6. Brighton & Hove [£306m]
Brighton & Hove Albion are surprisingly fourth on the list, although the £306m worth of debt is actually owed to their owner Tony Bloom who is a lifelong fan of the club. Bloom invested £111m into squads in a bid to try and get Brighton promoted to the Premier League and has also overseen the Seagulls move from the Withdean Stadium to the Amex Stadium, which cost Brighton over £100m.
5. Everton [£409m]
Everton suffered a staggering loss of £139.9m in the 2019-20 financial year – £67.3m as a result of Covid-19’s impact on football – and have proposed a new share issue to the majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, worth £250m to cover the club’s continued losses. The club’s debt currently stands at £409m.
4. Manchester City [£473m]
After years of Manchester City fans enjoying their club being debt-free, the Blues have gone into the red. More than a few City fans were a little bewildered when the Blues – or rather their parent City Football Group (CFG) took out a $650million loan (£473m).
That money is said to be earmarked to keep growing the CFG, by financing a new stadium for New York City, and other projects. The impact of Covid on matchday revenue at all the CFG clubs has been felt, and to keep on investing in the CFG growth, the club had to look to external sources – hence the loan.
3. Manchester United [£530.2m]
Manchester United’s net debt has fallen by more than £50million in their annual financial results, released last month. United’s figures showed the club’s net debt currently stands at £419.1million, down from £474.4m last year. Although United made a net loss of £92.2m, that was understood to be largely down to the accounting impact of a £66.6m non-cash tax charge. The gross debt of the club is currently £530.2m.
2. Tottenham [£831m]
Spurs are not just one of England’s top clubs, they have moved into the top dozen in Europe. What’s more, they have leapfrogged Arsenal, their North London rivals, built a terrific new stadium and have reached the Champions League final. The past decade has been eventful for the Spurs, but they still haven’t won anything since 2008.
Tottenham’s gross debt totals £831million, with £140million owed in transfer debt, £96million in tax debt, £9million in trade creditors and £102million in other creditors equalling a total of £1.177bn.
1. Chelsea [£1.3bn]
Chelsea have a unique ownership structure, wherein the club’s debt (about £1.3 billion owed to Abramovich) has been converted to debt held in a holding company, Fordstam Limited. While on one hand, the debt exposure towards related parties is significant, on the other, Chelsea have no interest-bearing financial debt owed to other parties, such as financial institutions.
This bit of financial hand-waving means that Chelsea, as a club, are essentially debt-free, though Abramovich could theoretically call in the full amount owed, which could lead to an interesting situation — though in practice would essentially mean he’s selling the club and the new buyer would have to fulfill that debt.