Study: Footballer pay up 1,500%

Top footballers have seen pay rises of 1,500% over the past 50 years, many times more than the 186% increase in average UK wages, according to a new study.

Players' wages now account for up to 70% of a club's turnover, compared with 48% in 1997, research by the High Pay Centre think-tank showed.

Fans are paying the price for "excessive" wages, with the cheapest available ticket for top games increasing by over 1,000% since 1989, said the report.

The cheapest ticket to watch Liverpool in 1989 was £4 but now costs £45, and prices have risen from £5 to £51 at Arsenal, the research found.

English football clubs accounted for 56% of all debt in top flight clubs across Europe, while over half of English league clubs have been insolvent in the past 20 years, according to the study.

Dave Boyle, author of the report said: "Over the last 30 years we have seen massive increases in players' salaries, accompanying this we have witnessed many fans priced out of the market, levels of debt that would be unsustainable in any other business and a national team that is continually out-performed by teams from much poorer football countries."

Nick Isles, chairman of the High Pay Centre said: "Bankers and company executives frequently make the comparison between their own pay and that of professional footballers.

"There are similarities. For both the pay is extremely high, excessively complex and in many cases, secret. In football as in business, the money could be better invested in training and infrastructure, rather than unsustainable salary increases.

"It may now be time to put the brakes on this dramatic escalation in pay at the top. We are calling for a national debate on what is fair pay for those at the top of our companies, banks and football leagues."