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Chelsea player wage database: updated for January transfer window

A comprehensive look at all relevant Chelsea player wages during the financial fair play era, contained in an interactive database.

Clive Rose

Noted football lawyer Daniel Geey recently pointed out that Chelsea is unlikely to qualify for the wage exemption contained in Annex 11 §2 of UEFA's financial fair play regulations during the first monitoring period (which covers the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons).

Geey does a great job explaining the issues and lays it out in such a way that is very accessible to the layperson. It is a must-read for anyone interested in why Chelsea will not be eligible to use the wage exemption.

With our original wage database, I was operating under the assumption that Chelsea would qualify for the wage exemption, largely due to the belief that UEFA would interpret the term "positive trend" more broadly.

Fortunately, the inability to utilise the wage exemption won't affect Chelsea's compliance with the break-even mandate at the first FFP checkpoint. However, given that the club lost nearly £50m during the 2012-2013 reporting period, the general consensus is that if they report fewer losses for 2013-2014, then they will likely be able to use the wage exemption for the 2014-2015 monitoring period. For Chelsea, the wage exemption is worth close to £80m in FFP write-offs, so expect Chelsea to take steps to reduce its losses this season.

With Chelsea currently unable to use the wage exemption, and given that financial fair play mandates that we look at the financial aspects of any potential transfer almost as closely as we do the tactical aspects, we thought it would be a good time to roll out our updated FFP wage bill.

A note on the updated 2011-2012 figures

Given that we had to update the 2011-2012 wages to take into account Chelsea's likely inability to avail itself of the wage exception, it must be noted that the figure I arrived at for 2011-2012, £140.2m, differs slightly from the wage figure contained in the official 2011-2012 statement. The 2011-2012 statement shows that the actual wage figure is £140m.

While the figures seem remarkably close (within £200,000), it must also be noted the £140m wage bill includes wages paid not just to the players, but also to the 604 full-time employees at Chelsea and an additional 550 part-time matchday employees. As such, the non-player wages must also be accounted for.

The Roberto Di Matteo - Andre Villas-Boas combination earned £6.75m between them during the 2011-2012 season, and one member of the board of directors earned £911,000 in total compensation (the other board members were not compensated out of the Chelsea accounts, but rather from Roman Abramovich directly).

The other 601 employees were likely not so handsomely compensated for their services. Lets assume that the average Chelsea employee earned £35,000 during the 2011-2012 reporting period. A select few likely earned more (your Michael Emenalo's, Steve Holland's, and Paco Biosca's) and most likely earned less (ticket office workers, secretaries, maintenance crew). That adds up to just over £21m. Lets further assume at the 550 matchday employees earn around £25 per game to scan tickets, serve pies, and provide security. That adds up to £412,500 per year (Chelsea played 30 matches at Stamford Bridge in 2011-12, due to the successful Champions League and FA Cup runs).

Once the wages for the managers, coaches, physio staff, and all the support staff who ensure that the club is running smoothly are calculated, we have a figure of £29.16m.

As mentioned, the total wages for all Chelsea employees was "only" £140m. So then, how can we reasonably state that the player wage bill was £140.2m, when we know that an additional £29.16m was paid to other employees?

Herein lies the difference between the standard accounting practises for financial statements due to Companies' House and UEFA's FFP accounting practises.

In the 2011-2012 statement, Chelsea also reports £28.8m in profit from player sales (gross profit mind, you, not net). This is listed separately on the report Chelsea filed with Companies House.

With regards to the accounts Chelsea will provide to UEFA, player sales will be part of the wage bill and will offset the player's book value. As such, our wage database includes the profit from the sales of Yuri Zhirkov, Alex, Michael Mancienne, etc.

Conveniently, that £28.8m Chelsea accounts for elsewhere (and we account for in the wage bill) just about covers the estimated £29.16m earned by other employees that is included in the £140m wage bill.

Granted, our wage figure is still high by about £500,000, but some deviation is going to be inevitable when having to do a best-guess accounting of a lot of these figures, and it's always better to end up on the higher side when it comes to projecting expenditures.

Fernando Torres is expensive, and other fun fiscal facts

Following up on some initial observations we made back in September, we have a few more monetary musings to share.

  • Fernando Torres costs £18.46m annually, almost three times what Didier Drogba cost in 2011-2012 (£6.24m).
  • Chelsea's bench for the FA Cup match against Derby County on 5 January costs £50m more, this season alone, than Derby's entire 2013-14 wage bill (£59m for Chelsea's bench, £9m for Derby's entire team).
  • If Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, and Samuel Eto'o leave at the end of the year, and John Terry comes back on a one-year deal at £100,000 per week, that would represent nearly £24m in savings.
  • Patrick van Aanholt, Marco van Ginkel, and Romelu Lukaku are on the books for £10.13m combined next season.
  • At the end of this season, the remaining book value on Kevin de Bruyne will be around £4.4m. If he is sold for £25m this summer, that would be recorded as a £20.6m profit on the 2014-2015 FFP books.
  • The number of players in the world that would cost more than £20.6m per year on the FFP books is likely in the single digits.

Feel free to play around with the database and if you notice anything interesting, be sure to let the rest of us know in the comments section!

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