France's Richest Soccer Team Out-Earns 14 of Its Rivals Combined

  • Paris Saint-Germain had revenue of 484 million euros in 2015
  • Qatar-backed squad loads roster with stars like Ibrahimovic

Paris Saint-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Photographer: Elsa/Getty Images

Qatar-backed Paris Saint-Germain’s dominance on the soccer field in France is matched only by its financial clout: The team last year generated more income than 14 of its rivals put together.

PSG had revenue of 484 million euros ($547 million) in 2015, according to data released Tuesday by French soccer’s licensing authority. That’s more than four times the income of the league’s second-biggest cash generator, AS Monaco, which made 117.4 million euros, and 19 times that of the lowest earner, RC Lens.

Propelled by the largess of the gas-rich Qatari government, PSG has brought some of the planet’s best soccer players to a league that for years has been known to export its top talent to richer rivals in England and Spain. PSG won the league title this season with eight games to spare.

In the league-clinching 9-0 win over Troyes, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four goals. He’s among a roster filled with global stars including South American attackers Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani. Brazil national team defender David Luiz, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva compete on defense. The team’s 2015 payroll was 254.9 million euros, 2.5 times more than the next highest-wage payer, Marseille.

A PSG spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

‘Fair Value’

The biggest component of PSG’s income, 205 million euros, is booked under a category called “other products.” That probably refers to an agreement valued at as much as 200 million euros a year with the Qatar Tourism Authority. European soccer’s governing body has said in the past that the deal didn’t pass it’s “fair value” test when it assessed the finances of teams competing in elite European club competitions. Under its rules, teams must limit losses or face sanctions. In 2014, PSG received a record fine and was ordered to cut the size of its roster for breaking the rules.

The financial gulf in France is far higher than that in soccer’s richest league, England’s Premier League. Teams there share domestic and television revenue, with a portion of the income based on where teams finish in the league. Last season’s last-place team, Queens Park Rangers, got 64.9 million pounds ($94.6 million) in payments from the league, about 30 million pounds less than champion Chelsea. Teams make additional income from sponsorship, retail and ticket sales.

PSG’s helped push the league’s total revenue to 1.4 billion euros. Without PSG, the other 19 teams combined to generate 941 million euros, according to the data.

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