Football League Salaries Comparison

Share on Social Media


The Premier League lives up to its name in every sense, including football league salaries. Players in the Premier League earn almost twice as much as players in the next league.  La Liga is the next league.  It is just slightly ahead of the Bundesliga.  Next comes Serie A, and Ligue 1

The MLS is the main US league.  It ranks sixth on the list of football league salaries.  However, the average salary there is less than a fifth of what a player can expect to earn in the top flight in England. In fact, the average US player is slightly better paid than their equivalents in countries like Turkey.  This falls in line with  the second tier of football in England and Germany.

Gap in Football League Salaries is Growing

In reality, the gaps between the haves and the have-nots is starting to widen, not shrink.  COVID has served to exacerbate the differences between rich clubs and those without these generous benefactors.  Hundreds of clubs found themselves struggling when the pandemic hit.  Clubs rely on fan support and attendance for their income.  COVID impacted clubs all over the world.  Fans could not attend games.  As a result, revenue went down.

UEFA Financial Fair Play

UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations were created to protect clubs.  They were intended to keep clubs safe. FFP are a set of regulations that prohibit professional football clubs from spending more than they earn.    This protects clubs from getting into financial problems due to over-expenditure.   This helps them in the long term. 

FFP was also meant to align salaries in terms of clubs incomes.  Those rules are being relaxed as the football authorities recognize the need for balance sheets to be strengthened.  During COVID, fans did not attend games.  Clubs started playing in front of empty stadiums.   Several clubs throughout Europe went bankrupt.  Many of these had been around for decades.  

There are always outliers. For example, PSG in France have recently topped the global salary list with an annual wage bill estimated at over US $350 million. Lionel Messi alone accounting for US 41 million of that.

This does not mean all French clubs can afford to pay those sorts of wages. Players at clubs like Troyes, Clermont and Anger earn much less.  Their players are lucky to have a years wages equal what Messi earns in a week.

The Premier League clubs are regarded as big payers.  There is still is a world of difference between what a player can earn at the different Premier League clubs.  Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are able to pay big money.  Many other clubs, such as Brentford, Norwich City, and Burnley cannot compete with these salaries.

Spain Creating its Own FFP

Sometimes salaries are artificially constrained. Spain is attempting to address the issue of deteriorating club finances with their own version of FFP.  This includes the imposition of a salary cap.  This is why Barcelona was unable to  re-register Messi as a player.   La Liga may begin to fall in the pre-eminent position that it occupies in the salary league.

This could have a domino effect on the league’s ability to attract top talent.  Players will join the clubs that pay them the highest salaries.

MLS Also Has a Salary Cap

The MLS has its own salary cap.  Each team has a budget for what they are allowed to pay their roster each year.   The Designated Player Rule is an exception to this.   This rule allows  MLS teams to acquire up to three players whose wages exceed that limit.

The MLS was changed in 2007 when David Beckham joined the league.  He was one of only five was one of  Designated Players in his debut season in the league.  In the long run, he remains one of the best known.

Many people question whether salary caps are good for the long-term good of a league.  Some feel that they will lead to teams being levelled out.  This will encourage mediocrity.  These people believe that as wages are capped, ambition will be curtailed as well.

Personally, I do not believe this would be the case.  To begin with, the type of athlete who makes it to top tier soccer is very competitive.  Therefore, this competitive edge will push them to succeed even if they do not receive greater pay.  I do not believe that the same competitive drive that takes a player to the top levels of soccer can be stopped.  With this in mind, I believe they compete for the love of competition.

In conclusion, people are always fascinated by how much others earn.  This is especially the case when looking at professional athlete salaries.  

Return to Homepage