Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 22 News List

England's Premier League beats rivals to the bank: survey

AP , LONDON

England's Premier League is by far the richest and most profitable soccer league in Europe, while Roman Abramovich's Chelsea paid some 170 million euros (US$209 million) in salaries, according to a survey of the 2003-'04 season released on Wednesday.

The 20 clubs in England's top division brought in total revenues of 1.97 billion euros, British accounting firm Deloitte & Touche said in its annual financial review of soccer.

That figure made the Premiership "the biggest football league in Europe by a record margin and represents 18 percent of the total 11 billion euro European football market," the report said.

The survey covered Chelsea's first full season under the ownership of Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich, and it showed. Chelsea's salary bill went up 110 percent and was "almost certainly" the highest in the world for a soccer club, the survey said.

Chelsea finished runner up in 2003-'04 and went on to win the title in the season just ended for the first time in 50 years.

The league's total wage bill came to 1.2 billion euros, with Manchester United second behind Chelsea at 115 million euros.

Excluding Chelsea, the total wage bill rise for other Premier League clubs narrowly dropped from the previous season for the first time.

The 7 percent hike was the lowest rise since 1992 and well below previous "astonishing" increases.

Total revenues for Premier League clubs climbed 6 percent to 1.97 billion euros.

Revenues were equivalent to almost 100 million euros per English club and over 50 percent higher than second-place Italy's Serie A.

Manchester United came in as the top revenue generator at 256 million euros, with Chelsea second at 215 million euros.

The Premier League beat European rivals in operating profits too, bringing in a record 222 million euros and topping its only profitable rival, the German Bundesliga.

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