Average UK Salary -v- Pro Footballer Salary (1984-2010)

Everyone knows premier league players these days have more money than sense. When they’re not playing football, they’re driving around town in a Maserati with £25,000 in cash sitting on the passenger seat or shrugging off £250k fines for going to strip clubs whilst supposed to be preparing for a match… that’s just one player of course…

Back in ’84

Back in 1984 when top flight footballers were earning roughly treble the average UK salary, things were different. Footballers were famous but they weren’t celebrities. ‘Foreigners’ in those days were Irishmen. Nobody wore yellow boots, gloves or scarves on the field… they didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to themselves. Tackles from behind = legal. Contact in the box = not a penalty. You had to be rugby tackled or shot dead to earn a free kick. How many of today’s brylcreem brigade would last in that environment? *silence* as you let the rhetorical question carry out it’s job…

The average UK salary was just under £10,000 in 1984. The average salary of a top flight footballer? Just under £25,000. So a top flight footballer was earning 2 and a half times that of the guy who was watching him on TV…

Fast forward to 2010

Moving forward to the modern era and this is where things start to get interesting. In 2010, the average UK salary was just over £34,000. What about a top flight footballer? £1.16m. So a top flight footballer was earning over 34 times more than Joe Soap watching him on TV in 2010. So what the hell happened over that 26 year period? Well, celebrity happened. Foreign imports happened. Sky happened. WAGS happened. All contributed to varying degrees towards beefing up the current average salary of a Premier League footballer.

Average Football Salaries

In layman’s terms…

We felt those stats and graphs were interesting but it was all becoming a little bit ‘suit and tie’ for our liking. Excel graphs? Yeah… that’s gonna impress the guys down the pub. Why not whip out our prawn sandwiches and encase ourselves in glass whilst we’re at it.

No, we needed a better way to present our findings… something which all sports fans could relate to… something which could be understood by everyone. English is a fairly universal language and charts are fairly easy to understand but they all pale in comparison to the world’s favourite, unofficial, universally spoken language that is ‘Beer’. More specifically, ‘The Pint’.

So forget everything we’ve told you about this topic so far… forget the comparisons, the stats, the bad jokes and focus on this design below… we think you’ll agree that this explains things better than we’ve done in text format and better than we could produce using excel graphs…

Source for player wages: http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2011/10/30/english-football-wages-since-1984-85-301001/

Sean MacEntee

Designer, United fan and Head of 25/7 Sports social media time-wasting department.

3 thoughts on “Average UK Salary -v- Pro Footballer Salary (1984-2010)

    1. Good question and it’s not actually clear from the figures… they were taken from sportingintelligence.com who got their hands on this official document from the PFA; 
      http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2011/10/30/english-football-wages-since-1984-85-301001/

      I’m assuming it’s mean however based on snippets of info from similar articles like this one; 
      http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Premier-league-wages-rocket-during-recession-Wayne-Rooney-Carlos-Teves-Yaya-Toure-Fernando-Torres-over-10m-a-year-article838429.html 

      1. It would make much mores sense it was an median, otherwise it would be an statistical error in not comparing like for like. I think it looks like it is an median wage.
         The UK salary average is given as a median salary, It makes much more sense and gives a more representative view of what UK workers earn.  Therefore the wages of Premier league footballers should also be looked at in this way, for the same reasons that the UK worker wage is expressed as a median, extreme values at the upper end (Man City’s superstars tevez, etc..) will skew the’average and give a unrepresentative view of the ‘average’ wage. Most players will not earn these extreme amounts, most premier league players are at clubs who have to tightly control their wage budgets. Swansea, wigan, norwich, etc… 
        Looking at the figures it does look like a median wage is used for PL footballers. 

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