With the Big Six being involved in the European Super League (ESL) proposal recently, there have been potential implications regarding the finances of the Premier League and the English football pyramid.
Although all six clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – have withdrawn from the ESL, questions have been raised about their value to the Premier League, both on and off the pitch.
Unsurprisingly, these high-profile clubs bring plenty of fans, income, and lucrative endorsement deals to the Premier League. All the revenue generated has a broader impact on English football. But there would also be an impact on the results and the league’s ranking in purely football terms.
What impact would the big six leaving the Premier League have?
If the Big Six left the Premier League, the results on the field would change dramatically. Teams like West Ham United and Leicester City have gone head-to-head with the Big Six in the 2020/21 season. Brendan Rodgers’ side in particular have done well against Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea in the top flight this season.
West Ham have also taken points away from Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City, while Leeds United have won or drawn with City, Liverpool and Manchester United in the past two weeks.
Leicester, West Ham and Leeds would certainly benefit from the Big Six leaving the Premier League in the 2020/21 season. But these high-performance clubs have also beaten many similar teams. The Hammers have taken the most points (49 out of a possible 66) against the 14 teams outside the top six, while Leicester has 40 points out of the ‘other 14’.
However, West Ham’s dominance over the ‘other 14’ clubs is an anomaly this season. In previous seasons, other teams have performed well against teams outside of the top six. For example, Wolverhampton Wanderers were the most outstanding player in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, finishing seventh in the Premier League for consecutive years.
In 2017/18, Burnley finished seventh after winning just one game all season against Big Six clubs. Going back to 2015/16, when Leicester won the Premier League, all three league losses came against opponents from the Big Six. If the top six teams weren’t involved in the title hunt, Leicester would have had an undefeated season and would have walked through the Premier League.
Without the Big Six, mid-table teams, or even newly promoted clubs, have a better chance of being competitive and getting results from each other in the Premier League.
Premier League audience
In 2020, an estimated three billion people from 188 countries watched the Premier League, but not all teams were seen equally.
Two of the Big Six clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, attract some of the world’s largest audiences for matches broadcast in the Premier League. Historically, clubs have attracted fans from around the world, following their high-level dominance spells between the 1980s and 2000s.
This trend continued with the rise of the Premier League starting in 1992. Deals with Sky Sports, then BT and Amazon, increased interest in the best performing teams in the Premier League.
The competition has gained popularity in the last three decades. As a result, the amount of money coming from broadcasting has also increased. Liverpool, which won the league title in the 2019/20 season, earned more than £ 71 million in television revenue. Runners-up Manchester City received £ 69 million and Manchester United, third, received £ 68 million.
Without viewer interest in these teams, the amount of television revenue would drop substantially. By comparison, the bottom side of the 2019/20 season, Norwich City, received around £ 44 million in TV revenue.
Viewership numbers are driven and dominated by global interest in top performing clubs. Consequently, the more television revenue generated, the more participation each club receives.
Lower sponsorship offers
In the current Premier League season, the Big Six have jersey sponsorship deals that far exceed those of their 14 other competitors.
Manchester United’s deal with Chevrolet is the most lucrative in the league at £ 64 million. Manchester City’s deal with Etihad is worth £ 45 million, while Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool’s sponsorship deals are worth £ 40 million. The Spurs received £ 36 million with AIG.
So there is a huge disparity between the remaining 14 teams. The most lucrative sponsorship outside of the top six is West Ham’s £ 10 million deal with Betway, more than a third less compared to Spurs’ revenue and six times lower than United’s revenue from Chevrolet.
Looking beyond the Big Six, Brighton & Hove Albion has the lowest endorsement deal with American Express. The South Coast club received just £ 1.5 million from its AMEX sponsorship.
All the revenue generated by the best clubs has a massive impact on the Premier League, English Football League and out-of-league football in England. If the Big Six clubs were to withdraw from the Premier League, there would be less interest from the global audience in the English game, leaving the clubs with less income at all levels. While the income from streaming and sponsorship is uneven, money taken by top clubs somehow trickles down to the remaining 14 clubs in the top league and beyond.