Global Football League - Which Clubs Would Feature?

Updated: 993 Football

Global Football League - Which Clubs Would Feature?
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

Global Football League

With the Summer 2023 transfer window all but slammed shut, the Premier League has again displayed its financial might. Although the top tier of English football was considered strong in the past, it has flexed its monetary muscle in the past few weeks.

Especially when you consider that the competition spent more on players than the other four leagues of Europe’s big five combined (La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A) and when that happens, you know there is a considerable imbalance in the beautiful game.

For all the talk of the bubble bursting, the Premier League only seems to be growing further. Whether this is to the detriment of their continental counterparts is a point beginning to be argued with some passion.

The European leagues want what the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have, it is something that Barcelona and Real Madrid used to have in spades and that is the ability to buy the best players in global football.

With jealousy always considered a rather ugly trait, the Spanish giants have made no secret of their displeasure. Because their own spending power has been dwarfed in recent years, you can understand why they were so keen on a European Super League.

Then again, what if we were to go one better? What about a Global Football League as a more exciting alternative? One that does not pit teams together but measures the values of each competition instead.

In order to do this, we have used this methodology:

  1. Take the overall worth of a club – measured by the total transfer value of each player (e.g. Manchester City)

  2. As Manchester City plays in the Premier League, we repeat step 1 with each of the other 19 clubs in the competition

  3. Total up all respective clubs in the competition to then obtain the Premier League’s overall worth

  4. Repeat with 25 other major leagues to build our Global Football League

THE OVERWHELMING CHAMPIONS

Our Global Football League has welcomed 26 competitions through its doors to finally settle the debate regarding which is the very best competition in the land. A discussion that, when looking at the data, is emphatically won by the Premier League.

When looking at the total value of player worth at the end of August 2023, English football’s jewel in the crown is worth a staggering €10.4bn – a figure worth more than Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A combined.

With the Spanish and Italian top tiers worth €4.8bn and €4.5bn, respectively, they currently find themselves in the same bracket as Germany’s Bundesliga, which is not too far behind with a worth of €4.1bn.

This means that the other member of Europe’s big five is somewhat behind in the distance, as Ligue 1 is only worth €3.4bn by comparison, and it is fair to say that PSG will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

That is because the EFL Championship is the sixth most valuable league at present at a value of €1.7bn. It may only be 50% the value of Ligue 1 in fifth but one should not forget that we are talking about a second-tier league. 

Especially as the EFL Championship is currently worth more than the likes of Liga Portugal, MLS and the Eredivisie and this highlights just how desperate their 24 teams are to reach the promised land of the Premier League eventually.

At the bottom end of the scale, Australia’s A-League is worth just €79m for the competition as a whole and if you had 100 of this competition all running in parallel, their total value would still not be more than the Premier League.

While there is another Asian competition that is struggling toward the bottom of the table and that is the Chinese Super League. At a worth of just €148m the gold rush is undoubtedly over, as even the most prominent clubs face substantial financial difficulties.

League Aug 2023 Sum Data
Premier League €10,456,860,000
LaLiga €4,668,650,000
Serie A €4,504,990,000
Bundesliga €4,144,760,000
Ligue 1 €3,464,830,000
Championship €1,702,670,000
Série A €1,460,720,000
Liga Portugal €1,274,970,000
MLS €1,247,060,000
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MAKING THINGS NORMAL

Although the table above will provide insight into where the money is, the picture may also be distorted simultaneously because all the leagues operate with a different number of clubs.

For example, suppose the EFL Championship is totalled up from 24 clubs. In that case,

it will have a far more significant advantage than its Scottish Premiership counterpart which only has half that number of entrants.

Therefore, the next step is to normalise the data and we do it by only accounting for the top 10 clubs (per overall transfer value) per league and then building our Global Football League table from there. When we do that, it looks as follows: 


League Aug 2023 Sum Data
Premier League €7,820,650,000
LaLiga €3,818,750,000
Serie A €3,598,690,000
Bundesliga €3,468,110,000
Ligue 1 €2,936,350,000
Championship €1,220,430,000
Liga Portugal €1,175,170,000
Série A €998,080,000
Eredivisie €904,050,000
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Unsurprisingly the Premier League is still top of the shop and even when you take only half the clubs into account, the overall worth of the competition drops from €10.4bn to €7.8bn – something that further highlights the dominance of their top half dozen clubs. 

Once again, the trio of La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga are bunched together between second and fourth. There is only €350m separating the three competitions, as their respective values range from €3.8bn to €3.4bn.

As before, it is Ligue 1 and the EFL Championship that round out the top six. However, there is very little distance between the best of England’s second tier and the very best teams that Portugal has to offer. 

Here it seems as if normalising the data has allowed the likes of Benfica and FC Porto to flourish, whereas before they were being weighed down by the relative minnows that compete in the same division.

In eighth is the first non-European league, as Brazil’s version of Serie A nestles into the top ten. While both the Dutch Eredivisie and the Turkish Süper Lig in ninth and tenth benefit from the same normalisation benefits as their Portuguese counterparts. 

The EFL Championship is flourishing and by comparison, the Scottish Premiership, which hosts the duopoly of Rangers and Celtic, finds itself lying 16th in the table with a normalised worth of €315m – some €33m less than the Austrian Bundesliga, which finds itself a position above.

Again, at the bottom end of the scale, there is little to write about Asian football. Like in the first table, the Chinese Super League and A-League are currently in the bottom two.

However, Japan’s J1 League is also on the slide. After having an overall worth of €251m in the first table, €93m has been shaved off when looking at their top 10 clubs in isolation – highlighting the weakness of the transfer market in most of Asia.

WINDOW TO WINDOW

League Feb 2023 Sum Data Aug 2023 Sum Data % Difference
Saudi Pro League €284,680,000 €867,520,000 204.74%
Championship €766,800,000 €1,220,430,000 59.16%
Liga Portugal €1,043,560,000 €1,175,170,000 12.61%
Premier Liga €235,740,000 €261,010,000 10.72%
MLS €485,660,000 €536,650,000 10.50%
Chinese Super League €112,730,000 €124,030,000 10.02%
Premier League €7,138,200,000 €7,820,650,000 9.56%
Super liga Srbije €192,140,000 €207,780,000 8.14%
Ligue 1 €2,734,850,000 €2,936,350,000 7.37%
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If we rank the leagues in terms of league value growth, we can see there is one competition that is head and shoulders above the rest and unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard about the financial dealings of the Saudi Pro League.

Not content with getting hold of Cristiano Ronaldo at the start of 2023, the league has now become nothing short of a gold rush. The football revolution has come to Saudi Arabia and it is making a handful of players rather rich.

The likes of Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante have since made the switch and that is only just the start of the ever-growing list of world-class talents have left Europe behind – a list that now includes Brazilian superstar Neymar.

Since the previous data capture, the value of the Saudi Pro League has grown by 204.74% and now has a normalised worth of €867.5m. Admittedly it does not sound a lot when compared to the Premier League’s near €8bn but you do also get the feeling that the Saudi’s have only just begun.

Just as they have revolutionised the sport of golf, they also want to do the same to football. This will not happen overnight, as it takes time to build a league’s worth and profile but they are certainly going about things in the right way.

To the point where there is already talk for what happens next? Will it be that one of their clubs earns a wildcard entry to the Champions League in 2025 and beyond, could it even be the formation of a World Super League?

Because for all this recent largesse, there is no doubt that this Middle Eastern powerhouse will not want to play in footballing isolation. Simply put, they want to be invited to the biggest parties and if you cannot earn an invite, then you simply gatecrash it instead it.

At the other end of the scale, it does not make good reading for the A-League. In the space of just six months, it has lost a normalised value of €18m and although the Saudi Pro League is not a direct comparison, Australia’s top-tier has started to lose some of its appeal.

Whereas a place in the sun was a viable alternative for those looking to wind down their careers, this competition and the wages on offer are now dwarfed by those in the Middle East and the likes of Jordan Henderson would not give the A-League a second glimpse these days. 

EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE

One final way to look at the data is by determining which clubs contribute the most to their respective leagues. Instead of league overall totals, we are now going to look at the European powerhouse and the standings look as follows:

Team League Current value
Manchester City Premier League €1.25bn
Arsenal FC Premier League €1.21bn
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 €1.02bn
Real Madrid LaLiga €998.00m
Chelsea FC Premier League €980.95m
Bayern Munich Bundesliga €969.20m
Manchester United Premier League €870.30m
Liverpool FC Premier League €801.30m
FC Barcelona LaLiga €784.00m
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As you can see it is almost neck and neck between Manchester City and Arsenal as they battle it out for the championship crown. With both outfits amassing over €1bn of overall value, these two clubs alone are worth more than 15 leagues' full value (regardless of how many clubs per division).

A staggering insight into where the money flows another staggering insight is the fact that eight of the top 20 clubs in the table above operate in the Premier League and the likes of Aston Villa and Brighton are not far away either. 

Eight teams from the Premier League, 12 from across Europe. Almost a clear line of distinction and of those teams from the continent, a trio representing La Liga, a quartet for both Serie A and the Bundesliga and PSG are flying the flag for Ligue 1.

This means if someone were to ask you to design a European Super League with the continent’s best clubs, their final list would not be all that far away from what we have conjured up and this only further highlights how strong the Premier League is right now.

Methodology

  1. Take the overall worth of a club – measured by the total transfer value of each player (e.g. Manchester City)

  2. As Manchester City plays in the Premier League, we repeat step 1 with each of the other 19 clubs in the competition

  3. Total up all respective clubs in the competition to then obtain the Premier League’s overall worth

  4. Repeat with 25 other major leagues to build our Global Football League


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