Twelve football clubs that have joined forces to form a controversial new Super League are in £2.3billion worth of debt, figures show.

The clubs, which include Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid, have had their financial woes worsened further in the past year – after games and ticket sales were pulled due to Covid.

News of the European Super League first emerged on Sunday, with six of the biggest English teams including Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea signing up.

The league, which would effectively break up the 'big six', will be backed by some of the world’s biggest billionaires if it gets the go-ahead from politicians and the competition watchdog.

But it has faced huge backlash, with Boris Johnson hoping to give the new spin-off a “straight red” in official meetings today.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has even suggested a windfall tax on clubs could be imposed to block the new league.

But what's the idea behind it?

Fans are not in favour of the new rival league
Fans are not in favour of the new rival league

The clubs involved claim the European Super League will benefit football as a whole, but critics say it will reduce competition and is driven by greed.

One of the main movers behind the ESL, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, claims that it will "save football" at a time when young people are "no longer interested" because of "a lot of poor quality games".

But the head of Fifa, football's world governing body, said he "strongly disapproves" of the ESL's plans, saying it was "a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain for some".

The founding clubs have been promised a share of a £3billion grant provided by the investment bank JP Morgan.

The clubs are collectively £2.39billion in debt [graphic in Euros]
The clubs are collectively £2.39billion in debt [graphic in Euros]

And with many of them are in considerable debt because of the Covid pandemic, it could give them the cash injection they need.

But how much debt are England's biggest clubs in exactly?

A report by KPMG in June 2020 looked into net debt across major clubs pre-pandemic – including those now signed up to the Super League.

It found Tottenham Hotspur to be the furthest in the red, while Chelsea is up £16.6million.

Here were the results.

  1. Tottenham Hotspur : £591.8million in debt
  2. Manchester United: £452.7million in debt
  3. Juventus: £336.7million in debt
  4. Inter Milan: £278.6million in debt

  5. Barcelona: £274.2million in debt
  6. Real Madrid: £146.8million in debt

  7. Atletico Madrid: £95.9million in debt

  8. AC Milan: £89.7million in debt

  9. Arsenal: £66.3million in debt

  10. Manchester City: £44.8million in debt

  11. Liverpool: Yet to disclose net debt figures for 2019-20 year.

  12. Chelsea: Up £16.6million

Spiralling Covid debt

In January this year, Deloitte’s annual Football Money League looked at the impact the pandemic has had on Clubs financially.

It warned that teams have missed out on over £1.4billion of revenue across the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.

This is primarily driven by matchday revenue, due to the absence of fans, but also rebates to broadcasters and some commercial impacts as well as the lost potential to continue their previous growth trajectory over the period.

“Whilst we expect that many fans will want to return to their old habits, it remains uncertain how quickly and easily the revenue generating ability of clubs will return to pre-pandemic levels,” the report explained.

Here’s how the 12 teams in the Super League have seen their bank balances change since the start of the Covid crisis.

  1. Barcelona: Profits fell from £741million in 2019 to £627million last year
  2. Real Madrid: Profits fell from £668million in 2019 to £607million last year
  3. Manchester United: Profits fell from £627million in 2019 to £509million last year
  4. Liverpool: Profits fell from £533million in 2019 to £490million last year
  5. Manchester City: Profits fell from £538million in 2019 to £482million last year
  6. Chelsea: Profits fell from £451million in 2019 to £412million last year
  7. Tottenham: Profits fell from £459million in 2019 to £391million last year
  8. Juventus: Profits fell from £405million in 2019 to £349million last year
  9. Arsenal: Profits fell from £392million in 2019 to £340million last year
  10. Atletico Madrid: Profits fell from £324million in 2019 to £291million last year
  11. Inter Milan: Profits fell from £321million in 2019 to £256million last year
  12. AC Milan: Profits fell from £178million in 2019 to £128million last year

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