Even England's second soccer division makes more money than some of Europe's top leagues

  • The 24 teams that make up the Championship brought in combined revenue of 835 million euros for the 2016/17 season.
  • The Championship outperforms the top leagues in Turkey, Russia and the Netherlands.
  • Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris, Fortress Investment Group co-founder Wes Edens and Eleven Sports Network owner Andrea Radrizziani all hold major stakes in Championship teams.

The Premier League is the world’s richest soccer league. But, not to be outdone, England’s second tier also holds its own with Europe’s top leagues.

The 24 teams that make up the Championship brought in combined revenue of €835 million euros ($967 million) for the 2016/17 season, according to Deloitte’s figures, making it the sixth highest soccer league anywhere in terms of revenue.

Still some way off the numbers posted by elite leagues in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, not to mention the U.K.’s Premier League, the Championship is now ahead of the top divisions in Turkey, Russia and the Netherlands.

Championship revenue and attendance figures when compared to the second tiers of Germany, France and Spain show it’s reaching a new level. However, 30 percent (250 million euros) of total Championship revenue in 2016/17 came from Premier League parachute payments, which is more than the second tiers of France and Spain generated in total.

Parachute payments are sums given to teams relegated to the Championship from the Premier League to soften the impact of dropping down a division. Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea will all be in receipt of around 45 million euros for the 2018/19 season, followed by 39 and 17million euros for the two subsequent seasons, if there is no Premier League return.

Investors are sensing opportunities with Championship teams, with former European champions Aston Villa the latest side to undergo a takeover from figures in the business world. In July, Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and Fortress Investment Group co-founder Wes Edens recently agreed a majority stake at Villa reported to be 55 percent (39 million euros).

    Eleven Sports Network owner Andrea Radrizzani is chairman of Championship team Leeds United — his company has just taken Spanish and Italian football broadcasting rights in the U.K. away from Sky and BT respectively.

    Notable names are in charge of the soccer on the pitch as well. Chelsea’s record goal scorer and ex-England international Frank Lampard is starting his managerial career in the Championship this season, in charge of Derby County.

    “We are on paper a Premier League club. The size, the info structure, but there are a lot of clubs challenging. There are a lot of clubs who have spent a lot of money to improve their squads,” said Lampard, ahead of his first game in charge. “There are a lot of clubs who’ve come down from the Premier League, that have different finances to what we have.”

    Promotion from the Championship to the Premier League comes with its own huge rewards, with three spots available each season. It’s then worth an estimated 336 million euros to any of those clubs going on to maintain Premier League status the following season, thanks to broadcasting rights and other commercial revenue.

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