Ever had questions about clubs that you were afraid to ask? Here’s the rundown on the 20 Soccer teams competing in the top tier of English Soccer. Some historical facts, some questions to be answered, and some serious takeaways. Here is everything you wanted to know about the clubs but didn’t want (or know) to ask.
During the next couple weeks, we’ll be exploring each teams transfer business (In and Out) to see how well teams have addressed their needs!
Nickname: The Gunners
Founded: 1886 (Under a different name)
Team Colors: Red/White
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (2014-present)
Kit Sponsor: Emirates Airlines
Ground: Emirates Stadium (2006-present)
Manager: Unai Emery (first season) replacing Arsene Wenger (1996-2018)
17/18 Season: 6th in English Premier League
Arsenal are a perennial Premier League team, with their only stint in lower-tier football occurring prior to World War I (as part of their progression to the Premier League). Since then, they’ve been a stalwart and are considered part of English soccer’s royalty, the “Big Six”. While placed in this royalty, Arsenal’s recent form have had them finishing outside of the top-4 which is a perquisite for the UEFA Champions League. Missing out on the Champions League is a big financial hit for the club, and has been a voiced concern amongst the players; some of whom have run out their contracts or joined rival clubs for the opportunity to compete at the highest level. One of these situations led to a winter transfer window swap for one of Arsenal’s top players, Alexis Sanchez, getting swapped for a Henrik Mkhitaryan who was in poor form for Manchester United so that they didn’t lose him to a free transfer deal.
Arsenal are on their first season Post-Wenger who’s been at Arsenal almost as long as I’ve been alive. So far, Unai Emery, has shown a couple of positives: he’s managed to get some top-tier talent for reasonable prices (by EPL standards) and one particular transfer, Sokratis, was able to overcome reported interest by other Big Six clubs. Arsenal is not a bad side, and I fully expect them to continue in continental competition. Arsenal’s Achilles heel last year was their propensity to give up losses, whereas their EPL opponents could fight for draws. If only a few of those losses were draws, they likely would have been in Champions League competition instead of Europa League.
I think the prospects for Arsenal will be good enough for Champions League this year. Arsenal has also had a larger squad than many teams which has caused some strife for its players (Olivier Giroud –last year, and Jack Wilshere – this year) which eventually have led them elsewhere. I think that clarified expectations under Emery could tighten up the rotation a little and keep continuity (especially in the back) which will allow them to hold on in tight contests.
Click here for an in-depth look at Arsenal’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Cherries
Team Colors: Red/Black
Kit Manufacturer: JD Sport (2015-2017) and Umbro (2017-present)
Kit Sponsor: Mansion.com (also used, Casino.com, a subsidiary of the former)
Ground: Dean Court (1911-present), called Vitality Stadium (for Sponsorship Purposes)
Manager: Eddie Howe (2012-present; 2nd spell with club)
17/18 Season: 12th in English Premier League
AFC Bournemouth have predominantly been a Tier 3 (League 1) team for the majority of their recent history, occasionally slumping to Tier 4 (League 2). The Cherries latest rise coincides with the end of a period of financial instability ultimately resulting in a 17-point penalty for failing to follow financial rules. After the 2008-2009 season, they were acquired by new ownership which allowed them freedom from past debts. Up until the 2015-2016 season, their first in the premier league, they largely maintained a positive transfer balance (less outlays than proceeds). The team expended substantial amounts of transfer money in an attempt to shore up the club for the long-haul. However, despite their astronomical increase in transfer spending, it seems to be largely sustainable due to the dramatic increase in sponsorship and television revenue realized by the Premier League clubs.
Bournemouth has managed to finish mid-table in both the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. I imagine this trend will continue, they’ve managed to do just enough to stay right in the thick of things. Based off of their transfer expenditures and their wage bill, I imagine they are probably up $14-17.5M per year (based on expected TV deal income of ~$117M – Wages + Transfers into the club). This is quite an anomaly in the Premier League, and I imagine they’ll try to keep adding to the club balance sheet while they can. They clearly will have some high dollar investment-type purchases (a new stadium is in work) or potentially they could invest heavily into the academy, younger prospects, or bolstering the first team. This is a great place for Bournemouth to stay unless they decide to try and fight with the Big Six for continental competition which is always a bit of a gamble. Soccer isn’t about money, but I doubt they’ll be in any hurry to end their positive cash flow without a reason.
Click here for an in-depth look at Bournemouth’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Nickname: Seagulls or Albion
Team Colors: Blue/White
Kit Manufacturer: Nike (2014-present)
Kit Sponsor: American Express
Ground: Falmer Stadium (1911-present), American Express Community Stadium or “the Amex” for Sponsorship Purposes)
Manager: Chris Houghton (2014-present)
17/18 Season: 15th in English Premier League
Brighton and Hove Albion (BHA) finished second in the Championship in the 2016–2017 season giving them automatic promotion to the Premier League for 2017-2018. By winning promotion, they ended a 34-year period without top tier soccer. BHA haven’t really found one particular league home, they’ve spent at least some time at every level. They finished the season in 15th place on the back of some impressive wins over Arsenal and Manchester United. Despite their final position, they spent a lot of time further up the table. After beating Manchester United they were 11th in the table before a string of losses to end the season in 15th.
BHA should benefit from remaining in the premier league with a substantial sum of money coming from the EPL television deal. For comparison, their 2016-2017 turnover over for the entire year was about $37.75M per documents submitted by the club for fair play financial reviews. 2017-2018 compensation for final position and TV revenue for BHA is expected to be about $140M. Though they did spend about $70M to bring in talent in 2017-2018 season. I doubt that level of spending will continue; but it’s important to stay in the Premier League for this club in particular because they have some sizable debts they need to be able to service.
That said, with a couple quality additions and some extra focus in tight games — i think middle tier is a reasonable goal for the club. Aside from the financial benefits, it’s important for clubs like BHA to maintain standing so that they are able to keep their important players under contract. Lower-end clubs often lose players to bigger clubs because they get disenchanted with their clubs level of competitiveness and can ultimately put their club in a position to try to have a “fire sale” to get as much for the player as possible (especially in the final year(s) of a contract).
Click here for an in-depth look at Brighton & Hove Albion’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Clarets
Team Colors: “Claret” Red/Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (2010-present)
Kit Sponsor: LaBa360
Ground: Turf Moor
Manager: Sean Dyche
17/18 Season: 7th in English Premier League
Burnley has fallen as low tier 4 during a stretch of 1985-1993, and nearly fell out of Tier 4 in 1987. They managed survival by winning the final game of the season and getting some fortuitous loses from fellow relegation sides. However, since that time Burnley has had a very successful period climbing the ranks of English soccer. Starting in 2009, Burnley started the yo-yo journey of trying to stay up in the Premier League, getting relegated and promoted once again under Sean Dyche. This season was the sides’ most successful campaign in about 45 years. This season’s successes will see the side play in continental competition (Europa League) for the first time in roughly 50 years.
Burnley has been very successful of late without the massive spending that usually accompanies top half of the table teams. In fact, in the 2017-2018 season, Burnley actually made nearly $20M from transfers while maintaining respectable league position. This reflected in the club’s financials which improved dramatically from the 2015-2016, where the club posted a loss of nearly $5M to the 2016-2017 seasons profit of nearly $30M. They’ve done no harm to their status by ensuring their highest league finish in a long time and garnering continental soccer, both of which should yield big sponsorship deals. When considering also that to date, the club has zero transfer expenditure for the summer transfer window — they could be in line for a massive profit, which might pay dividends for years to come. I expect a solid mid-table finish from this time.
Click here for an in-depth look at Burnley’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Cardiff City (Promoted, 2nd place)
Nickname: The Bluebirds
Founded: 1899 (under a different name)
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Team Colors: Blue/White
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2015-present)
Kit Sponsor: Malaysia Tourism Board & BBC Cymru
Ground: Cardiff City Stadium (2009-present)
Manager: Neil Warnock
17/18 Season: 2nd in English Championship (Tier 2)
Before we get into this too far, yes — you read that right, this team is located in Wales. There are a few teams that opted to stay in the English soccer system rather than go to the “new” Welsh Premier League upon founding in the 1990s. The most common of these are Swansea City, Newport County, and yes, Cardiff. There are a few more still, but the remainder are all in lower tier English soccer.
Cardiff has spent most of its time in Tier 2, with some forays into the premiership and some dips into the Tier 4. They’ve been able to keep a good profile in the Championship with a rather modest transfer budget. This is an imperative because the club is highly indebted at this time, as there club reported a net loss for their Championship winning season of roughly $30M, bringing it’s total debt to nearly $130M. The club’s debt is mostly in-house and funded by the owner, but they have been forced to take drastic measures to cut their wage bill and one such way has been player sales.
Unfortunately, with the club so mired in debt, it’s unlikely that the club will be able to add much (if any) quality to the first team. Even though the owner continues to write off sizable chunks of debt for the club. If their financial position worsens much more there is the possibility that a FFP violation becomes a possibility. The club has indicated they received notification of compliance with financial regulations for the 2017-2018, so that’s good news. I don’t see this being a great year for bluebirds’ fans — the one bright spot might come from the bumper revenue they can expect this year. Hopefully they can use this to pay down some debts (as the owner has publicly stated he wishes to do) and get to a more sustainable state.
Click here for an in-depth look at Cardiff City’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Team Colors: (Royal) Blue/White
Kit Manufacturer: Nike (2017-present), Adidas (2006-2017)
Kit Sponsor: Yokohama Rubber Company
Ground: Stamford Bridge
Manager: Maurizio Sarri (2018-present)
17/18 Season: 5th in English Premier League
Chelsea are another of the Big Six and perennial Premier League teams vying for continental competition. . The managerial situation has finally been clarified, but now Chelsea will need to take advantage of what’s left of the transfer window and bring in some quality players for next season. Chelsea experienced loads of success with now-Manchester United head coach, Jose Mourinho, who brought home back-to-back league titles, an English FA cup, and two league cup titles. Previous manager, Antonio Conte lead them to a league title in 2016-2017 before a number of managerial blunders got him on the shortlist for removal.
Update: Conte was “officially” fired last Wednesday (7/11) though it was not released to the soccer community until Friday. This is in the wake of Napoli agreeing to a reduced buyout of Maurizio Sarri, expected to be around $6M. So, Conte out, Sarri in.
Chelsea is one of the premiere clubs in the world, with a wage bill in the hundreds of millions and transfer expenditures not markedly lower. Chelsea has consistently been a part of continental competition and has been able to pry away unsettled players from other clubs (Olivier Giroud from Arsenal) for less than market value rather than lose them on free transfers at the end of their contract. Chelsea has historically had a brilliant eye for talent and has made some great acquisitions for young players that end up playing for the Blues for years to come. Along with the success and money, billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has brought lofty expectations for his club. They showed with Conte that it’s not enough to win, they want to consistently be among the best.
Click here for an in-depth look at Chelsea’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Eagles
Team Colors: Red/Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (2018-Present), Macron (2014-2018)
Kit Sponsor: ManBetX
Ground: Selhurst Park
Manager: Roy Hodgson
17/18 Season: 11th in English Premier League
Crystal Palace has had a fair amount of success in the league, but has been hampered by repeated financial problems. The club has entered administration and had asserts sold off to repay credits a number of times. Each time the club has been unable to recover from the sale of key players. Crystal Palace is a prime example of the hazards faced by clubs at the top level, spending is a must — and relegation can be a very painful time for the club. Also concerning, the club was late in the submission of their findings by nearly 2 months thus far, although surprisingly when the reports came out, they were positive. The 2017-2018 season revealed that their finances had improved to the point that they showed profit of about $15M, compared to the 2016-2017 loss of about $10M. The 2016-2017 season showed a roughly $8M loss, and this years filings will have payoffs for two fired managers, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce.
Roy Hodgson has loads of management experience including both the international (most notably for England) and club level for fellow Premier League Clubs like West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool. Immediate concerns for Eagles fans have to be the financial filings, another round of administration could be ruinous for the club and while this years shows positive they need to ensure that they are on a sustainable trajectory. Crystal Palace’s 2017-2018 revenues from the massive EPL television deal and final placement should amount to roughly $150M, so hopefully they will arise largely unscathed. Around $45M was spent on incoming transfers for that same season.
Click here for an in-depth look at Crystal Palace’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Toffees
Founded: 1878 (Under a different name)
Team Colors: Royal Blue/White
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro (2014-present)
Kit Sponsor: SportPesa
Ground: Goodison Park
Manager: Marco Silva
17/18 Season: 8th in English Premier League
Everton have been a mainstay in the Premier League, competing in the top division for over 100 years. Within those years however, Everton has managed to hold almost every position in the league including first. Everton have managed to keep a relatively positive transfer balance, though, they have spent about $60M a year on incoming transfers on average. Much of what’s kept their balance close has been selling marquee players; for example Romelu Lukaku (to Manchester United) for roughly $94M, making almost $55M from their acquisition of him in 2014-2015.
The 2017-2018 season saw a massive (~$230M) rework of Everton’s first team including England keeper Jordan Pickford and Gylfi Siggurdson. Based on Everton’s final position and TV revenue they were expected to receive nearly $170M, which should still keep them just about positive despite the spending. Thus far Everton hasn’t had any activity in the transfer market this summer coming off their 8th place finish. Last season’s goal scoring leader (former English forward Wayne Rooney) has moved to the MLS from the club, so it will be interesting to see how the club rebounds. I anticipate a top 8 finish, meaning continental competition is likely. If this Everton side can find some scoring within the first team, it could be a scary squad — perhaps enough to secure a top 4 finish.
Click here for an in-depth look at Everton’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Fulham (Promoted via Playoff)
Nickname: The Cottagers
Founded: 1879 (Under a different name)
Team Colors: White/Black
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2013-present)
Kit Sponsor: Dafabet
Ground: Craven Cottage
Slaviša Jokanović (sacked 14 November 2018) Claudio Ranieri
17/18 Season: 3rd in English Championship (Tier 2)
Fulham has spent time in the top-4 Tiers of English Football, with most of their time spent around the second Tier. They have had their ups and downs but have been fairly stable overall, their most recent stint in the Premier League from 2001-2014. The club record position is only as high as 7th in the Premier League, but they are well accustomed to competing in it. In 2013 a period of new ownership began with a dramatic overhaul of the clubs first team, not once, but twice in the first two years along with a number of management changes. In addition, they managed to break the Tier 2 transfer fee record several times in short succession. Fulham maintains stout rivalries with a number of the other London-area clubs — especially Chelsea.
Fulham have a substantial number of supporters, and a surprising amount of followers in the United States, partly due to their “American Pipeline”. Fulham was the first choice English team for many casual American fans because they were familiar with a number of the first team players — who would then play for the US Men’s National Team. Fulham has been one of the homes for Americans in England, with American National Team stalwarts like Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, and MLS-favorite Kasey Keller. However, in recent years Fulham’s American connection has begun to dwindle with Tottenham taking over the title now.
The 2015-2016 season was nearly disastrous for Fulham with relegation a real possibility for most of the season, they managed to stay up, barely, by finishing 20th. However, the next seasons would be substantial improvements with Fulham finishing in 3rd the Championship and won the playoff to come back to the Premier League. Fulham has reported net losses over the past several years, but the owner has clearly indicated that he would continue funding their funding needs. The return to the Premier League should help the club restore it’s finances to a better place as long as they can control their transfer expenditures (and, ideally remain in the EPL).
Click here for an in-depth look at Fulham’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Terriers
Team Colors: Blue/White
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro (2018-present)
Kit Sponsor: OPE sports (chest)/Leisu sports (sleeve)
Ground: Kirklees Stadium
Manager: David Wagner
17/18 Season: 16th in English Premier League
Huddersfied Town (HTAFC) really haven’t had enough consistency within the English Tier’s to label them with any specific Tier, though, to their credit — they’ve only barely spent time in Tier 4. Their recent form has been fantastic after a low-mid table finish in the 2015-2016, they managed to have a great season that saw them finish in the playoffs, where they are able to secure promotion. Despite a relatively lackluster first season (back) in the Premier League, they were able to ensure safety after a draw with Chelsea. This in and of itself is commendable, few teams are able to fight off relegation during their first ask. I expect some shrewd transfer deals this summer to shore up HTAFC’s prospects for remaining in the Premier League in the 2018-2019 season, but don’t be fooled — it will likely be another tough season for the Terriers.
HTAFC payout for League Position and TV revenue will put them around $135M for 2017-2018 season, meaning they will probably be able to bring in a few good transfers. During the 2017-2018 season HTAFC spent about $60M on transfers and this spending is likely to continue as they seek to better their outcomes. The 2016-2017 financials show that while HTAFC against posted a loss, the increase in costs related to the move to the Premier League only increased their loss about $16M (totaling about $28.5M loss; compared to 2016’s $12.5M). HTAFC will have to prove that they are able to handle the likely tight-rope walking season to come. They have a number of players that have drawn interest from larger clubs; Christopher Schindler, Aaron Mooy, and Chris Löwe. I anticipate a relegation battle for this club once again, despite the transfers already agreed to for the upcoming season.
Click here for an in-depth look at Huddersfield Town’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Foxes
Founded: 1884 (under a different name)
Team Colors: White/Royal Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2018-present), Puma (2012-2018)
Kit Sponsor: King Power
Ground: King Power Stadium
Manager: Claude Puel
17/18 Season: 9th in English Premier League
Leicester City was the “feel good hit of the summer” when despite all odds, they were able to win the Premier League in 2015-2016. They were given 5000-1 odds to start the season, and ultimately made anyone who took those odds very rich with even a small wager. This win was their first (and only) in the Top Tier, and they have pretty much split their time between Tier 1 and Tier 2. During their most recent tenure in the Premier League their transfer expenditures having been running at about $35M net per year. The Foxes have also fallen victim to not providing the competitiveness desired by its players (and/or Continental football) with them ultimately releasing star-playmaker Rihyad Mahrez to rival City for less than they had initially wanted, but weren’t prepared to let him go for free, so they cashed in. Leicester City has been pretty shrewd in their business dealings over the past few years and have largely kept their spending in check.
I think Leicester City could be in for a return to form this year and at least compete for continental football. They still have a great squad, even without Riyad Mahrez, and should have a number of English players coming back ready to prove their worth. They’ve also nailed down a few quality additions for the 2018-2019 season with a likely replacement for Mahrez already identified (and signed). After their title winning season, then-manager Claudio Raineri cautioned the club and fans about rampant expectations to repeat because other clubs had caught on to their strategy. Whether that was the reason for his eventual sacking or not, Raineri lost the faith of the title winning team, fans, and eventually the management support. Regardless, I think this team just has too much talent to struggle for long and as long as they have effective management I see them returning to better form.
Click here for an in-depth look at Leicester City’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Reds
Team Colors: Red
Kit Manufacturer: New Balance/Warrior (2012-present)
Kit Sponsor: Standard Chartered
Manager: Jürgen Klopp
17/18 Season: 4th in English Premier League
Liverpool is among the more storied clubs in the Premier League with a horde of trophies, league titles, domestic cups, and international titles. Liverpool has a strong rivalry with both Manchester clubs, partly due to proximity — although the recent history has favored the Manchester and London clubs. Liverpool is one of the most valuable sports clubs and possesses a huge international fan base. Liverpool also has one of the most bizarre campaigns in history — they tied in points with Arsenal, goal difference (goals scored – goals allowed), and ultimately lost the 1988-1989 title because of a goal Arsenal scored in the final moment of play. Liverpool have also struggled on occasion with large burdens of debt trying to keep up with the remaining Big Six clubs. However, after some up and downs in the recent history leading to many clubs chiding Liverpool over needing an anthem called “You Will Never Walk Alone” with derisive comments about their inability to collect titles, they seem to have found some light.
Jürgen Klopp has worked miracles recently for Liverpool, with a combination of shrewd transfer finds and on-field form. Klopp has assembled a wonderful team, although one piece (Philippe Coutinho) was poached prior to last season by FC Barcelona for roughly $130M, containing phenoms Mohammed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané. This team has been prolific at creating and scoring goals ensuring their 4th place finish in the league and ensuring a birth in the group stage of the Champions League. In the past few years Liverpool has been largely breaking even on their transfers, which is remarkable for not only a Big Six, but a top-4 team. This transfer window has been less active (in volume) than many seasons past, but they are providing even more play-making and goal-scoring ability, I’m looking for this team to at least repeat top-4. Although, I think this team is a title challenger, and maybe even capable of bringing home a UEFA Champions League Title.
Click here for an in-depth look at Liverpool’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Citizens
Team Colors: Sky Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Nike (2013-present)
Kit Sponsor: Etihad Airways (2009-present)
Ground: City of Manchester Stadium, called “The Etihad” (for sponsorship reasons)
Manager: Pep Guardiola
17/18 Season: 1st in English Premier League
Even after a season that same then rewrite the record books, City has managed to continue to get better. As perhaps you’ve guessed by the Stadium’s naming rights or the kit sponsor — money abounds in Manchester. City dropped roughly $350M on players last summer window to reload the side. This year they’ve spent drastically less — but aren’t being shy, City has bigger goals. Pep wants City to be more competitive in the major English trophies and perhaps more importantly, the Champions League.
Guardiola has been in control of his career, choosing where he wants to go after leaving Barcelona and Bayern Münich it seems like he wants to make some noise in the premier league. It’s hard to imagine this squad outside the top 4, it’s almost like a FIFA video game squad. I anticipate them to continue demolishing anyone in the way of them and additional trophies. So far the lofty expectations fed by Middle Eastern money have been managed —- and I don’t expect that to stop this year. I think a serious title challenge should be in order, otherwise, this might be a “bust” of a season, and I also expect them to bulldoze their way into at least the UEFA quarterfinals.
Click here for an in-depth look at Manchester City’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Red Devils
Founded: 1878 (under a different name)
Team Colors: Red
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2015-present)
Kit Sponsor: Chevrolet (2014-present)
Ground: Old Trafford
Manager: José Mourinho
17/18 Season: 2nd in English Premier League
The Red Devils are one of the most recognizable clubs and brands in the world. Even during the Post-Sir Alex Furguson era the club has managed to lead the way in income, profitability, and global image despite Manchester United having a down period in the club’s history (relatively). In a club whose managerial legend was knighted for his work and spent more than twenty five years with the club, it’s inevitably tough to follow. The first managers to follow after Sir Alex didn’t live up to the task and were fired. Now, the club is beginning year three under José Mourinho a former manager for rival Chelsea. Despite not winning major trophies, Mourinho has guaranteed back to back Champions League appearances and a Europa League win.
In addition to massive successes internationally and locally, United has also helped to “create” some of the biggest names in World Soccer including: Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ryan Giggs.
Mourinho’s time with the club has been hampered by large-scale I hurt problems within the squad, particularly center back. Under his leadership Luke Shaw has made a recovery to fitness despite a long injury history. Looking towards a healthier season, United has already completed the acquisition of a youthful central defender and some midfield reinforcements. This Big Six club should be another that makes the top 4, and the Champions League with ease. While they haven’t spent on the same scale as rival Manchester City, there’s definitely no shortage of funds for the biggest revenue generating club in soccer, roughly $700M annually. And the Red Devils never forget, City may have won last year (3rd time), but United leads the EPL with a ridiculous 20 titles (13 in the 27 years of the Premier League), and 20 is always greater than 3.
Click here for an in-depth look at Manchester United’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Magpies
Team Colors: Black/White
Kit Manufacturer: Puma (2010-Present)
Kit Sponsor: Fun88
Ground: St. James’ Park
Manager: Rafael “Rafa” Benítez
17/18 Season: 10th in English Premier League
Newcastle has been another stalwart in the Premier League spending most of their history in the top division, minus a few short stints in Tier 2. Current manager, Rafa Benitez was unable to keep the club from relegation in the 2015-2016 but was able to secure promotion the following year back to the Premier League. The 2017-2018 was the highest position they have achieved in some time. Newcastle has been very proficient at maintaining reasonable transfer expenditures over the recent years, with an average expenditure of only about $35M. Based on TV deals and final position for the 2017-2018 season, Newcastle should be receiving in the ballpark of $160M. For the year ending May 2017 the club’s financials show a loss of about $50M, but most of this was related to their relegation to the Championship and the subsequent loss of revenue. I don’t anticipate this to be a long term issue, the club seems to have very healthy prospects for the future and should be sustainable going forward.
Thus far in the transfer window, Newcastle hasn’t been particularly active in acquiring or selling players, with only a few going in each direction. That said, Rafa’s squad managed a 10th place finish last season, and I think another mid-table result is likely, the additions they’ve made seem to be solid and the departures shouldn’t have any negatives. If there’s a negative to be had here, it’s that there really isn’t a consistent goal-scoring threat outside of Ayoze Pérez.
Click here for an in-depth look at Newcastle United’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Saints
Founded: 1885 (under a different name)
Team Colors: Red/White
Kit Manufacturer: Under Armor (2016-present)
Kit Sponsor: Virgin Media (2016-present)
Ground: St. Mary’s Stadium
Manager: Mark Hughes
17/18 Season: 17th in English Premier League
Southampton has spent a good portion of it’s existence in the Premier League following their initial quest to it. They have punctuated most of their periods in the EPL with a stunning fall from grace and down into Tier 3 soccer. I’m concerned that we are approaching yet another of those dives as the team barely managed to stave off relegation (reminder, 18-20 go down) on the last match day of the season. They also sold several players Virgil Van Dyke (to Liverpool, for about $87M) and Jay Rodriguez (to West Bromwich Albion, for about $15M) on their way to netting more than $30M from transfers. Over the past several years, Southampton has managed to make it a trend to sell players to cover nearly all of their transfer expenditures and sometimes to add a princely sum to the club accounts. Southampton was 7th in goals for and 10th in goals allowed. Southampton’s problem in 17/18 was their inability to see out a win. They are 2nd-worst in the league in terms of wins, complimented by a lion’s share of draws and losses.
My concern for the 2018-2019 season has everything to do with holding on to, and getting in winning positions. Current transfer business likely isn’t substantial enough to recuperate from the losses of Van Dyke, although a signing was made, but no replacement has yet been identified for Rodriguez. They have signed a Manchester City keeper in an attempt to help their poor goal differential, but the 22 year-old has allowed more than 1 goal against per game in the Championship and has never appeared in a Premier League match. I don’t doubt the player’s ability, but I think there will be an adjustment period because simply put, Premier League Strikers are among the best in the world, and with rare exception, and Championship sides just don’t match up. I’m envisioning a relegation battle, and in all honesty, a likely trip back down for Southampton unless Rafa Benitez can show that he deserves way more money that his contract is for.
Click here for an in-depth look at Southampton’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Team Colors: Navy Blue/White
Ground: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (first game of the season will be played at Wembley Stadium due to construction)
Capacity: 62,062 (Wembley: 90,000)
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
17/18 Season: 3rd in English Premier League
Tottenham is another of the Big Six clubs and perennial Premier League sides, having basically been a part of the EPL consistently since the end of World War II, with only a few detours through the Championship. Tottenham should be competiting for at minimum a top-4 spot again this season, and frankly, anything less is a bust. This team is loaded with talent, and like Leicester City, I anticipate a few of their stars will want to make amends for the 4th place World Cup finish.
I think the confidence in this side is evidenced by the fact they have been completely silent in the summer transfer window, but when you can feature a good chunk of the English national side’s starting XI, probably not much is needed. The side will feature Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, alongside Delli Alli, Son Heung-Min, Kristen Erikson… basically they have great squad depth, and their bench is also deep. This squad had a mere 7 losses the entirety of the season, were tied for 3rd best in goals for, 2nd best in goals against, and a 4th best in goal difference.
If there is one downside to Tottenham, it might be for people like me that are a big fan of the soccer history that goes with the club. Tottenham has been very successful in the past few years, so much so that the “old” White Hart Lane was no longer sufficient for continued use. At the end of the 2016-2017 the old build was completely demolished, and the club played the entirety of 2017-2018 at Wembley Arena. They suffered some under the bright lights at their “home” which was somewhat of an anomaly for this side. They will play the first game at Wembley this season before transitioning to their new home, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The White Hart Lane that we lost was in existence in some form or another since 1905, but, I understand their need for expansion and it really should be a positive reflection on the club.
Click here for an in-depth look at Tottenham’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Nickname: The Hornets
Founded: 1881 (under a different name)
Team Colors: Black/Gold/Red
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2017-present), Dryworld (2016-2017)
Kit Sponsor: FxPro
Ground: Vicarage Road
Manager: Javi Gracia
17/18 Season: 14th in English Premier League
Watford has been a member of the Tier 3 for all but a few quick stops at Tier 4, but in recent times have been steadily improving their standing. They have been back in the Premier League since the 2015 season and since this time have spent pretty heavily in attempts to stay the Premier League course. They have managed a series of mid-table finishes and have spent much less this summer transfer window than in windows past. Watford has managed to keep a relatively healthy set of financials reporting 2016 net loss of $500k, worsening only slightly through 2017, they reported a $16.5M loss (club actually reports a profit due to tax benefits). They also report a healthy wage expenditures ratio of 61% that has been consistent at least through the last 2 years of reporting. This indicates that while the ownership has stated their desire to continue monetizing the club is evident with continuing work on Vicarage Road, improvements to training facilities and squad improvements.
I think that Watford’s final position somewhat belies their successes over the past season. Positions 8-15 in the EPL were a total of 9 points apart. Essentially seeing out one additional winning position rather than a draw would have substantially improved this seeding. The club hasn’t provided the same level of investment in the club’s first team squad as in years past, but that may be more indicative of their confidence that the club should be able to succeed in avoiding relegation with the squad they have. Ultimately, I think they will probably have a lower-middle table finish, probably near where they finished last season. Watford’s income from position and TV revenue was somewhat lower than the other teams coming in just shy of $140M, however, I think that the club will be able to draw a (meaningful) profit from this season. I think the first part of the season will likely provide the best outlook for their final place, in September, the squad plays 3 of the Big Six in 4 games.
Click here for an in-depth look at Watford’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
West Ham United
Nickname: The Hammers/The Irons
Founded: 1895 (under a different name)
Location: (East) London
Team Colors: Red (Claret)/Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro (2015-present)
Kit Sponsor: Betway (2015-present)
Ground: London Stadium
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
17/18 Season: 13 th in English Premier League
If there’s one club I’m most excited for this season, it’s got to be West Ham. West Ham has poured almost $100M into the squad’s first team, but the most exciting part might be the pieces they didn’t pay for. By being able to build in some complimentary pieces without paying premium pricing it allows their spending go that much further.
West Ham has averaged about $30-35M in transfers per year, but seem to be in a great place. West Ham received about $150M from final place and TV revenue over the past season. Based on the club’s financial filings, fans of this club should be beyond excited about the future. The club has posted of a minimum of $22M since the 2012-2013 season, culminating in the 2016-2017 season and it’s nearly $75M profit. Not only does this show responsible stewardship, but a desire to grow the club in a sustainable manner.
One final note on finances: West Ham’s highest wage to turnover proportion was 60% in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, dropping to a recent low of just shy of 52%. The sky is the limit for this club. I anticipate a top-10 finish, and most likely continental competition for this West Ham side (and I haven’t even talked about the talent they’ve actually paid for in this window, that’s for another post!)
Click here for an in-depth look at West Ham’s transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (Promoted, 1st place)
Founded: 1877 (under a different name)
Team Colors: Black/Gold
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas (2018-present), Puma (2013-2018)
Kit Sponsor: W88 (2018-present), The Money Shop (2016-2018)
Ground: Molineux Stadium
Manager: Nuno Espírito Santo
17/18 Season: 1st in English Championship (Tier 2)
To start things off, while Wolverhampton Wanders is the clubs official name, they are known almost exclusively by their nickname alone, Wolves. Now that we have that out of the way – Wolves are pretty well accustomed to Tier 1 and 2, with only occasional ventures to the lower Tiers mostly around a particularly poor period from 1986-1988 (4th Tier only once). After the end of the 2016 season, a Chinese investment group took over ownership of the club, and it immediately paid dividends with the 2017-2018 Championship title, which guaranteed Premier League soccer for 2018-2019. This Wolves side finished a full 9 points ahead of the 2nd placed team, and 11 points above the 3rd qualifier (by way of the play-off). In addition, they scored the most goals in the Championship and allowed the fewest (tied with Cardiff City) goals against.
Despite their dominance in the Championship, coming back to the Premier League and staying there is a tall task for any side, especially one that has been outside the league (and the accompanying revenue) for several years. The clubs financial filings discuss their concerns over a roughly $27M loss for the 2016-2017 season and also expressed that it could have ramifications on their ability to maintain financial rules. This is one of the biggest hurdles for new clubs, obviously, the step up in competition is profound, but the club also needs to remain sustainable in the event that they are relegated again. Wolves has about $25M of 2017-2018 acquisitions, and so far have about $50M in additional acquisitions during this transfer window. I think that this side is likely to be in for a relegation battle, possibly even a drop, though with the quality in the squad (barring financial issues) they should return to the Premier League in a season or two.
Click here for an in-depth look at the Wolves’ transfers in advance of the 2018-19 season.
That’s all for now. Be sure to join us over the next few weeks before the season starts in mid-August for more in-depth coverage of all the English Premier League teams. We hope you’re as excited for the season as we are!