As a new Premier League season gets underway, the league itself is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Twenty five years ago, the English Premier football league kicked off in England. Fast forward to today, and the EPL has become a global success story worth $6 billion. But is that growth sustainable?
CGTN’s Dan Williams reports from London.
“In its first season, it generated revenues of around £180 million. But in 2015/2016, the most recent season for which there is figures, it was up to £4.5 billion. So you are talking an increase of two-thousand percent plus,” Kevin McCullagh of the Sport Business Group said.
A significant chunk of that growth has come from the selling of TV rights. The latest UK domestic deal was worth nearly $4.3 billion, which has been bolstered by further deals globally- according to global accounting firm Deloitte. A dedicated Premier League Channel broadcasts live matches and magazine shows across the world. Former players turned pundits are in no doubt as to how the English game has been radically improved.
“Everything has changed. Everything has been a game changer since the early days. The pitches have changed, the quality of stadium has changed. There are more fans coming through the turnstiles. But more importantly, the quality of players has changed. You are seeing superstars now coming to the Premier League,” former footballer Don Hutchison said.
Over the last 25 years, the English game has been revolutionized. But there are questions as to whether the huge growth is sustainable.. and what would happen if the bubble burst. Despite the huge revenues, Premier League clubs suffered combined losses of $150 million in the 2015/2016 season.
A large part of that was because of the $3 billion the clubs paid in wages.
“I don’t know how far it can go. The amount of money that is being pumped into the Premier league now is phenomenal,” former footballer Dion Dublin said. “And we are getting a good product. If the money keeps coming in, if the fans keep going, it will continue to grow. But for how long, I don’t know.”
For now though, the English Premier League appears to be achieving its goal of being a huge commercial success.
John Gubba explains the business of football
John Gubba, Soccer historian and former cameraman for EPL explains to CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo what’s changed in 25 years Britian’s biggest football league as a new Premier League season gets underway.