The Premier League will witness its first ‘billion-pound game’ on Saturday when Manchester United visit Arsenal, according to financial analysts Vysyble.
The claim is based on the combined turnover of the two rivals, with Arsenal posting revenues of £424million in 2016/17 while United earned a record £581million, taking the clubs’ total to £1.05billion.
For both clubs, these numbers were double-digit percentage increases on 2015/16 and, to put that in perspective, it is enough cash to run the National Health Service for three days or pay for 22 new secondary schools.
In a statement, Vysyble’s Roger Bell said: “This is a remarkable achievement for the Premier League in terms of reflecting the success in driving revenues via lucrative TV rights deals.”
Bell, however, points out the huge sums coming into the top flight do not translate into profits, as all Premier League clubs spend huge sums on transfer fees and wages.
Vysyble also believes the clubs – and many financial analysts – fail to take into account the true cost of doing business and are actually running up economic losses.
“This is part of a longer-term trend whereby clubs in general are finding it very difficult, despite their record revenue levels, to generate value and achieve an economic profit, which is where all the costs of doing business are accounted for, including taxes,” he said.
However, Arsenal’s and Manchester United’s economic losses are relatively “modest”, according to Bell, at £4.2million and £16.3million, respectively.
Saturday’s ‘billion-pound game’ comes a few weeks before the Premier League starts the process of selling the domestic broadcast rights for 2018 to 2021.
Having enjoyed back-to-back increases of 70 per cent in the value of those three-year rights packages, most experts believe the domestic market is flattening out, with international rights being where the big gains can still be found.
This is why the so-called ‘big six’ recently tried to persuade the other clubs to support a change of the revenue-sharing formula for overseas rights in order to reflect their global appeal. The attempt, however, was unsuccessful.
Bell said: ” We continue to worry for the game’s longer-term health and structure as the continued quest for revenue will inevitably lead the top clubs to look beyond current competition formats.”