Last night I tweeted a few facts from Arsenal’s accounts for the year ended 31 May 1975, that @Gooner_AK gave me a copy of. It’s fascinating to compare the numbers with those we have now.
In 1975 the total wage bill for the year was £413,160. That’s for everyone! The whole staff. That’s less than a sixth of Abou Diaby or Chamakh. If Wayne Rooney signs, he’ll be asking for twice as much as that total EVERY MONTH! Unbelievable.
In 1975 Arsenal were paid £9,954 for TV appearances. In 2012 this had risen to a staggering £84m. Meanwhile gate receipts for the season were £528k in 1975, and £95m in 2012. The obvious and correct conclusion is that football has become far more reliant on TV money in the intervening time. Tim of @7amkickoff was moved to tweet back to me that “Soon foreign TV contract money will dwarf gate receipts at Arsenal, meaning that my viewership will matter more than your attendance” (Tim is American). He went on, “TV money already makes up the vast majority of budgets for non-top four clubs. I always tell Stoke supporters that me watching their shite on telly matters more to their club’s survival than them attending games at their shithole.”Tim makes some good points, despite his gutter language and odd use of the word ‘telly’, which I thought was only a British thing (and quite a lame British thing at that).
Anyway, Arsenal with their massive stadium and equally massive prices are one of the few clubs still making more from gate receipts than TV right now, but as Tim says that is changing. Within two years TV money will overtake gate receipts at Arsenal too.
But what of Stoke and their like? Well it’s not really so much that foreign viewers have to or even want to watch them, more that their games come as part of the PL deal with the clubs that everyone DOES want to watch. For that they can be grateful that the big clubs want to maintain a semblance of competition by having collective bargaining on broadcast rights – if you want Man Utd and Arsenal you also have to get Stoke, Hull and Norwich.
Another point is that millions of people around the world have to want to watch the Premier League for Stoke to benefit, and Tim is just one of that multitude, but only 25,000 need to turn up at the Britannia Stadium to create what passes for an atmosphere there, so as individuals those who attend are still more important than Tim (sorry Tim).
As Sumit Bhardwaj tweeted back as well, TV audiences don’t generally like to watch football in empty stadiums, so that’s another reason why the fans who attend are still the most important, no matter where the money is coming from. No crowd in the stadium, no TV money anyway.
This is not to have a go at overseas fans at all, or doubt their passion, but someone still has to go to the stadium on a regular basis or the whole thing falls apart. Even I don’t go nearly as much as I used to, so from an attendance point of view I would hardly be lecturing anyone there.
If you have an opinion on the money in football, whether Wayne Rooney’s wage disgusts you or you think too much is not enough, take a look at this film project, and get yourself involved. The filmmaker is looking for fans to send pictures of themselves and share their thoughts. You can also watch this video to find out more.
Follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5