LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) - The Premier League’s reputation as richest in the world was reinforced by an annual football finance report which showed record revenue of 3.6 billion pounds ($4.63 billion) in 2015/16, a 9 percent jump on the previous season.
Across all four divisions, the 92 clubs generated 4.4 billion pounds, another record, with new highs in spending, profits and tax also being recorded by the 26th edition of Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance published on Wednesday.
It paints a picture of “relentless revenue growth” with the record-breaking 2016-19 broadcasting revenue deal, which secured a 50 percent rise to 8.3 billion pounds, further improving finances.
Over the three-year broadcasting rights cycle to 2015/16, the report said combined operating profits topped 1.6 billion pounds - more than the total over the previous 16 seasons combined.
“The Premier League continues to power ahead of the other four big European leagues, particularly with regard to broadcast revenues, as has been the case for well over a decade now,” the report said.
Although wages are soaring, up 12 percent to 2.3 billion pounds as clubs anticipated expected income from the latest lucrative broadcasting deal, the report said there was evidence of a more prudent approach with just 44 percent of revenue increases being spent on wages since 2012/13, compared with 99 percent in the five years before that.
While Leicester City won the Premier League despite being ranked 15th by wage costs, and Chelsea finished eight places lower than their ranking, the report said the subsequent 2016/17 season showed a “stronger correlation between wage costs and league position”, with the division’s top six wage spenders in 2015/16 filling the top six wage positions in 2016/17.
The report also revealed the price for those chasing a share of Premier League riches, with Championship clubs spending more on wages than revenue for the third time in four seasons.
The second-tier clubs recorded a record combined operating loss of 261 million pounds with net debt rising to 1.3 billion pounds as owners continued to gamble on reaching the Premier League.
The report’s editor, Dan Jones, predicted Premier League revenues topping 4.5 billion pounds by 2017-18, a confident assessment in contrast with another report published on Monday by financial analysts Vysyble which warned of dangerous levels of over-spending and said clubs were not meeting rising costs of transfers and wages.
Clubs are on course to break their transfer spending record this summer. The Sportingintelligence website this week said that Premier League clubs had spent 571 million in transfers since the start of the month, making it the fifth biggest window ever, with 52 days remaining until it ends. ($1 = 0.7775 pounds) (Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Alison Williams)