REVEALED: Official English football wage figures for the past 25 years

By Alex Miller

and Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

30 October 2011

The amount of money paid to English professional footballers each season since 1984-85 is revealed in detail for the first time today.

Sportingintelligence has obtained an official PFA document showing the average basic weekly wages, division by division, for the past 25 years, with the exception of the top division in the Premier League era. We have those numbers in any case.

The document in its original format can be seen at this link.

A separate story elsewhere on this site takes the data and considers the widening gap between the top division and the rest.

And in the table below we’ve converted the weekly figures to annual pay packets, and in the right-hand section of the table show the annual rate of growth (and more rarely, rate of fall) in footballers’ pay.

The numbers represent basic pay; wages typically increase by 50 to 100 per cent with appearance money and bonuses.

This is the first time ever that detailed official numbers from the players’ union in the English game have entered the public domain.

In 1984-85, according to the PFA’s data, the average basic wage in the First Division – as the top division was then called – was £24,934 a year, or about two and a half times the average working man’s salary. With bonuses, it would have been around £36,000, perhaps more.

In 2009-10, the average basic Premier League wage was £1.16m and the average take-home pay was £1.76m. (Average top-flight take-home pay was the subject of an article on this site earlier this year to mark 50 years since the end of the maximum wage).

The numbers below and the astonishing growth speak for themselves. In the Premier League, double-digit annual growth has been the norm in most years of the competition’s history. The biggest single leap was the 28.52 per cent year-on-year growth between 1996-97 and 1997-98. This was due to a new TV deal kicking in.

TV cash has fueled players’ pay rises in the Premier League era. The first  Premier League deal was over five years (1992-97), then next over four years (1997-2001), and the deals have been three years each since then (2001-04, 2004-07, 2007-10 and 2010-13 currently).

According to the PFA document, the average annual basic salary in the Championship in 2009-10 was £211,068, in League One it was £73,320 and in League Two it was £38,844.

Top division footballers now earn 46 times as much as they did in 1984-85

Those in the Championship earn only 14 times as much as their counterparts.

In League One the figure is six and a half times as much. In League Two the figure is 4.6 times as much.

The average working man earns about three times as much.

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