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Premier League clubs on course to set new profitability records

By David Owen

November 24 – Only five clubs have so far reported, 25% of the total, but already it looks like Premier League participants are on course for record aggregate profits in the 2016-17 financial year.

All five – Arsenal, Stoke City, Hull City, who were relegated, and the two Manchester giants – have been in the black, amassing between them £141.8 million in pre-tax profits.

While it would be a surprise if all 20 clubs manage to avoid losses, this is close enough already to the record aggregate sum of £187 million, set in 2013-14, to make it probable that this tally will be exceeded. A final total of a quarter of a billion pounds might even be in range.

Although this situation represents a rapid rebound from 2015-16, when the 20 Premier League clubs recorded an aggregate pre-tax loss of £94.5 million, it is not really surprising. Like the current record year, 2016-17 was the first season under a new series of TV deals.

Once again, the league succeeded in negotiating a substantial increase in sums payable for broadcasting rights over the term of the new contracts. Professional services firm Deloitte has projected that overall broadcasting revenues for Premier League clubs will jump from £1.93 billion to £2.7 billion in 2016-17, with Premier League central distributions accounting for £2.4 billion of this.

This, Deloitte says, is tantamount to an average increase of £38 million per club.

As in 2013-14, clubs seem to have managed to restrict staff cost increases to much less than the uptick in their primary income source – hence the marked improvement in margins and results.

Among clubs still to report, both surprise 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur will have UEFA Champions League money to add to their other revenues. The Foxes generated €81.7 million from their run to the quarter-finals of last season’s competition, while Spurs picked up €43.3 million.

Manchester United have posted the biggest 2016-17 profit among those who have so far reported, with a figure of £56.5 million, ahead of Arsenal with £44.6 million and Hull with £35.7 million.

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