Nick Harris and the good folks at Sporting Intelligence recently published the 2014 edition of their annual Global Sports Salaries Survey. As always, the entire report makes for a fascinating read, but one particular statistic leaped off the page for me.
Chelsea is often accused of "buying trophies," no doubt due to the club's massive spending (and massive accumulation of hardware) during the ten-plus years of the Roman Abramovich era.
Some of those accusations have come from our neighbours in North London, namely Arsenal and their legions of supporters. I lived with an Arsenal supporter during law school and the vast majority of Arsenal supporters I've met are terrific people. At the same time, I don't think I've gone a week without an Arsenal supporter jokingly mention that Chelsea buys its trophies.
It has long been proven that increased spending directly correlates to increased performance on the pitch. As such, if a club is truly concerned with winning at all costs, then said club will spend as much as possible (while still complying with FFP, of course) in pursuit of that goal.
Of course, there's a difference between spending and spending wisely, and I was surprised to learn just how well Chelsea and Arsenal illustrate this point.
To wit, Chelsea pays its first team players, on average, £76,626 per week, just £1,589 more than Arsenal pays its own first team players.
So, I guess it's not so easy to buy trophies, now, is it?
Of course, wages don't tell the entire story, and Chelsea has out-spent Arsenal by hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer market during the Abramovich era.
However, players rarely receive a portion of the transfer fee, and the fact remains that Chelsea is not only doing a much better job than Arsenal on the pitch, but also on the spreadsheets when it comes to getting the best possible return on its investment in first-team wages.