The Premier League is a global phenomenon which brings in billions of dollars around the world and attracts the very best players around the world.

The league is hugely popular around the world with Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool shirts spotted in far-flung lands like Malaysia and Thailand.

The league’s enormous popularity means its biggest clubs are hugely rich.

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The biggest clubs are owned by groups containing middle-eastern and American billionaires, who are able to pump in endless funds, which is topped up by hundreds of millions of pounds of TV revenue from the likes of Sky and BT Sport.

And the wealth of British clubs goes beyond the Premier League.

For example, Championship club Reading are owned by the billionaire Chinese twins Dai Yongge and his sister Xiu Li Da – the pair are thought to be the richest twins in the world.

Reading are currently in 21st place, having been docked six points for breaking the English Football League’s financial rules – so having wealthy owners certainly doesn’t always equal success.

The club’s fans fear should the siblings pull out, as they have done with other football-related interests, Reading FC could well cease to exist.

Nonetheless, at the top of the pyramid, the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United can offer players astonishing wages.

The average yearly wage in the UK is just £25,971 ($35,000)

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s £385,000 a week wage is more than 15 times that.

Questions have been raised about how earning these enormous sums affects the players themselves.

Several footballers of all levels have served prison sentences, and there are a number of ongoing cases being investigated by police in England.

On the other side of the coin, England manager Gareth Southgate’s team, which reached the finals of the European Championships held in 2021, gained universal praise for the player’s behavior during the tournament.

Previous teams have been slammed for their antics at tournaments, but Southgate’s side appear to finally understand their responsibilities in representing their country and acting as role models.

The Radio Times looked at the highest-paid players at the start of the 2021/22 season – some players have since left their clubs.

The Premier League’s highest paid players

The wages below are the basic wages, and players’ earnings are likely to be massively boosted by bonuses and sponsorship deals.

David de Gea (Manchester United, goalkeeper) – £375,000 ($508,000)

Jack Grealish (Manchester City, midfielder) – £300,000 ($406,000)

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, midfielder) £300,000 ($406,000)

N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea, midfielder) £290,000 ($392,000)

Paul Pogba (Midfielder, Manchester United) £290,000 ($392,000)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Striker, Arsenal, now of Barcelona) £250,000 ($338,000)

Thomas Partey (midfielder, Arsenal) £250,000 ($338,000)

Anthony Martial (Striker, Manchester United) £250,000 ($338,000)

These wages are the basic pay, and players’ earnings are likely to be massively boosted by bonuses and sponsorship deals.

Are soccer players paid too much?

The Bank of England says no, citing the principle of supply and demand.

It says: “The demand for talented football players is high as they increase the team’s chances of winning titles. Successful teams make more money from broadcasting rights, merchandise, and ticket sales.

“Clubs have to compete for the best players by offering the highest wages. If a particular club was to offer lower wages, other clubs would simply outbid them.

“Playing in the lower leagues pays less because there’s a higher supply of footballers. Demand for such players is also lower as they bring in less revenue for the club.”

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But Steven Powell, policy director of the Football Supporters’ Federation, told the BBC in 2013:

“At a time when income from broadcasters and sponsors has never been higher, ticket prices are in orbit, yet record numbers of clubs are drowning in a sea of red ink.

“Sky-high player wages put upward pressure on ticket prices.

“If you’ve paid an arm and a leg for a ticket and you see somebody playing for your club wandering around the park like love’s young dream, apparently totally uninterested in getting his finger out and putting in some effort, this adds to an increasing sense of alienation amongst many supporters.

Football needs to keep ticket prices down, indeed cut them, if it is to remain the people’s game.”

Since then, wages have only increased.

Chelsea’s tickets cost upwards of £76 ($102.99).

A season ticket is £940 ($1,273.85).

Footballers behaving badly

Premier League footballers have hit the headlines in recent weeks.

Manchester United’s 19-year-old striker Mason Greenwood has been suspended by the club he was was arrested and released on bail at the end of January on suspicion of rape and sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman.

Manchester City’s French international Benjamin Mendy has also appeared in court accused of attacking five women between October 2020 and August 2021.

In 2016, Manchester City’s Adam Johnson was jailed after being convicted of sexual activity with a minor. 

He served three years of a six-year jail sentence.

He is still only 34, but has not had a club since his release in 2019.

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Former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton was also sent to prison in 2008 for common assault and affray.

He served 74 days in prison after an incident in Liverpool city centre.

He was also given a four-month suspended sentence in the same year for assaulting his teammate Ousmane Dabo on the Manchester City training ground.

In 2004, West Bromwich Albion striker Lee Hughes was jailed after crashing his £100,000 Mercedes into another car.

A passenger in the car was killed, but Hughes and his passenger fled.

Hughes later turned himself in.

He was jailed for six years after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

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