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I had the great good fortune last month to meet 20 Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy players, some of whom had shown an interest in receiving legal advice on a wide range of matters, writes David Little, a Partner in our Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.

Professional football is notorious for its nefarious goings on. But increasingly the forces for good outweigh the reputation for sleaze that the likes of Sep Blatter at the top of world football, once, reduced it to.

Bishop & Sewell was recently invited to join the PPW Workshops Network set up by Peter Etherington, father of the former Premier League star footballer, Matthew Etherington (who played for Spurs, West Ham and Stoke). Through this association with Peter and his Professional Players Network we meet various youth and professional footballers at clubs ranging from the Premier League, Championship Division 1 and Division 2 over the course of the season.

Professional footballers are acutely aware of the scrutiny their high wages attract. According to Statista.com the average salary, by club in the Premier league this year is £7.1 million for Manchester United players and £640,000 for Brentford FC players.  Their fascinating table is here.

According to Spotrac, Bournemouth star Zemura is on a weekly wage of just £385. Whereas Ronaldo takes home a reported £515,385 per week.

In the lower division a League 2 player reportedly earns an average £2,500 per week with the average team wage bill being over £30,000 per week for a League 2 club.

Salaries in football have increased more than 200% since 2000, which demonstrates the increasing pots of money the sport has to play with. Good footballers are in high demand because they increase the likelihood of a team winning a title, which means the team will make considerable amounts of cash by selling broadcasting rights, tickets and merchandise to its fans.

It’s all about supply and demand. Surprisingly, there’s a shortage of players that can hit the same mark as Mo Salah or Erling Haaland. Which means that clubs need to bid for players, outbidding each other to ensure they win the best players who, in turn, will take the club further and earn it money. It’s a win-win situation – for those directly involved, at least.

The amount of money in the football pot has increased with consumer demand and technological advances, such as the paid television market, which is incredibly profitable for broadcasters. In 1992, rights to air the Premier League sold for just under £200m, compared to the breath taking £5 billion that was paid for the rights for the 2019-20 season.

It’s important to remember that footballers don’t just make money from what they do off the pitch. Off the pitch, many of them are celebrities in their own right with enormous international followings. Because of this, they can command huge sums of money for sponsorship deals, product advertising and endorsements.

Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr. earns an extra £30 million from 13 sponsors. Cristiano Ronaldo has 12 sponsors and earns similar amounts to Neymar. Even less in-demand footballers such as Sergio Aguero earn hundreds of thousands in sponsorship, for contracts usually spanning several years.

It’s not just footballers that get paid huge sums

Football managers also reap the financial rewards of football – perhaps more so than the players.

According to the Professional Football Scouts Association Mikel Arteta, manager of Arsenal, is one of football’s lesser paid managers, but still takes home £7 million a year. That’s nothing compared to ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s annual pay packet, which was around £17 million.

But back to Wolves. Professional footballers, just like anyone else, need help on managing their tax affairs, writing a will, arranging a mortgage or perhaps a prenup.

In many ways, they’re just like you.

Contact our Corporate & Commercial Team

David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB360 on either 020 7631 4141 or email company@bishopandsewell.co.uk.

The above is accurate as at 31 October 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Category: Blog | Date: 31st Oct 2022

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