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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have your say on football financials here with this brilliant article kicking off the thread....



Telegraph


Michel Platini clamps down on clubs in debt

Michel Platini has two messages to impart to the all-conquering English as Chelsea and Manchester United prepare for the season's final collision in Moscow. One is to the fans: the Uefa president trusts that, having been afforded the privilege of using their match tickets as visas, they will create a carnival atmosphere (to which they might reply that being made to trudge to Russia is provocation enough to sulk).

The other is infinitely more significant and welcome. Platini is determined to do something about the economic jungle that, while allowing England's top clubs to build the most glamorous and successful squads in Europe, leaves our game vulnerable to opportunist owners from abroad.

When Platini spoke to me in Manchester last week, he was at pains to stress there was nothing anti-English in the long campaign he envisaged against debt, an enemy of footballing fairness once described by the former Uefa chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson as "economic doping".

And in truth Platini would be doing the English football community a massive favour if his attempts to clip the wings of the foreigners who have found it such succulent prey - for example Roman Abramovich, who could bankrupt Chelsea by withdrawing a mere fraction of his investment, and the Glazers with their wad of largely borrowed dollars at United - are given the political support they need from both football federations and governments across Europe.

More and more, debt can be seen as one of football's worst influences. It creeps up while our eyes are closed, as I was reminded a few years ago after Dundee, the club dearest to my heart, reached the Scottish League Cup final. We had players such as Claudio Caniggia, the Argentine World Cup finalist, whose wages an average home attendance of about 4,000 clearly could not pay. Later the club nearly folded and, though relegation ensued, it was far less shameful than the realisation that our trip to Hampden Park had been fraudulent in the sense that Dundee had got there by overcoming rivals whose books were balanced. The reflection that Rangers, who beat us, were even deeper in debt seemed irrelevant. That season no longer lives in the memory because, in effect, we cheated.

Platini, asked if the word could be used in the context of today's English dominance (not wholly unprecedented, for less than a decade ago Real Madrid were scaling Europe's heights on borrowed money) puffed his cheeks and replied that it might be a little strong. "There have always been some clubs, and some countries, with more money at their disposal than others," he said, "and I have no problem with that. The problem occurs when the clubs who run up huge debts always win - and that we must stop. Some clubs, and some leagues, have asked us to. We are preparing a plan that will encourage clubs to reduce their debts and give us clear, clean competition."

The initiative to which he referred can be assumed to have come from countries such as France, which Platini most gloriously represented in the European Championship of 1984, and Germany, which also has strict rules against debt; it is understood that Bayern Munich's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, against whom Platini played at the game's highest levels, has complained that his club, four times European champions, now feel they are fighting rivals from England, and to an extent Spain and Italy, with one hand tied behind their back. The issue was aired in Manchester at a meeting of Uefa's Professional Football Strategy Council, a body bringing together clubs, leagues, federations and players which was Platini's brainchild when he took over from Lennart Johansson last year.

Club Value(£m)/Debt(£m)
Man United 919/551
Real Madrid 656/177
Arsenal 612/263
Liverpool 536/348
Bayern Munich 468/0
AC Milan 407/0
Barcelona 400/28
Chelsea 390/0
Juventus 260/13
Schalke 240/115

If the strategy council resolves to eradicate debt, Uefa's executive committee will endorse it and only clubs with balanced books will be licensed to play in the European competitions. It is difficult to imagine any sensible criteria which - if we hypothetically apply them to the here and now - would not oblige Abramovich to write off at least £500 million of his fortune and the Glazers to repay the American banks.

So there are going to be some interesting discussions with the Premier League. Each of the top four has a debt that would have been inconceivable even in 1992, when it began. If you add them together, you have a figure well over £1 billion - equivalent to at least two years' television revenue for all 20 clubs. Arsenal, to their credit, are the odd man out in that Arsene Wenger balances the footballing books and their debt is entirely related to the new stadium; Liverpool, like United once-exemplary, are also now owned by Americans and heavily in debt to banks. Yet the strength of their squads obliges others to spend in an effort to keep up. Even Newcastle, owned by the extremely rich Mike Ashley, struggle to compete, as Kevin Keegan's anguished cries the other day emphasised. It is no way to run a league and Platini said: "My concern is for football's image. I have to defend the values of the game against a relatively small number of people whose philosophy I do not share.

"Do not misunderstand. I love English football - except this philosophy of a few. It's not my business to solve the problem of ownership in your game. All I will say is that I was at Juventus when Mr Agnelli [the late Gianni Agnelli, head of Fiat and Juventus patron] was in charge. He was a fan. He worked for Turin and for Italy. He loved his football club and the community that surrounded it. Now let me put this politely. If I were sure that these Americans had come to Manchester and Liverpool with the intention of helping young people to play football so that one day some of them could represent their local clubs, I'd be very happy." He smiled. ''But I am not sure."

Could any Englishman have put it better? Could any Englishman, for that matter, have more swiftly and forcefully opposed the Premier League's plan for a 39th fixture played overseas? Platini, you may recall, dismissed it as ''a joke". He remains concerned about moneyed mavericks ''going over the head of Uefa" and to this end will work alongside the European politicians already taking an interest in the game's difficulties with globalisation. ''We will need laws, regular laws, to become transparent and [Platini rapped his knuckles on the table] honest. But you can be sure we have the courage to see this through. Licensing will come and, when it does, no longer will clubs be able to win through debt.

No doubt we will give them two or three years to get their affairs in order - we cannot just cut off their heads, because football has lived without rules and laws for a long time and they must be allowed to adjust - but licensing will come and maybe, when the politicians can see we have clear and clean competition, they won't come knocking on our door every day."

Asked if, in the meantime, England's rich men would monopolise the Champions League, Platini said: ''No. Football is not so rational. It's like saying England did not qualify for Euro 2008 because there are so many foreigners in their league. It's not as simple as that. Yes, there is a lot of money in England. But when I was playing in the 1980s there were always English clubs in the final - Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool."

[To be continued....]
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
[... continued from above.]

Until Platini, with a penalty kick, scored the hollow goal that settled the Heysel final of 1985, after which English clubs were banned. ''Today is a special time for English football. But, if Ronaldo or Rooney go to Barcelona or Real Madrid, it could change. If Drogba goes to Milan, it could change. Next year could be different."

One of the joys of this final would be the contrast in styles, said Platini. ''To caricature: one team is in the image of Ronaldo and Rooney, nimble and quick in their movement, and the other Drogba and Ballack, more strong." Vive la difference. But would he rather watch United or Chelsea every week? ''That is a bad question. You know the answer. But I don't care who wins. I just like to watch players and I'll be just as interested in Drogba and Ballack as Ronaldo and Rooney. Naturally I am more interested in forwards than defenders. I do like Rooney.

You know it's the fashion now to have forwards who are very quick, but Rooney is different. He plays with his brain, always looking to bring quicker players like Ronaldo into the game. It's nice to see that. It's also such a pleasant surprise to see the development of Ronaldo. In the past, he could be difficult to play with. Because of his dribbling - it was all over the place. When he got past people, it was OK, but when he lost the ball you feared his team-mates would kill him! The headed goal he scored in the quarter-final in Rome proved he had gone up to another level. He was not just a dribbler - but a fighter."

By now Platini was animated. The administrator had given way to the enthusiast as he went on to talk about Michael Ballack and the others to be in Moscow, even breaking off to wax lyrical about the sadly absent Steven Gerrard, his favourite English player. But it is an affection for the game that nurtured him that will drive the 52-year-old Platini through Europe's corridors of influence over the next few years. The two have to go together and it is just as well for football that one of its most powerful and charismatic figures is so committed to the defence of traditional values.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dynamite said:
No offence versa, but platini at it again moaning, all the world is in debt, he's a total critic of english football, alway's has been, he's not interested at all in the well being of english football, Platini never minded money when he was at Juventus when they were winning everything
Why should there be any offence? I am just putting the thread up for discussion or debate on this particular topic. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Platini's Latest Attack On Top British Pair

Goal.com


Ahead of tonight's Champions League final, Uefa president Michel Platini has launched a new broadside at the Premier League's top two, Manchester United and Cherlsea, who will be contesting Uefa's Moscow showpiece.

Uefa chief Michel Platini has called the success of Champions League finalists Manchester United and Chelsea 'unfair' because the two clubs have run up huge overdrafts in their quest for the major trophies. Platini inisists that makes it unfair
for the other clubs who compete within their means.


Uefa, European football's governing body, is planning to bring in a licensing system that will ban from competition those clubs who do not balance their books.

Platini said: "It's clear the more in debt you are, the greater the chance you have of winning. It's not very ethical for our sport.

''We have to start thinking how we can ensure respect for the clubs who don't have debts and who never win any more because they don't have these budgets."

Chelsea have reported a loss of more than £100million in each year that Roman Abramovich has been the club's owner, while United have debts close to £800million.



Another round of volleys from Platini just before the CL Final!

Is he nobly wanting to help out to wipe off the debts of clubs which can't be a bad thing in itself or is he getting personal and green-eyed? The timing does unwittingly raise suspicion, isn't it?

And the licensing system Uefa has in mind is most intimidating, given the size of our debts - how can we ever qualify? Lol. But what justification or rationale do Uefa have to actually impose the ban on teams who can't balance their books no matter how well-meaning they are? What the hell is that all about?!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Revenue grows for English clubs but so does debt

Are foreign owners just treating/trading the hugly popular football clubs in England as a piece of meat? Deloitte seems to think so and I am inclined to believe them...


The Independent
By Nick Harris, Thursday, 29 May 2008

English football, driven by the Premier League's biggest clubs, remains the highest grossing single sector of the world game, according to an annual review, published today, but renewed and rampant wage inflation has failed to turn that success into profit in most cases.

Deloitte's analysis of club accounts from the 2006-07 season, the most recent available, shows that the Premier League's 20 clubs grossed £1.53bn between them (up 11 per cent), but wages grew by 13 per cent to £1.4bn, more than twice the figure in the top flights of Spain, Germany or Italy.

"A normal business culture of maximising profitability does not appear to be happening at the Premier League clubs," said Dan Jones, a partner in Deloitte's Sports Business Group. "A shared will by all the clubs to limit wages growth would deliver increased profitability for all, but the pursuit of on-pitch success, and the intense competitive desire to gain an edge, means clubs continue to invest heavily in their playing squads and bid the market up, to the detriment of all clubs' finances and the benefit of players and their agents."

Despite Deloitte being the auditor and accountant to the Premier League as an organisation and to numerous individual clubs, the firm has long stressed its impartiality in reporting football finances. That said, its reviews have often had a "cheerleader" tone, so the note of warning in this year's report is even more resonant.

Jones notes that lack of profitability is ongoing even though there have been two developments in the game that "we thought had the potential to stem the flow of red ink". One is that the Premier League's 20 clubs now collectively gross €1bn (£780m) more than their nearest rivals, yet still can't feed much of it to the bottom line. Deloitte had also anticipated that profit-hungry foreign investors would have squeezed greater financial rewards.

In fact, Jones says: "While we are not witnessing the levels of expenditure which would raise fundamental concerns for the medium- and long-term health of the clubs, we do appear to be seeing a continuation of the tendency to spend all available revenue to 'strengthen the squad'.

"It may be the case that owners see their clubs delivering only minimal regular returns with a real return only emerging when the club changes hands."

In Germany, Bundesliga clubs are not only more profitable than their English counterparts – by a factor of three – but they also attract the biggest crowds in Europe, but Jones added: "Disappointingly for German fans, the price of Bundesliga clubs' good financial performance seems to be a struggle to reach the latter stages of European club competition in recent years."

English clubs are far from struggling in Europe, but debt remains a problem. Deloitte say the Premier League's 20 clubs had collective debts of £2.469bn in 2006-07, and this has grown. The wealth in English football is concentrated within a narrow band of clubs. Revenues across all of England's 92 clubs in the review period was more than £2bn for the first time, but £1.53bn of this came from the Premier League, and approaching £1bn of that came from just six clubs: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle.

Cash facts

* Premier League overall revenues increased in 2006-7 by 11 per cent to £1.53bn.

* Eight Premier clubs (16 in 2005-6) had operating profits: Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Newcastle Utd, Reading, Sheffield Utd, Watford.

* Championship aggregate operating losses grew from £53m to £75m.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Deloitte football finance review: Club-by-club Premier League analysis

Telegraph
By Sandy Macaskill, 29/05/2008



What the Deloitte Annual Reviw of Football Finance means for the top four and the rest of the Premier League.

1. Manchester United

The Glazers bought United for £777 million in May 2005, and at the end of the 2006/07 season they were £453 million in debt from bank borrowings - over half of the entire Premier League's total borrowings from banks - and £152 million in debt from other loans.

Although they have regained their Premier League crown, they have done so while spending less than Chelsea on wages.

They did record an eight per cent increase in wage payments between 05/06 and 06/07 but that increase was matched or exceeded by 14 of the other Premier League clubs during the same period.

And while their wages increased, their revenue has grown with it. In fact, their absolute growth in revenue over wage surplus was second only to Arsenal.

United are ranked above the benchmark "comfort level" for effective cost management, which is calculated by comparing wages to turnover ratio - the key performance indicator of a club's welfare. They are second only to Tottenham in this regard.

They have the second highest net assets in the League, after Arsenal, with £80 million assets, and they earn the most of all English clubs with £32 million generated through television deals.

They are predicted as having the highest operating profit over the next five years with an operating profit of £239.5 million. United are also second in the list of stadium utilisation for the 2007/08 season with an average turnout of 99.4 per cent of the 75,691 capacity.

While the club had a pre-tax loss of £62,575 in 2007, United earn more from two matches at Old Trafford than Wigan Athletic reap from an entire season of home games.


2. Chelsea

Chelsea have recorded the highest wage bill in the Premier League, hiking their player salaries by 17 per cent between 2005/06 and 2006/07.

The club also have the biggest debt. At the end of the 2006/07 season Chelsea had a net borrowing of £620 million, with a personal loan of £90 million from Roman Abramovich in that season alone, which brought his total investment in the club to £575 million and offset the club's losses after tax of £76 million.

Chelsea were ranked ninth in their stadium utilisation (bums on seats) this season, although it had improved from the previous season. Chelsea did bring in the second highest television payments - £30m for the 2006/07 season.


3. Arsenal

Arsenal recorded an eight per cent increase in their wage outgoings between 2005/06 and 2006/07, although in that season they had the highest surplus of cash after wages had been deducted from the club's revenue.

Arsenal also had the best stadium utilisation this season with 99.5 per cent of their 60,054 capacity used. It is just as well: Arsenal were the major stadium investors in 2006/07 with £34.2 million, while their pricing strategy this season did not increase on the previous one.

But the club have the third highest debt. At the end of 2006/07 their net borrowings stood at £268 million, with the second highest loans balances in the country. They are required to pay £19 million in net interest costs, but that is dealt with comfortably by revenues (match-day revenue doubled to £91 million in 2006/07 alone) generated by the move to the Emirates Stadium.

Also, by refinancing a £260 million loan, the club has reduced its annual debt service cost from £32 million to £20 million per annum. Moreover, the club is predicted to have an operating profit of £103.9 million over the next five years - the second highest in the country. Arsenal also lead Manchester United as the club with the most assets, put at £113 million at the end of the 2006/07 season.

Finally, according to 2006/07 figures, they bring in the third largest amount of money through television rights - £29 million.


4. Liverpool

As of summer 2007, Liverpool had a debt of £43 million in bank borrowings, and £13 million in other loans, although over the next five years they have a predicted operating profit of £98.4 million, the fourth highest in the country.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr bought Liverpool in March 2007 for £218.9 million but burdened the club with debt topping £105 million when their loan was refinanced in January. And the club's 13 per cent increase in wages from 2005/06 to 2006/07 has not been converted into greater success on the pitch in the Premier League.

However, the club were listed as having £20 million net assets before the beginning of last season, and had the third highest stadium utilisation – 98.8 per cent of their 44,721 capacity. Furthermore, they brought in £28 million through television money in 2006/07.


5. Everton: Failed to raise enough revenue to cancel out their wage bill during 2006/07, and in fact were left with a deficit of £8.1 million, despite finishing sixth in the league and being well below the Premiership wage average. The club was also below the league average for stadium utilisation last season.

6. Aston Villa: Finished the 2006/07 season with the fifth highest assets in the country (£35 million) and increased their home match attendances to 94.8 per cent of their 40,375 capacity stadium. They were also one of the top six investors in facilities in that season, injecting £9.9 million. However, their wage expenditure exceeded the income generated from revenue, leaving them £1.2 million in deficit. The club also recorded £63 million of debt in the summer of 2007.

7. Blackburn: While Rovers have £21 million net assets, they were approaching the "danger level" after the 2006/07 season in their cost management, with 85 per cent wages to turnover.

8. Portsmouth: Portsmouth utilised 97.9 per cent of their 19,905 capacity stadium in the last season, although they are critically close to Deloitte's "danger level" by spending large amounts on their wage bill, without being able to support it with revenues.

9. Man City: City have the third highest net assets in the Premier League - £57 million at the end of the 2006/07 season, although they are £103 million in debt. However, they are in a comfortable position regarding their wage to revenue ratio.

10. West Ham: West Ham have £142 million of debt and, along with Newcastle, were the most notable under achiever with regards to wages in 2006/07. Their league position was 15, while they were they were outspent on wages by only five other clubs. This supports the view that the correlation between wages and on-pitch performance is weaker outside those clubs in the top four, and the relegation zone.

11. Tottenham Spurs are ranked top in the country for effective cost management, calculated by the key performance indicator wages to turnover ratio, and they generated £27 million from television rights in 2006/07 - fifth highest in the Premier League. They come third in the league in terms of surplus cash when wages have been deducted from their revenue, and also third on the predicted five year operating profit table with £70.2 million, as well as having the fourth highest stadium utilisation with 98.4 per cent of White Hart Lane's 35,699 capacity being filled on average. Finally, they had £49 million in net assets as of the end of the 2006/07 season.

12. Newcastle: Like West Ham, have generally under achieved in the league despite spending vast sums of money on wages. They finished the 2006/07 season 13th in the league, yet they were the fifth highest club when it came to player salaries. They also have £69 million of debt.

13. Middlesbrough: Boro were £85 million in debt at the end of the 2006/07 season, and are dangerously close to over-extending themselves with regards to wages.

14. Wigan: Sustained a £14 million deficit in 2007 as their revenue did not match their wages even closely. They are squarely in the "danger level" of cost management.

15. Sunderland: Won the Championship in 2006/07 with the highest wage bill in the league - a 37 per cent increase on the previous year, but look unlikely to be able to generate enough revenue from match-days as they have an average of just 89 per cent of their stadium capacity filled throughout the season.

16. Bolton: Left with a £6 million deficit thanks to their wage bill in 2006/07, although they finished seventh in the league.

17. Fulham: Increased their average attendances to 93.4 percent of their 23,670 capacity stadium last season, but as of summer 2007 were £182 million in debt. The club spent £4.6 million on facilities in 2006/07, and were left with a £2.8 million deficit in their revenue after paying player salaries.

18. Reading: The most drastic wage increase in the Premier League was recorded by Reading, who hiked their wage bill by 109 per cent between 2005 and 2007. They also spent £11 million on their stadium and facilities.

19. Birmingham: Runners-up in the Championship during the 2006/07 season when they were promoted with the second highest wage bill in the division - a 21 per cent increase on the previous year.

20. Derby County: £30 million in debt after the 2006/07 season, and were 125 per cent for cost effective management (wages/turnover comparison). Fifty-five per cent is considered safe, 100 "dangerous".
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
United retain 'most valuable' title - Yahoo! Eurosport UK

Manchester United have held on to their position as the world's most valuable sports team, according to Forbes magazine.

The respected American business publication valued the Premier League champions at $1.87 billion (£1.14bn) in April, the highest figure in sport.

Forbes has now reassessed its valuations of American football teams, with NFL top dogs the Dallas Cowboys unable to dislodge United from the top spot.

The Cowboys's annual increase of 2 per cent means they are now worth $1.65bn (£1.01bn), meaning they stay second overall.

The new top 10 of sport's rich list contains six NFL teams, three football teams and the New York Yankees baseball team.

Real Madrid are football's second most valuable team, while, perhaps surprisingly, football's third entry in the overall top 10.

Liverpool and Bayern Munich are the only other sides valued at over $1bn (£612m).

Forbes's 10 most valuable sports teams

1 - Manchester United - $1.870bn (£1.144bn)

2 - Dallas Cowboys - $1.650bn (£1.009bn)

3 - Washington Redskins - $1.550bn (£948m)

4 - New York Yankees - $1.500bn (£918m)

5 - New England Patriots - $1.361bn (£833m)

6 - Real Madrid - $1.353bn (£828m)

7 - Arsenal - $1.200bn (£734m)

8 - New York Giants - $1.183bn (£724m)

9 - New York Jets - $1.170bn (£716m)

10 - Houston Texans - $1.150bn (£704m)
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Intriguing...

Glazer bank balance swells by £400 million - FourFourTwo

Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer has seen his bank balance swell by £400 million over the past 10 months.

FourFourTwo.com’s Football Rich List 2009/10, revealed today, shows that the American has wealth estimated to be in the region of £1.5 billion, up from £1.1 billion at the start of the year – figures that see him placed seventh place in the list.


The 81-year-old bought out the Premier League giants between 2003 and 2005, although the takeover was opposed by a large number of United fans, who were unhappy with the debt being burdened upon the club and felt the club should remain in the hands of the fans, rather than overseas investors.

Glazer is certainly more popular with fans of his other team, NFL side Tampa Bay Buccaneers, than those of United.

The Floridian side have enjoyed a marked improvement in fortunes since Glazer’s arrival in 1995 – with the New Yorker campaigning for the local government to build the team a state-of-the-art stadium, and seeing the team win their first ever Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders in 2003.

The franchise was valued at $963 million by Forbes Magazine in 2007.

The hefty profit has come from his investments in food, marine protein, broadcasting, health care, property, banking, natural gas and oil and the Internet, rather than his sporting endeavours – although recouping £80 million from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid this summer wouldn’t have done the balance sheet any harm.

Despite that record-breaking sale, United spent just £19 million on new players this summer.

But with Glazer making big profits over the past 12 months, it could well be that he hands Sir Alex Ferguson further funds in the January transfer window.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
For those interested to dig further into the finances of others to gasp or scorn... :D

Including..

LIST The 100 richest people in British football
NEWS Mittal replaces Sheikh Mansour on top of Rich List
BLOG Who's this Lakshmi Mittal bloke?
NEWS Abramovich makes his Chelsea investment back in nine months flat
NEWS Liverpool's joint investors now have something else to squabble over
BLOG How the Rich List is calculated
BLOG Rooney and Glazer the young and old of Rich List
NEWS Owen and Rooney neck-and-neck behind Becks
LIST The 20 richest players in Britain
GALLERY The top 20 players in pictures
NEWS Fabio Capello named wealthiest manager
LIST The 10 richest managers in Britain
GALLERY The top 10 managers in pictures

How we count the beans - FourFourTwo's Inside Track - FourFourTwo
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Manchester Derby Will Be the Most Expensive Game in History - WSJ.com

Saturday's soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City of the English Premier League, a game known as the "Manchester Derby," is likely to be played in the sort of bleak and drizzly weather conditions one might expect.

But this won't be just another regularly-scheduled whistle stop on the British soccer calendar. It will be the richest match played in any sport, at any time, anywhere on the planet Earth.

According to analyst estimates, team statements and media reports, the players on the field and on the two benches in the Manchester Derby will have cost their teams roughly $850 million to acquire, or about as much as NASA spent to refurbish the Hubble Telescope.

Those numbers should prove comforting to baseball fans who are worried about the profligacy of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. When those teams meet, there's only about $380 million in player investments on display. In pro football, the NFL record belongs to the free-spending Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, who met twice this season. But the total only came to about $350 million.

Even Spain's two notoriously extravagant teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona—which are the two biggest soccer clubs in the world by revenues—fall short in this arena when they play one another. While Madrid's player investments are on par with the top English clubs, it's not scheduled to play any of them this season. Barcelona still draws many of its players from its youth development program, which greatly reduces the amount of money it takes to assemble a team.

The Derby's reign at the top of the money pile won't last long. Next month's match between Manchester City and Chelsea will shoot past it to set a new combined record of about $900 million. By the time Manchester United and Chelsea (combined player investment: over $800 million) square off in two upcoming matches this season, the Derby will have fallen to fourth-place on the all-time list.

These records reflect a wave of spending by English clubs this year during the recently completed period known as the "transfer window," when teams in the EPL can juggle their rosters. Unlike North American team sports, soccer clubs don't just acquire players for the cost of their salaries. They're also expected to pay the player's current club an additional "transfer fee."

These payments, which are usually many multiples above what the player will earn, have increased dramatically at the high end in recent years. For instance, Chelsea spent $80 million during last month's transfer window for Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Saturday, Manchester City will show off Edin Dzeko, the Bosnian striker the team acquired last month for $44 million.

These financial records may not be broken any time soon. Beginning next season, the first effects of European soccer's new rules on spending, known as the Financial Fair Play regulations, will ripple through the free-spending front offices of the world's best-known clubs. The rules will largely prohibit clubs from spending more than they earn in revenue.

While the regulations won't be enforced until the 2013-2014 season, the accounting process will begin next season, with the likely result that the clubs that have leapfrogged to the fore by shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire star players will be forced to curb spending.

"It will have to affect their behavior," says Dan Jones, who leads the Sports Business Group for Deloitte, the publisher of two annual reports on international soccer finances. "For the clubs that want to participate in European competitions, they will have to bring things back into line and break even."

Representatives for Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea did not return messages seeking comment.

While these three Premier League teams (obviously) rank near the top among all international club teams in spending, they may not be able to generate enough revenue to sustain those levels under the new rules. Among all international clubs, Manchester United ranks No. 3 by revenues, Chelsea is No. 6 and Manchester City No. 11 according the to the latest Deloitte Football Money League report, released Thursday. Manchester City only cracked the top 20 for the first time last year.

Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, and Manchester City's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan have used their own personal fortunes to invest in improving their teams.

Under the new system implemented by UEFA, European soccer's governing body, "the drive will be to generate more revenue from your local market to ... spend on players," said Rob Tilliss, principal at InnerCircle Sports. "The rules will create stability and make it punitive to overspend on players beyond your means."

For now, though, fans of runaway sports profligacy (you know who you are!) will have plenty to cheer about.
 
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