Einstein once said that “everything is relative”. His words are just as valid in football as they are in physics. For example, suppose you want to know which are the European teams that spend more money on wages. The answer depends very much on what you consider “spending more” to be.

If you are interested in knowing which are the clubs that ‘pay’ more million euros, then the answer is straightforward. Real Madrid is in the first position, followed by Mourinho’s Manchester United and two other European giants: Luis Enrique’s Barcelona and Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich. This leadership should be strengthened in the near term, given that Gareth Bale’s contract has been recently adjusted upwards, and Ronaldo’s renovation is just around the corner.

Then you have the three ‘new rich’ European football: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Chelsea. These are clubs that gave a qualitative leap after being bought by tycoons willing to invest money. Chelsea was bought in 2003 by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan did the same to City in 2009 and in 2011 it was the PSG’s turn to become the property of a group of QATAR (Qatar Investment Authority). The wage bill skyrocketed from there.

These are the gross figures. However, we havent’s said much so far about the relative importance of wages in clubs’ overall revenue. Finance Football used UEFA data in order to do some research and calculate how much these costs represent in clubs’ total revenue. And here is the result.


The figure was computed taking into account total wage costs and operating revenue, net of transfer proceeds. The sample comprises the top 20 clubs that spend more money on wages. As you can see, italian clubs seem to take the lead. They spend less than the ‘big five’, but spend more as a fraction of their operating revenue.

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In the case of Rome, for example, 85% of revenues are used to pay salaries. Inter Milan and AC Milan spend 73% of their revenue, and even Juventus, the most successful over the past few years, spends 66%.

The turkish titan Galatasary is on a different level: almost 100% of its revenues are used to pay wage costs. One really has to wonder where do they get the money to pay for the rest of their costs.