.
This was predominantly due to relatively heavy losses made by Chelsea, Sunderland, Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa.
The financial regulations have been renewed for the next three-year period, from 2016 to 2019, covering new TV deals that are expected to exceed £8 billion, launching Premier League clubs on to levels of wealth beyond any other league.
In 2014-15, the total spending on wages was slightly up on 2013-14, from £1.9 billion - 57.5 per cent of the clubs' income - to £2 billion, which is 60 per cent of income.
The vast majority of this spending was on players' wages rather than on clubs' other employees, although some senior staff are increasingly better paid.
Eleven of the clubs handed their highest-paid director more than £500,000. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was the highest-paid executive last year, with a total package of £2.61 million, including salary and bonuses.
The 60 per cent figure for spending on wages is significantly down from previous years.
In 2009-10, the year Portsmouth became the only Premier League club to collapse into administration, wages were 68 per cent of income and clubs made a record total loss of £445 million.