Latest West Ham finances reveal just how much Premier League clubs rely on TV money

West Ham - Upton Park: Boleyn Ground

West Ham United have announced record income figures but their annual accounts for last year show just how much Premier League clubs rely on TV cash.

In a statement released on the club's official website on Thursday evening, the Hammers have lifted the lid on a 'record-breaking year'.

All areas of income at the club have increased and is up by £6 million on the year before, from £114.8m to £120.7m.

Match receipts totalled £20million while the East London club's commercial activities brought in £14.5million. Retail and merchandising rose from £6.3million to £7.3million last year.

The club also announced a second consecutive group operating profit of £3m, some achievement in the modern era with a growing trend of clubs operating at huge deficits.

Underneath the piles of money lies a worrying trend

But underneath all the positivity there is an increasingly worrying trend developing which is a sorry indictment of most Premier League clubs in the modern era.

And that is that England's elite have become so reliant on the huge television money to the point that without it they would be operating at huge losses.

In West Ham's case, last year's TV revenue was £79m of the £121m total. Fantastic, you might think? Not when you look closer.

If you take away the TV income, it leaves just £42m income and West Ham's wage bill was £73m, leaving a deficit without TV money of -£31m.

Could the bubble burst?

Yes, clearly the TV revenue and wage bill are intrinsically linked and if the TV money was lower or was no longer there, wages would drop accordingly.

But it does beg the concerning question of just what would happen if the Premier League bubble and the billions that is poured in by TV companies such as Sky and BT was to burst in the near future.

Lessons are already there from the not too distant past.

The collapse of Setanta Sports, which had a £110 deal to show a select number of Premier League and FA Cup matches, was as recently as 2009. That saw a fire sale of the rights to their various sport offerings.

Before that, in 2002, ITV Digital was put into administration because it could no longer afford its multi-million pound contract with the Football League.

Up to 30 football clubs faced the threat of going out of business as the wheels fell off its £315m contract for Nationwide League and Worthington Cup matches.

Do fans care about financial prudence?

Will fans care about financial prudence, though, while their club is using the money to sign the likes of Dimitri Payet, Hammer of the Year Aaron Cresswell, top striker Diafra Sakho and internationals such as Cheikhou Kouyate, Enner Valencia, Angelo Ogbonna and Alex Song?

It also puts into perspective the old cliche thrown at footballers by fans who say 'we pay your wages'.

Well the fact of the matter is, nowadays the income produced by the dedicated fans who attend matches and purchase merchandise does not even account for half of the squad's wage bill.

A sobering thought indeed.

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