Does pay equal performance?

chelseabadgesmallThirteen European football clubs are amongst the world’s top 50 sports teams when it comes to multi-million euro salaries, the Global Sports Salaries Survey 2014 reveals. While massive pay-packets entice the globe’s best players and performers, punters love a dreamer and rule breaker. But could the answer to finally cracking stubborn footy accumulators and bets lie in the amount a team pays its squad members? SBC’s Dave Kelly takes a look at the key findings, ahead of May’s Betting on Football Conference.


England’s premier flight sees four sides in the top 12, with Manchester’s City & United, Arsenal and Chelsea all featuring. The Sky Blues’ average yearly pay is £5.38m per first team player, more than £1m greater than their rivals, United, who move up four places to occupy 8th spot. The Citizen’s wage demands have jumped by an astounding 265% since 2010, when the average salary was £1.32m (now £4.83m). Both teams from El Clasico and tonight’s Copa del Rey finalists are represented, with Real Madrid in 3rd and Barcelona in 4th position.

The report, commissioned by Sporting Intelligence, examined average first team pay in the world’s most popular leagues, including the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A, to determine the relationship between money and success in sport. The SPL, MLS and China’s CSL were also studied, with figures sourced directly or indirectly via unions, player associations or agents, leagues, clubs and other admin bodies, or taken from official club accounts.

“In most leagues, money matters when it comes to performance; the more you pay, the better you do, all other things being equal,” the study states. Remaining Champions League hopefuls Bayern Munich pay an average weekly wage of £84,671. However, Atletico Madrid could well buck the trend, should they win La Liga or claim Europe’s most coveted prize. They currently top La Liga, and have moved up 56 places to 91st, with an average salary of £1.73m per annum. Likewise, if Liverpool can claim their first title in 24 years, they will do so as the Premier League’s fifth best paying side. Wages at Everton, this season’s surprise package for many, are a third of high flying and free spending City.

Meanwhile, the difference and inequality between the top and bottom teams shows that the SPL is a poor performer, with only China’s CSL worse off. Celtic’s average weekly spend per player is £22,103, dwarfing that of minnows Ross County, whose bill is marginally less than £750. The difference is 29.5 times greater, while the Premier League is 4.6, perhaps mirroring the stark contrast in competiveness, sponsorship and TV revenues. Runaway champions Celtic are an astonishing 73 points ahead of relegated Hearts, while 51 points separate 1st and 20th in the Premier League, where any one of three can still capture the crown.

The Premier League is also the third best attended domestic professional sports league in the world, with the Bundesliga a worthy second. Average attendances during 2012-13 were 35,931 in the EPL, and 41,914 in Germany’s top tier.

Sign up to the Betting on Football conference on 8 May here.

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