MLS fans remember the NBC three-year broadcasting deal for about $10 million per year. NBC has since signed a three-year broadcasting deal with the EPL for around $80 million per year. Some fans worry: what about when MLS games conflict with the EPL? Which league will take precedence? I’m more interested in the now easy-to-compare numbers: 8:1. That is how much more US money the EPL earns than the native MLS.
I know that stats are indeterminate. And easily manipulated. But they still give us a birds eye view. Thus, let’s look at EPL, MLS and other league salaries.
First, as with all statistics, an assumption. Right now, the exchange rate is $1.67 dollars for every pound. This has not always been the case. At times, it has been almost two dollars for every pound. However, right now, in this very moment, I will use the 1.67 metric.
Second, I know that MLS releases all their players’ salaries, while the EPL does not. I know that the EPL only has released the top earners and also a few vague numbers about total team salaries. Still, let’s look at the EPL top earners and MLS top earners. Let’s compare those stats in relation to the 8:1 TV revenue ratio.
In the EPL, the highest paid goalkeeper is Chelsea’s Petr Cech. He earns 96,000 pounds per week. That’s $153,600 dollars per week. In 9 months of work, he earns $5.5 million. The best paid goalie in MLS is Donovan Rickets. Portland pays him $250,000 per year. The ratio? 22 to 1. Cech earns 22 times as much. Thus, based on US TV revenue, MLS is doing better than the EPL.
Now, let’s look at defenders. The best paid EPL defender is Chelsea’s John Terry. He earns 130,000 pounds per week. In dollars, that’s $217,000 per week. For 9 months of work, that adds up to $7.8 million. In MLS, the top paid defender is New York’s Rafa Marquez. He earns $4.6 million per year. In comparison to the 8:1 TV ratio, MLS is doing pretty poorly in comparison.
Now, a glance a midfielders. The best paid EPL midfielder is Yaya Toure. Manchester City pays him 190,000 pounds per week. In dollars, that’s $304,000 dollars per week. For four weeks a month, that’s $1.2 million per month. For 9 months of work, that adds up to $10.8 million. Conversely, in MLS, David Beckham earns $3 million per year. That 3:1 ratio is a bit closer to the US TV revenue ratio, but not quite there. Advantage: EPL.
Lastly, we look at forwards. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney earns 190,000 pounds per week. In dollars, that’s $304,000 per week. For four weeks a month, that’s $1.2 million per month.For 9 months of work, that adds up to $10.8 million. Conversely, MLS pays Thierry Henry makes $5 million per year. That 2:1 ratio is far from the 8:1 US TV revenue ration.
Of course, you scoff at the use of outliers. What about average salaries? Well, the average EPL salary is 1.46 million pounds per year, which translates to $2.4 million dollars per year. In the MLS, each team’s entire salary cap is $2.8 million dollars per year. Divide that by 11 (10 field players plus a goalie) and forget the subs, and you get the idea. The EPL may earn 8 times as much as the MLS in US TV revenue, but salary costs are at least 10 times as much.
And compared to other US sports? The average NBA salary is $5.5 million per year. That is more than double the EPL average. The average MLB salary is $3.3 million, also above the EPL. The average NHL salary is $2.4 million. Yes, that’s right, your beloved EPL average salary ties with the NHL, a league that was once forced to broadcast games on the cable channel “Versus” because of an awful and drawn-out lockout. And, lastly, the NFL’s average salary is $1.9 million per year. Yes, the same NFL which signed 9 year, $27 billion dollar TV deal ($3 billion per year).
$3 billion is, of course, more than $80 million. $1.9 million is, of course, less than $2.4 million. How did that happen? Hire good lawyers to negotiate your deals, kiddos. And stop complaining about MLS – the salary to US TV revenue ratio is not that off. Plus, MLS, and even the EPL, are light years behind the NFL. Don’t expect parity during you or your children’s life time.