Premier League: New figures show that spending is still on a high

English football is no stranger to financial meltdowns, and new figures published by the Guardian newspaper this week show that clubs are not afraid to spend their cash wildly.

In recent years we have seen a number of big clubs docked points for going so far in debt that their owners decide to put them in administration rather than bail them out again.

Leeds United went from being Champions League semi-finalists in 2001 to relegation to League One (England’s third tier) in 2007 thanks to financial irresponsibility.

Portsmouth have had an equally impressive decline in recent years, from playing in the Premier League in 2009 to being in the bottom three of League Two (fourth tier) in 2014, via several bankruptcies.

The problem is that football worldwide is stuck in a vicious circle of money and the chasing of success.

Football club owners think that by spending money they will buy success, and with success comes more money to spend and more success will follow.

In many cases that can be seen as true. Just look at Chelsea.

Before Russian oil baron Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, Chelsea were your typical mid-table Premier League side who rarely threatened to challenge for the title.

Abramovich set about spending on an unprecedented scale in order to win the Premier League and, ultimately, the Champions League.

It took just two years to win the league, but the Russian had to wait until 2012 to see the side that he has spent nearly £2bn ($3.4bn) on lift Europe’s biggest prize.

This success also bought Chelsea their first profit-making season under the Abramovich, netting a cool £1.4m ($2.4m), before reverting back to the norm with a £56m ($94.5m) loss last season.

At least Chelsea, however, have experienced some success for all of the millions that they have spent. Other chairmen have not seen their cash converted into trophies.

Most recently, with the figures published this week, we can see that West London side Queens Park Rangers (QPR) had the seventh highest wage bill in the Premier League last year.

Such expenditure did not quite work out for their owner, Tony Fernandes, with his side finishing rock bottom of the Premier League with just 25 points, ensuring relegation to the Championship.

Big money signings such as Christopher Samba, Loic Remy, Esteban Granero and Stephane Mbia bumped up the wage bill but showed so little interest in actually helping their side to win matches it was painful to watch.

The most incredible statistic is that QPR spent more on wages last season, £78m ($131m), than this season’s Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid.

While QPR’s  bill pales in comparison to Manchester City’s £233m ($393m), when this figure is compared to QPR’s annual turnover we can see just how much the club wanted to succeed.

Rangers were the only team in the Premier League to spend more on wages than they earned in revenue during the same period.

With their wage bill totalling 128% of their annual turnover, QPR set themselves up with an unsustainable financial structure, which they have continued with to some extent in the lower division this season.

[This week's Premier League talking points]

Many chairmen in the Premier League are now falling foul of the ‘Icarus Effect’ of flying too close to the sun with their financial outlays.

With new foreign investment comes the promise of world class players, spectacular performances and more trophies than you can shake a stick at.

Cardiff City, Fulham, and Hull City are just three teams who have been bought by non-British businessmen over the last season or two.

And with Cardiff and Fulham sitting in the Premier League relegation zone it appears that money can’t buy you happiness.

Unfortunately nowadays the dream of success is replaced with the reality of a painfully underachieving club, players who are paid so much money that they don’t care if the team wins and an ultimate feeling of disappointment.

One thing is for sure, however: nothing will change in a hurry.

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