The 2021/22 Premier League season is rapidly coming to a close, and in an unmissably open-ended fashion.
Liverpool and Manchester City will joust for the Premier League crown on the final day of the season, with victory enough to see City retain the title, but Liverpool breathing down their necks in search of a historic quadruple trophy haul.
It’s all action moving down the table, too. Arsenal have emerged as pole sitters to secure Champions League football and must fight off pressure from north London rivals Tottenham, who have also made an unexpected dash for the top four following the appointment of Antonio Conte.
The battle for a top half finish is wide open, as is the race for a Europa League finish, with West Ham only needing a Manchester Unitedslip-up on the final day of the season to put them in position to leapfrog the Red Devils for seventh place.
Down at the bottom of the table, Norwich and Watford have already been confirmed as relegated, but the battle to avoid being the third and final team to join them has shown no signs of letting up. Everton, Burnley and Leeds all continue to scrap to avoid the drop, as fine margins amount to significant effects for clubs going forward – often financially.
Everybody knows just how lucrative a place in the English top-flight is, but what makes it more interesting is knowing the specific financial implications of each position in the Premier League.
The Athletic conducted a deep dive into the finances that go into the league from top to bottom each season, and the differences are fascinating.
All clubs take the same, central share from television rights and commercial revenue from the £2.5 billion prize pot, while each position in the Premier League is estimated to be worth around £2.2m.
Obviously, though, not all clubs come away with the exact same money at the end of a season. Merit payments mean that clubs earn more money the higher up the table they finish, and vice versa. The Athletic estimates that the 2021/22 Premier League winners will pocket £44m in merit payments, while the team who places 20th will earn just £2.2m
In between, the value jumps up by around £2.2m with each position gained, dispelling the myth that sides in mid-table positions have ‘nothing to play for’ at the end of the season. Actually, that jostle in the mid-table could be the difference of around £10m-14m for the biggest winners and losers; a huge sum for sides looking to build their status.
Considering that just five points separate ninth-placed Leicester from 14th-placed Newcastle ahead of the final week of the season, there is potentially an extra £10m up for grabs. And with sides still having games in hand to play before the final day, the league table could yet be all change.
Avoiding relegation is also key. Not only is there an extra £2.2m for finishing one spot above the drop zone, relegation could prove costly to a club’s access to television revenues and their own sponsor partnership opportunities, and that’s without considering trying to recruit new players.
Estimated Premier League merit payments by finishing position
1st – £44m
2nd – £41.8m
3rd – £39.6m
4th – £37.4m
5th – £35.2m
6th – £33m
7th – £30.8m
8th – £28.6m
9th – £26.4m
10th – £24.2m
11th – £22m
12th – £19.8m
13th – £17.6m
14th – £15.4m
15th – £13.2m
16th – £11m
17th – £8.8m
18th – £6.6m
19th – £4.4m
20th – £2.2m