Investment in soccer is currently at an all-time high, as a result so are the levels of debt that clubs are incurring. Stadium construction costs, player salaries, and increasingly expensive transfer fees are all major contributing factors to the enormous levels of debt incurred by the world’s top soccer clubs. These clubs stand to make enormous profits if they can overcome their financial obligations and soccer clubs have become a trendy investment for billionaires around the world.
Clubs have offset their ever increasing costs by passing on the expenses to the fans. Ticket and merchandise prices continue to increase for fans desperate to see their favorite clubs take the pitch and wear the gear of their heroes. These fans are the lifeblood of the sport, which relies on their continued investment and attention in order for the businesses to remain solvent. Savvy fans that wish to see changes in their club have staged protests and boycotts to achieve what they view as necessary changes for the benefit of the club.
In soccer, as in all businesses, a certain level of debt is acceptable. However, some of these clubs have grown increasingly unstable because of their excessive debts. Several have experienced recent changes in ownership or structure. Others have had to make sacrifices in order to offset the cost of building new stadia. The trend of enormous spending in soccer does not look to be changing anytime soon. With that being said, here are the twenty clubs that have amassed the most debt.
20 Borussia Dortmund - €55.3 million
19 Manchester City - €69 million
18 Tottenham Hotspur - €70.4 million
17 West Ham - €98.6 million
16 Sunderland – €100 million
15 Arsenal - €119 million
14 Liverpool - €146 million
13 Atletico Madrid - €168 million
12 Newcastle United - €170 million
11 Inter Milan - €178 million
10 Juventus - €206 million
9 Bolton Wanderers - €209 million
8 Queens Park Rangers - €226 million
7 Aston Villa - €242 million
6 AC Milan - €250 million
5 Barcelona - €287 million
4 Valencia - €320 million
3 Manchester United - €377.8 million
2 Real Madrid - €602 million
1 Chelsea - €1,225 billion
Chelsea is in a unique position in that all of their existing club debt is owned by a holding company, which insulates both the club and their billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. The Russian oligarch has pumped cash into the club since taking over as the owner, and recently spent in excess of £80 million this summer to bring Diego Costa, Felipe Luiz, Cesc Fabregas, and Loic Remy to the club. So far in this season, his investment seems to be paying dividends. Diego Costa has racked up eight goals in five matches, while Cesc Fabregas has contributed several crucial assists.
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