Premier League Soccer's Pay Gap Is Bigger Than HSBC, Goldman

Updated on
  • Manchester City says women earn 88 percent less than men
  • Clubs’ pay differential skewed by male stars’ compensation

While some clubs field women’s teams, members are paid considerably less.

Photographer: Chelsea Football Club via Getty Images

Soccer players’ multimillion-pound salaries have made the male-female pay gap at England’s Premier League clubs the biggest in the U.K., even larger than the disparity at banks HSBC Holdings Plc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Manchester City, the runaway leader on the field, said women earn 88 percent less than men on an hourly basis. That’s one of the biggest differences yet disclosed under new U.K. regulations requiring large employers to publish the gap between male and female pay. Other clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton, posted similarly large disparities.

Manchester City, in a move copied by other teams, said that if the first-team players and senior coaching staff are excluded, the gap comes down to 16 percent, which is below the national average of 17.4 percent.

“Manchester City is reviewing its gender pay gap to provide the club with an improved understanding and insight into the various factors which contribute to this complex issue,” Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano said.

Until Thursday’s reports, the biggest U.K. pay discrepancy was retailer Phase Eight’s 65 percent, with banks HSBC and Goldman Sachs just behind. The Premier League teams, which have spent much of the past year at odds with each other over their share of 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) of broadcast revenue, appeared to bond over the gender-pay issue. Instead of reporting their figures piecemeal, most major clubs were expected to disclose them Thursday, just ahead of the April 4 deadline, thereby reducing individual scrutiny.

Women’s Teams

The Premier League’s male players earn an average of 2.64 million pounds a year, according to researcher Sporting Intelligence. While some clubs also field women’s teams, members are paid considerably less. And many of the back-office workers are female.

“It should be noted that our senior leadership team within football operations, including the first-team manager, are all male, which significantly contributes to the club’s gender pay data,” Liverpool CEO Peter Moore said. The club reported a wage gap of 78 percent, but said that dropped to 35 percent when players were excluded.

Although the popularity of women’s soccer is growing, attendance averages around 1,000 for the top female league, compared with more than 75,000 at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium last season.

Last July, a lower-tier professional club, Lewes, decided to pay its women’s team the same as its men’s team as part of a campaign to raise awareness about gender inequality.

“The publication of this data will lead to a debate about the role of female footballers, and questions will be asked about whether there’s a bunch of men deciding that men’s sport is more commercially viable than the women’s game,” said Charles Cotton of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

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