Barcelona remain the best paid team in global sport measured by average first-team wages, with Real Madrid in second place but Manchester City of the Premier League have stormed into the top three and continue to close the gap on the Spanish giants, according to the Sportingintelligence Global Sports Salaries Survey 2012, published this week.
The average first team pay at Barcelona – employees of the world’s best player, Lionel Messi – has been calculated at £101,160 per player per week, or £5,260,313 per year in the period under review. That represents a year-on-year increase of 10 per cent at the Nou Camp as Barca hold their No1 spot.
Real Madrid’s players in No2 place earned £90,859 per week (£4.7m per year, a rise of six per cent).
First-team stars at City, at No3, earned an average of £86,280 per man per week, or £4.5m per year, the highest salaries ever paid in the English Premier League, the world’s richest football league. City’s numbers represent a 26 per cent year-on-year increase in average first-team pay and demonstrate the depth of the pockets of oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour.
Another Premier League team, Chelsea, climb from No6 to No4 this year, with average first-team pay of £4.1m per player, a reminder they are hardly paupers, despite a perception in some quarters that their Russian petrodollar billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has eased off his spending recently.
Chelsea’s progress to the 2012 Champions League final at the expense of Barcelona was a shock in footballing terms but not unsurprising set against the reservoirs of cash Abramovich has spent on players, managers and salaries since 2003.
This year’s report has been again been compiled in association with ESPN The Magazine in America, for a special ‘All About the Money’ issue, on sale this week.
The salaries report features average salary information from 278 teams in 14 leagues in seven sports across 10 countries. It includes information from the dozen most popular sports leagues in the world (by average attendance per game) plus the MLS and SPL as examples of smaller leagues from the world’s most popular sport, football.
Figures are from the in-progress seasons in NBA basketball, NHL ice hockey, MLB baseball and MLS football, and from the most recently completed seasons for all the other teams, including the major leagues of European football to IPL cricket, AFL Aussie Rules, CFL Canadian football and NPB Japanese baseball.
Sportingintelligence’s first global salaries report was published in 2010, to compare average first-team pay on a like-for-like basis for the first time at clubs in the world’s richest and most popular sports leagues. The New York Yankees were No1 that year, and the top 10 included seven American sports teams, six of them from the NBA.
By last year, the Yankees had been knocked off their perch by Barca and Real, and Manchester City had soared from No86 in the 2010 list into the No10 spot in 2011. The top 10 in 2011 had five American teams and five from European football.
This year’s top 10 has three American teams (the Yankees and Phillies from baseball and the LA Lakers from the NBA) and seven European football teams.
As the introduction to the main report notes: “This is a function of the unrelenting growth in football income – and expenditure – among the elite clubs in European football, which is also unhindered by any wage caps, and the relative stability and restraint in America’s major sports leagues.
“It is possible but by no means certain that some wage restraint at some European football clubs is on the horizon as a result of new ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules (FFP) being introduced by Uefa, the governing body of football across Europe … But the effectiveness of Uefa’s policing remains to be seen. And in any case, the biggest, richest clubs will almost certainly continue to generate massive sums, and therefore continue to fund growing salary bills.”
The top 20 in the 2012 review includes six teams from the NBA, five from the Premier League, four from MLB baseball, two each from La Liga and Serie A and one from the Bundesliga.
The full report includes an overview of average salaries across each league, and considers the pay differential between the best-paid team in each league and the lowest-paid team.
The NBA remains the best-paid league overall per man, with average annual salaries of £2.65m a year, or £50,883 per player per week on average. The LA Lakers are the highest paying team in the NBA and the Indian Pacers the lowest, and the difference between the two is a ratio of 1.86 to 1.
This is tiny compared the ratio between the best paid and worst paid in Spain: 22.81 to 1. That is why Barcelona and Real Madrid are way head of everyone else in that league. Even the Scottish SPL is no longer as stretched as that (with a ratio of 19.18 to 1 between top and bottom).