Championship clubs paying price for chasing the dream

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A leading financial report has revealed that wages for Championship clubs exceeded £500m for the first time in 2013-14, rising by £56m to £518m, representing a 12 per cent increase.

Deloitte’s annual review of football finances for 2013-14 also confirmed the Premier League as the world’s richest, with increased revenue from the current television broadcasting deal helping top-flight clubs significantly rein in wage costs which were 
threatening to spiral out of control.

But it was an altogether different story in the Championship, which will contain six Yorkshire clubs next season – Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday.

Revenue rose for Championship clubs by £54m to £491m in 2013-14 but the wages-to-revenue ratio was at 105 per cent, the second consecutive season a ratio of over 100 per cent and only the third occasion that this has been recorded in English football.

The Championship wages-to-revenue figures contrasted markedly to the Premier League, where the ratio dropped dramatically from 71 per cent to 58 per cent – the lowest level since the 1998-99 season.

Thirteen of the 20 Premier League clubs had wages-to-revenue ratios at 60 per cent or lower – compared to just one the previous year.

Adam Bull, senior consultant in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Championship clubs continue to deliver some alarming financial results.

“Whilst the desire of individual clubs to reach the promised land of the Premier League is understandable, and heightened given the value of the new broadcast deals, the Football League is right to try and ensure this is not at the expense of the long-term sustainability of any club.”

On the positive side, 2014 represented the first calendar year since 1996 in which there were no insolvency events in the Football League, which suggests recently-introduced financial fair play regulations are causing clubs to live within their means.