Premier League: Wage Spend vs League Position

Premier League: Wage Spend vs League Position

With the Premier League season almost at a conclusion, it has certainly been a campaign of surprises and unexpected results. True, Manchester City are Champions once more, and on the cusp of a remarkable treble, with the addition of Erling Haaland to the Pep Guardiola juggernaut turning the Citizens into an irresistible force.

Elsewhere, however, the finishing positions of the side have been a little more unpredictable. Against expectations, Arsenal were the side to emerge as the biggest challengers to the defending champions, whilst Newcastle have shaken up the established order earlier than anticipated by qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in two decades, and, of course, Brighton are in Europe for the first time in their history. At the other end of the table, all three newly promoted sides have survived, leaving the relative big guns of Everton, Leeds United and 2016 Premier League Champions Leicester City in a final-day battle to beat the drop.

With the dust on a thrilling season beginning to settle, now seems an opportune time to examine the relationship between finishing position and wage spend. Is it simply a case of money buying success? Or is there more to it? Here we take a closer look, using data presented by

Which Club Spends the Most on Wages?

Which Premier league teams Spends the Most on Wages?

No real surprises at the top of the spending list, with the traditional big six filling the top six positions in the Annual Wage Bill table. However, of the top four big-spenders, only the two Manchester clubs have backed up that spending with Champions League qualification – Liverpool narrowly misses out, whilst Chelsea have failed to achieve this objective in truly spectacular style. Wage spend has also proved to be a poor relegation predictor. Two of the lowest spenders have comfortably avoided the drop and Leeds still have an outside chance of doing so on the final day.

Top 3 Overachievers

  • Brighton - The Seagulls have threatened this type of result for a number of years now, and under manager of the year candidate, Roberto Di Zerbi, finally delivered - at long last converting their excellent overall stats into goals and results. Using the Wage Spend table as a guide, Brighton ought to have been relegation contenders – instead, they qualified for Europe. Despite the departures of Graham Potter and Dan Ashworth, the famed Brighton model appears to be going from strength to strength.
  • Brentford - Brentford may not have the tangible reward of a European position, but the performance of the Bees is almost as noteworthy. Despite boasting the lowest wage bill in the division, Thomas Franks's men were never in danger and were in the European race themselves until a dip over the closing months.
  • Newcastle United - The most headline-grabbing success story of the season is Eddie Howe’s resurgent Magpies outfit. Much is made of the club simply buying success, but that accusation isn’t really backed up by the stats. True, the North East Club have brought in players, but they still sit only tenth in the Wage Bill Table, suggesting that much of the success should be attributed to the excellent work of Howe and his coaching staff.

Foxes and Blues Perform Way Below Expectations

  • Leicester City - It has been some fall from grace for the biggest shock winners in the history of the Premier League who are now heavily odds on to be playing in the Championship next season – despite boasting the eighth highest wage bill in the league. Given the drop in income which relegation would bring, expect the Foxes to offload many of their high-earning stars in the summer.
  • Chelsea - The implosion of Todd Boehly’s “kitchen-sink” approach to the transfer market has been one of the most pronounced failures of the season. To finish only 10 points clear of the relegation zone, but 26 adrift of Champions League qualification represents a huge backward step for a club that some were touting as title challengers. On the plus side, many of the new acquisitions have youth on their side and may yet come good – most likely under the guidance of Mauricio Pocchetino.

Bees the Pounds per Point Kings

The above table attempts to rank the sides in terms of their ability to obtain maximum value from the playing squad at their disposal. No surprise that Brentford and Brighton again top the table. Overall, the Bees have spent approximately 15 times less per point than bottom-placed Chelsea – and still managed to finish well clear of the Blues.

Other standout results include Leeds, who, despite battling relegation have done relatively well in terms of their overall wage bill. Manchester United, meanwhile, now appear to be back on the right track, but they have certainly paid the price to do so – spending over £1m more per point than their fellow top four sides.

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