Football has become more than just a sport; it's a global spectacle with massive financial implications. As the world's most popular sport, it attracts immense wealth, creating millionaire athletes who often earn more in a year than most people do in a lifetime.
The scale of players' earnings in football's top league can be mind-boggling, as can their disparity with our own income.
But who are the country’s highest-earning players, and how long would it take the average person to earn their annual salary?
To find out, here’s Genting Casino’s UK Football Rich List, exploring the earnings of each player in the 2022-23 Premier League and Championship seasons and how these break down per day, hour, minute and second.
The Top-earning Premier League Players in 2022-23
1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Annual earnings: £20.8 million
Time for the average person to earn: 630.3 years
Weekly earnings: £400,000
Time for the average person to earn: 12.1 years
Manchester City midfielder and Belgium captain Kevin De Bruyne currently tops the chart with an annual salary of £20,800,000. This translates to £400,000 weekly, £56,986 daily, £2,374 hourly, £39.57 per minute, and £0.66 per second. It would take an average person about 630.3 years to earn De Bruyne's annual earnings and 12.1 years to earn his weekly earnings.
Widely considered one of the best players of his generation and one of the very best in his position, De Bruyne was part of Manchester City’s treble-winning team this season.
2. Erling Haaland & David de Gea (Manchester City & Manchester United)
Annual earnings: £19.5 million
Time for the average person to earn: 590.9 years
Weekly earnings: £375,000
Time for the average person to earn: 11.4 years
Two players are tied for second place, representing opposite sides of Manchester, playing for Manchester City and United, respectively. Both Erling Haaland and David de Gea earn £19.5 million annually, breaking down to £375,000 weekly, £53,425 daily, £2,226 hourly, £37.10 per minute, and £0.62 per second. The average person would need approximately 590.9 years to earn their annual salary and 11.4 years to match their weekly earnings.
Haaland has already broken countless records despite only spending one season in the Premier League, including the most goals scored by a player in a single Premier League season at 36. However, De Gea’s Premier League career recently ended, leaving Manchester United after 12 years as their number-one goalkeeper.
4. Mohamed Salah & Jadon Sancho (Liverpool & Manchester United)
Annual earnings: £18.2 million
Time for the average person to earn: 551.5 years
Weekly earnings: £350,000
Time for the average person to earn: 10.6 years
Next are two more players who are tied, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho. Both players earn an annual salary of £18.2 million, equating to £350,000 weekly, £49,863 daily, £2,078 hourly, £34.63 per minute, and £0.58 per second. It would take the average person 551.5 years to earn their annual salary and 10.6 years for their weekly earnings.
Salah is considered one of the greatest African players of all time and is Liverpool’s top goalscorer of the Premier League era. However, despite his eye-watering wages, Sancho has had less success in the Premier League, struggling to make an impact at Manchester United.
Which Premier League Teams have the Biggest Wage Bills?
1. Chelsea - £251.2 million
At the top of the list is Chelsea, with a whopping £251.2 million spent on annual salaries, making them the club with the highest wage bill in the Premier League for 2022-23.
This was the club’s first season under new owner Todd Boehly, which saw them sign numerous new players, many on large salaries.
These include Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, who became the club’s two highest-paid players, on £325,000 and £295,000 a week.
Despite this massive outlay on wages, Chelsea struggled on the pitch, finishing outside the top half of the Premier League for the first time in 27 years.
2. Manchester United - £230.2 million
In second place are Manchester United, with a total wage bill of £230.2 million for last season.
Two of the top five highest-paid players in the league played for United this season, David De Gea (£375,000 a week) and Jadon Sancho (£350,000 a week).
United’s spending led to a return to form on the pitch, securing Champions League football for next season and the EFL Cup, their first trophy since 2017.
3. Manchester City - £198 million
Manchester City are known for being big spenders, so it may be surprising that they rank third for their overall wage bill.
Their highest earnings include the league’s two best-paid players, Kevin De Bruyne (£400,000 a week) and Erling Haaland (£375,000 a week).
All of the club’s spending finally landed them the prize they’ve been seeking for several years, the Champions League, which they won alongside the Premier League and FA Cup. This made Man City only the second English team in history to complete the treble.
The Top-earning Championship Players in 2022-23
1. Ismaïla Sarr (Watford)
Annual earnings: £3.3 million
Time for the average person to earn: 99.4 years
Weekly earnings: £63,077
Time for the average person to earn: 1.9 years
Wages in England’s second tier, the EFL Championship, are still astronomical but far less than in the top flight.
At the top of the league is Watford forward Ismaïla Sarr. He earned £3.3 million, a weekly income of £63,077. Sarr's daily earnings stand at £8,986, with an hourly rate of £374, earnings of £6.24 per minute, and £0.10 per second.
Despite this being the second tier, it would still take an average person a staggering 99.4 years to match Sarr's annual earnings and 1.9 years to reach his weekly earnings.
However, it looks like Sarr’s days in England are numbered, as a £15 million move to Marseille has been agreed.
2. Tom Cleverley & Axel Tuanzebe (Watford & Stoke City)
Annual earnings: £2.6 million
Time for the average person to earn: 78.8 years
Weekly earnings: £50,000
Time for the average person to earn: 1.5 years
The second spot on the list is shared by another Watford player, midfielder Tom Cleverley, and Axel Tuanzebe, a defender from Stoke City, on loan from Manchester United. Both players have an annual income of £2,600,000, translating into weekly earnings of £50,000.
Daily, they each earn £7,123, with an hourly wage of £297, earnings of £4.95 per minute, and £0.08 per second. The average person would need 78.8 years to earn their annual income and one and a half years for their weekly earnings.
Cleverley retired at the end of the season due to injury problems, taking up a coaching role at the club, while Tuanzebe was released by his parent club Manchester United at the end of his Stoke loan.
4. Jake Livermore & Zack Steffen (West Bromwich & Middlesbrough)
Annual earnings: £2.4 million
Time for the average person to earn: 72.4 years
Weekly earnings: £45,962
Time for the average person to earn: 1.4 years
Fourth place is also tied, between Jake Livermore, a midfielder from West Bromwich, and Zack Steffen, a goalkeeper from Middlesbrough, on loan from Manchester City.
They both earn £2,390,000 annually, translating to £45,962 weekly. They earn £6,548 daily, £273 hourly, £4.55 per minute, and £0.08 per second. It would take an average person 72.4 years to match their annual earnings and approximately 1.4 years to equal their weekly wage.
Livermore, a former England international, recently signed for Watford after being released by West Brom. Zack Steffen is back with his parent club Manchester City but is also expected to move on.
Which Championship Teams have the Biggest Wage Bills?
1. Watford - £31.3 million
In 2022-23, Watford had the highest wage bill in the Championship, at £31.3 million, less than any team in the Premier League.
Two of the highest earners in the league, Ismaïla Sarr (£3.28 million) and Tom Cleverley (£2.6 million) played their football at Watford last season.
However, despite this significant outlay, the Hornets couldn’t return to the Premier League, finishing in 11th place.
2. Burnley - £29.6 million
Close behind in second is Burnley, who spent £29.6 million on player wages last season.
Unlike Watford, Burnley’s expenditure was much more successful, seeing them promoted back to the Premier League in their first season back in the Championship with seven games remaining, a Championship record. The team also matched the record for the most games won in a row in a Championship season, with ten.
Their highest earners were Ashley Barnes and Josh Brownhill, earning just over £2 million a year and £40,000 a week.
3. Norwich - £26.5 million
In third is another team that spent big to bounce straight back to the Premier League but fell short despite their hefty wage bill. Norwich City paid out £26.5 million in player wages last season but finished in 13th place.
Ben Gibson was their highest-earning player, bringing home an annual salary of just over £2 million, equalling £40,000 weekly.
Annual and weekly earnings figures were sourced from Spotrac for the Premier League and Capology for the Championship, referring to the 2022-23 season. These were then used to calculate the earnings per day, hour, minute and second.
To estimate the time taken for the average person to earn each player’s wage, the median annual earnings for a full-time employee (£33,000) were sourced from the Office for National Statistics’ earnings and hours worked, all employees dataset (ASHE Table 1).
Each player’s annual and weekly earnings were then divided by this figure to estimate the years it would take for the average person to earn them.
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