Is the English Premier League the European Super League already?


Traditionally one of the big European powerhouses, England are cementing their status as the heavyweights of the football industry, especially in recent years when the third all-English UEFA Champions League final in four years was just an extra-time away. 

In our latest club valuation report of Europe’s 32 most prominent football clubs based on their Enterprise Value (EV), the English Premier League (EPL) is represented by a record number of 10 clubs. Moreover, those 10 clubs have the highest average EV per club (over EUR 1.5 bn) and also make up 42% of the 32 clubs’ total EV. 

What is pushing English clubs towards increased continental glory is their success on the financial side. In this analysis, we have compared the off-pitch performance of the English Premier League to its Big5-league peers, as well as to the Portuguese Primeira Liga and the Dutch Eredivisie, two European leagues just outside the top five elite leagues, accentuating the supremacy of the EPL even more.    

In the latest, 2020/21 season, for which almost all league level information is available at the time of writing (with the exception of one EPL club, two clubs from the Serie A and three from the Portuguese Primeira Liga), the Premier League clubs’ average operating revenues of EUR 284m put them comfortably at the top, with aggregate total operating revenues far above EUR 5 billion. That average EUR 284m revenue is over ten times more than the EUR 26m average of the clubs in the Dutch top tier.

While Premier League clubs enjoy advantages in terms of matchday revenues to some extent and even larger benefits from their greater commercial appeal stemming from many factors, including the brand’s global power, what really sets the EPL apart are highly remunerative broadcasting agreements. Unlike other leagues that all agreed to discounted deals during their domestic TV rights negotiations, the Premier League successfully locked in their current domestic package without any value loss and increased their compensation from international broadcasting, surpassing income generated from national broadcasters for the first time. 

Consequently, it is by no surprise that the top 10 clubs by total income in the 2020/21 season include five of the EPL’s big six clubs, with Arsenal being 11th. 

The financial dominance of English clubs is further demonstrated when looking at the increasing revenue gap existing amongst the top five English clubs by revenue versus the top five clubs in LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1 in the past 10 years, as evident from the chart below. 

The health crisis also revealed the greater strength and resilience of the Premier League on the transfer market, as the volume of English first division clubs’ transactions did not significantly change compared to pre-COVID times. Such resilience is further demonstrated by an examination of Football Benchmark’s player market values as at April 2022, which shows that the average squad market value of Premier League clubs amounted to EUR 470m with LaLiga lagging far behind at EUR 268m. At club level, the three most valuable squads were all English, namely those of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. Regarding individual valuations, almost half of the 50 most valuable players (23) play in a Premier League club.

The EPL also boast tremendous popularity globally. Considering global audiences on the six social media platforms that are currently featured in our Social Media Analytics tool (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Weibo, TikTok and YouTube), the Premier League once again tops the ranking. The gap here, however, is smaller to second-placed Spanish LaLIga, as the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona top clubs’ popularity on these channels with total followers of over 350 million and 330 million, respectively. The most popular EPL side, Manchester United have over 201 million followers.