The dominance of the English Premier League over rival European competitions like the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, La Liga and Serie A has been set out in a new report.
An analysis of the economic and social impact of the top flight has revealed the unrivalled popularity of top-flight English football – and highlighted the contribution the competition makes to the UK economy.
Despite trailing our rivals on the pitch in international competitions for decades, the domestic game has left Germany, France, Spain and Italy way behind.
Premier League is the richest league in the world and a new report underlines its dominance
An eye-popping 3.2 billion viewers watched Premier League matches around the world in 2019-20, with games beamed into 878 million homes world-wide, according to a study carried out by EY financial services, on behalf of the top flight,
The Premier League has delivered assistance to all levels of football and communities during the Covid pandemic, says chief executive Richard Masters.
The pandemic caused huge disruption, with 2019/20 season temporarily suspended. During that and the following season, 472 matches were played behind closed doors or with limited capacity, resulting in an estimated 18 million reduction in attendances.
However, the Premier League continued to be successful and support others, says Masters.
‘We are proud of the level of support we provide the football pyramid, as well as funding community organisations of clubs up and down the country,’ he said.
‘The importance of their work has been more evident than ever in recent times, providing help to people who needed it the most.’
Premier League clubs played an important role in supporting fans and communities during the pandemic by helping to provide food and support to vulnerable people and hosting NHS staff and vaccination centres, among many initiatives.
During the Covid-affected season, the top flight supported 94,000 jobs and still contributed £7.6 billion to the UK economy
Regionally, the league is calculated to have contributed £2.1 billion to the economies in London and North West and £500M in the Midlands.
‘In the absence of [Covid] disruption, the economic impact of the League would have been significantly higher,’ the report states.
The League provided solidarity and parachute payments to 138 EFL and National League clubs, with a total of £455 million distributed to other leagues and community football in 2019/20.
In addition, 528,000 people travelled to the UK to watch matches, despite Covid having a major impact on the season.
As previously reported by Sportsmail, the success of Premier League football contributed £7.6 billion to the UK economy during the 2019/20 season, which was suspended for more than three months due to the pandemic.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: ‘Our clubs produce exciting, competitive football featuring the best players and managers in the world, which is followed by billions of fans globally and supporters filling stadiums each week.
‘This success and popularity enables us to continue investing in the competition and provide unparalleled support to the whole game and communities, ensuring the positive impact of the Premier League is felt far beyond what we see on the pitch.’
The report, published today, is a ‘tour de force’ for the top flight.
It comes at a time that the league is fighting a rear-guard action against proposals for the creation of an independent regulator for football, which would shift power from the Premier League, EFL and FA to a new body.
The regulator has been recommended in an extensive, fan-led review of football governance by former sports minister and Conservative MP, Tracey Crouch.
The League and its clubs generated a total tax contribution of £3.6 billion to the UK Exchequer in 2019/20, £1.4 billion of which was accounted for by Premier League players, according to the new analysis.
The success of the Premier League is underpinned by its global appeal.
Overseas TV income in the Covid-affected season was £1.4BN, almost half of the UK’s total earnings from television programmes sold abroad in 2019-20. It was also more than double the overseas TV income of the other four major European football leagues added together, which amounted to £1.2BN.
The annual report concludes that the popularity of English football among international fans stems from its competitive nature. While financial power and success is concentrated among the Big Six clubs, it is shared more widely than in the other European leagues and on any given day, even the bottom sides can still overturn those at the top.
The report says this is supported by a more equitable distribution of the money generated by the Premier League than in the other European competitions.
In the English top flight, the highest ranked team receives 1.6 times the funding from central revenue distributions, compared to the bottom team. The ratio is less than half of that in Spain’s La Liga.
The popularity of English football overseas has underpinned Premier League success
Premier League chief executive Richard Maters says top flight has supported lower leagues
The talent in English football is enhanced by the number of high-quality internationals who want to play here.
And in a social media age, where football fans around the world follow individual players as well as teams, the presence of international stars fuels popularity.
At Euro 2020, there were 117 players from Premier League competing, with another 34 from lower leagues, making a total of 152. In comparison, there were 91 players from the German leagues.
The Premier League saw 2.1BN interactions through its social media channels in 2019-20. While most came from the UK, the next highest figure was in Egypt, where two million people follow the top flight’s Facebook page.
Teddy Sheringham of Nottingham Forest fires past David James of Liverpool to score the only goal in a 1-0 win for Forest in the first Premier League game to be televised on Sky
The cost of screening Premier League football at home and abroad has rocketed since 1992 and the increase in broadcast revenues has driven the rising value of the top flight
|League||Revenue per club (£m)||% Total club revenue|
|Source: UEFA Benchmarking Report 2019|
The interest generated by Mohamed Salah, Liverpool’s record-breaking and title winning forward, and captain of the Egypt national team, has led more people to express an interest in the Premier League (85 per cent), than the North African countries’ own competition (80 per cent).
All of this reflects well on the UK as a whole, according to the report.
‘International players, by promoting interest in the League within their home countries and vice versa, help build enduring connections that support engagement between the Premier League and the international community,’ it states. ‘Taken as a whole, these connections support the Premier League’s global appeal and promote a positive perception of the UK.’
And the financial success of domestic football is beginning to bear fruit on the pitch in international competitions.
Premier League clubs spend more on the development of youth players than European rivals
Premier League clubs spend more on youth development than their European rivals and the Elite Player Performance Pathway, which is a partnership between the top flight, EFL and FA, is generating new stars like Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount, who have helped England to a semi final finish in the 2018 World Cup and finalist in Euro 2020.
Some Premier League clubs have warned that the introduction of an independent regulator for football would undermine the top flight’s success.
MP Tracey Crouch led the government’s ‘fan-led’ review of football
Ministers are due to decide on Crouch’s proposals in the coming months, in particular, whether a regulator should be set up by an Act of Parliament, which would give it sweeping powers to license clubs and intervene at poorly-run outfits.
Crouch, the EFL and its clubs as well as fans, have argued that a regulator is required to put English football as a whole on a stable financial footing and reduce the possibility that clubs will over reach themselves and risk their futures, like Derby County, or even put themselves out of business, like Bury and Macclesfield.
While the Premier League is an enormous success, the rest of the English football pyramid is financially unstable.
Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear likened Crouch’s recommendations to Maoism
Top flight clubs have suggested that if implemented, they could undermine the economic impact of the current ‘product’
Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear likened Crouch’s recommendations to Maoism.
‘All I’m trying to do is get some money down the pyramid,’ Crouch told MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee before Christmas.
‘My understanding is that the Premier League… is going to argue very strongly for the independent regulator to not be set up via legislation.
‘I think they will push back very, very hard on the statutory aspect of the independent regulator, and would rather it was a unit in the Football Association.’