There is something cyberpunk about #Football's modern elite. A shiny, dark, trinity of super-rich football players, cash-laden managers and mega-wealthy club owners. Contemporary, moneyed glamour inextricably linked to domestic and European success. .
Leading from the front, according to UEFA's seventh football finance report, is Real Madrid - the richest club in Europe. In 2014, the Spanish La Liga side recorded revenues of €550 million, a six per cent increase year on year. This corresponds with Deloitte's 18th edition of their football money report, released in January, which placed Real in the number one slot for the ninth consecutive year.
Second place in the UEFA brochure went to England's top football brand Manchester United, who realised €519 million in revenues, while Bayern Munich and Barcelona claim third and fourth place with financial streams amounting to €486 million and €485 million respectively.
In addition to being Europe's richest football club, Real Madrid also enjoyed the highest gate receipts of €121 million. Money quickly ploughed back into the football club in an effort to put Europe's best team on the field. Helped by top players like Christiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the Spanish giants subsequently had the most expensive squad valued at a staggering €316 million. French club Paris St-Germain secured second most expensive club side in Europe with a team worth €276 million.
Not surprisingly, Real also had the highest wage bill paying out €270 million worth of salaries. Second place in terms of wages was claimed by Manchester United with staff salaries costing €263 million. Barcelona were close behind paying €248 million to their players, while Manchester City shelled out €245 million, Paris St-Germain, €235 million, Chelsea €231 million, Bayern Munich €218 million, Arsenal €199 million, Juventus €184 million and Liverpool €172 million.
Over the last 20 years, as clubs have sought to buy success by purchasing the best players and paying them high end salaries, the wage packets of football players have rapidly grown fatter. Upward inflationary pressure over two decades has pushed player salaries to an incredible 664 per cent increase, an average increase of 33.2 per cent per annum.
England has the highest average wage bill at €113.9 million, a remarkable 80 per cent ahead of the German Bundesliga average of €63.2. Average wages in Serie A were €62 million, with La Liga at €55.7 million, and Ligue 1 at €47.9 million
The modern football model is one in which the football club has to keep gobbling up cash while rapidly reinvesting enormous amounts of money from various revenue streams to realise and maintain success. Money secured from gate receipts, transfers, merchandising, commercial activities and broadcasting are nearly always, put straight back into the club in an effort to secure success on the pitch. Success which guarantees inflows of cash. A business concept that mirrors capitalism's frenetic need to generate ever increasing profits at ever accelerating rates.
Financial statistical data from UEFA and Delloite on football only serve to confirm the direction of travel of the global football market.
Gone are the days when the local side's ambition ended at building a fanbase within the community, financial decisions revolved around shared gate receipts, and salaries had a maximum upper ceiling.
Who would be surprised if in the not-too-distant future a regular La Liga fixture like the Real Madrid – Barcelona clasico or the English Premier League's epic encounter Manchester United versus Liverpool was played at a venue in Asia or North America? If the price is right and profits assured anything becomes possible in the rarefied atmosphere of the elite global football market.