The table below highlights the top 10 clubs based on average spending on player salaries in 2015-2016, as well as all soccer clubs included in the Top 50.
There has been a considerable shake up in this year’s rankings compared with last years, specifically the ascendancy of NBA teams up the rankings at the expense of (mostly) football teams. Last year, eight of the top ten spenders on average salaries per player were football teams, with each of the top four spots claimed by football teams. This year, NBA teams dominate the rankings with six of the top ten spending teams playing in the league.
Two key events have had a major impact on the global sports salaries landscape: A new TV deal in the NBA and Brexit. In 2016, the NBA signed off on a new nine-year $24 billion TV deal that has come into effect for the 2016-17 season. The new deal is worth $2.6bn a year, or 180 per cent more than the last deal, per year. On average, each NBA player is earning $2 million more this year compared with last year. This injection of cash has resulted in the NBA teams breaking the record for the highest ever paid player twice over the summer. Firstly, James Harden signed a four year $118 million contract with the Houston Rockets. Following this, the Golden State Warriors rewarded Steph Curry for his performances over their title winning season with a five year $201 million contract.
The second major event which has transformed the global salary landscape is Brexit. Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU the pound has fallen substantially relative to the dollar. The GSSS notes “at points during the lifetime of this survey’s existence a pound has been worth as much as $1.70, or considered another way, £10m has been worth as much as $17m, while $10m has been worth as little as £5.88m. In recent months a pound has been worth as little as $1.22, or alternatively, £10m has been worth as little as just over $12m as $10m has been worth as much as £8.2m”. As such, in previous editions of the survey, the ranking of Premier League clubs spending on salaries was inflated compared to sports teams in the United States based on the strength of the pound to the dollar.