Despite revenues of £3.6bn - up 9% from 2014/15 (£3.4bn) - a combination of increased wage costs, increased amortisation charges and record transfer spending, meant the clubs lost money, according to a report from Deloitte.
Wages alone increased by 12% to £2.3bn, while most of the traditional top six clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs – have in recent years installed new managers, which has meant a spending spree to reshape their squads.
The unlikely victory of Leicester City last year has also forced the larger clubs’ hands in the transfer market.
Deloitte, however, expects the league’s new three-year broadcast rights deal to see a return to record profits in the 2016/17 season.
“We have already seen to some extent the impact of the current broadcast rights deal, with clubs’ combined transfer expenditure over the course of the 2016/17 season reaching almost £1.4bn – eclipsing the previous record set in 2015/16 by one-third and far exceeding any other league in world football,” said Adam Bull, senior consultant in the sports business group at Deloitte.
The two Manchester clubs drove half of the increase in total revenue alone. Manchester United’s soaring revenues – which increased by 30% to £515m, driven by various commercial deals – and City’s boost from its run to the Champions League semi final.
While the Premier League continues to be a cash cow, the rest of the UK’s football league is in a more worrying financial state. A recent report from BDO found that 23% of the Championship and 40% of the Scottish Premiership clubs said their finances need attention or are a case for grave concern.
A separate study by KPMG found that Premier League clubs offer fans the least value for money in ticket prices, with Arsenal the worst offender.