Lower league wage levels suggests other clubs may suffer same fate as Bury

As Bury face oblivion and Bolton have two weeks to avoid a similar fate, the financial gulf between the booming Premier League and the lower leagues needs little spelling out.

But while it is easy to look at numbers which show that the cumulative revenue of all 24 League One clubs in 2017/18 was barely 60 per cent of the average Premier League club and spot the problem, it is about how the clubs manage those resources.

According to Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance 2019, for the 2017/18 season, Premier League clubs made a cumulative pre-tax profit of £426million.

PA Graphic
PA Graphic

That equates to an average of £21million, but in fact only 13 of the 20 clubs made a pre-tax profit with seven reporting a loss.

That compares to League One, in which the 24 clubs reported a total loss of £81million, an average of £3.4million per club.

And key to that is spending on wages.

Deloitte’s report showed that while the average Premier League club’s wage budget of £142million exceeds the total League One budget of £137million, the key figure is the percentage of club revenues that go on salaries.

In the Premier League, clubs spend an average of 59 per cent of their revenues on wages, but in League One that number leaps to 94 per cent – a number that can leave many of them constantly battling to stay afloat.

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