A recent study conducted by Kieran Maguire from the Price of Football website has revealed how much British football clubs owe to banks and their owners. It was calculated that the clubs combined to owe £3,517,300,000 in total, according to figures from their most recent set of accounts.
Manchester United top the list, owing a huge £496 million whilst both Chelsea and Everton are amongst nine clubs who do not owe either their owner or banks any money at all. The list certainly makes for interesting reading and there may be one or two clubs whose figures will surprise you. Seven of the top 10 clubs are in the Premier League and as such are in no immediate trouble due to the finances they receive for playing at that level.
However, Sunderland of League One sit sixth on the list which is far from ideal with them now playing in the third tier of English football. Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers are the other two clubs who are not in the Premier League but are in the top 10 of money owed to owners or banks.
Brighton odds-on to stay up despite second highest debt
One of the most surprising figures within the study is that Brighton & Hove Albion have the second highest debt. The Seagulls have borrowed £207.1 million according to the report, almost all of which is owed to their owner Tony Bloom. Nearly £100 million of that comes from the cost of building the Amex Stadium, whilst the rest is from the huge losses they accrued whilst in the Championship between 2011 and 2017 after they spent around £110 million on players during that time.
However, it seems that Bloom's heavy spending has now paid off. Indeed they are now a Premier League club and Brighton's odds to be relegated this season are a whopping 20/1 with Sky Bet so they should be set for a third straight season in English football's top flight. They are also still in the FA Cup and are seventh favourites to win it with odds of 20/1 to claim their first major trophy, so despite borrowing plenty they are now reaping the rewards.
Added to that, Bloom is a local and a huge Brighton fan and hasn't charged the club any interest at all. This means that he is unlikely to ever try and recoup the money he has 'leant' to the Seagulls, unlike some other clubs who owe banks millions of pounds.
Manchester United top the list
The only team sitting above Brighton & Hove Albion in the list is Manchester United, who owe a staggering £495.9 million. The difference between the two clubs however is that the Red Devils have paid in excess of £700 million in interest to the banks since the Glazer's took control back in 2005. This is why the family are not liked by a large portion of the United fan base, because the club are in such debt to them.
However, it has to be factored in the amount of revenue and assets the club has. The debt is currently sustainable after the amount of success Sir Alex Ferguson brought to the club in the Glazer's early years in charge and the good times may yet be coming back to Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has begun turning things around and they are third favourites to win the FA Cup this season with odds of 6/1 with bet365.
Arsenal are third on the list owing £205 million, Liverpool sit fourth with £201 million whilst Tottenham Hotspur are fifth on £180 million. However, Spurs are likely to leapfrog all bar United into second place once the next accounts are published due to borrowing money to build their brand new stadium, which is still yet to be finished.
- Manchester United - £495.8m
- Brighton & Hove Albion - £207.1m
- Arsenal - £205.3m
- Liverpool - £201.7m
- Spurs - £180.4m
- Sunderland - £161.7m
- Newcastle - £152.3m
- Stoke - £122,7m
- Cardiff - £115.1m
- Blackburn Rovers - £112.8m
High borrowings not key to success in the Championship
Looking at the data for clubs currently playing in the Championship makes for very interesting reading. The report shows that four of the top seven clubs in the second tier are amongst the five clubs with the least amounts of debts, suggesting that borrowing money does not always lead to success. Norwich City, who are now favourites to win the Championship with some bookmakers at odds of around 6/4, have the fifth lowest debt whilst third placed Sheffield United owe just £1.9 million and fourth placed West Brom do not owe a penny. Derby County are the other top seven club who sit low down on the list.
Meanwhile Stoke City, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, owe £122.7 million by comparison with Blackburn Rovers (£112.8 million) and Ipswich Town (£95.5 million) also high on the list. All three of those clubs are mid-table or lower in the Championship at the moment, with Ipswich Town odds-on at 1/25 to be relegated to League One with Sky Bet. Without the huge riches the top flight offer these clubs could be in lots of trouble should their owners call in some of the debts. Whilst Stoke owner Peter Coates is unlikely to do so, the Venky's and Marcus Evans may not be as kind.