Liverpool ranked as Premier League’s most sustainable club
Premier League club Liverpool topped the first Fair Game Sustainability Index, which rates each club in the English top tier in the fields of financial sustainability, good governance, equality standards and fan engagement.
The Sustainability Index was developed by football reform group Fair Game, which worked with independent experts and organisations within the sport.
Out of the 20 Premier League clubs, Liverpool led the way in governance and scored highly in the Football Leadership Diversity Code, which makes up 50% of the governance score.
At the bottom of the table was Nottingham Forest, which had a financial rating of 1.0 out of a maximum score of 40. This score fell significantly behind the second-least financially solvent Bournemouth, with a score of 9.4.
Figures demonstrated that Forest spent 202% of their revenue on players’ wages, which is nearly triple the recommended 70%. The club’s financial liabilities were over twice its assets and its income revenue was less than half of what it owes in loans due in the next 12 months.
The financial criteria is built on standard accounting measures including credit ratio, debt ratio, loans and wages, with analysis of every club’s credit, debt, loans, revenues and wages.
The fan engagement aspect uses data from the Fan Engagement Index and how full a club’s stadium is on an average match day. The Equality Standards measure analyses board make-up and data from the Football Leadership Diversity Code looks at recruitment within football clubs.
"We’ve shown the challenges clubs face to become sustainable – vital in ensuing the history and traditions of football clubs, so cherished by supporters, are secure for the long term.”
Good Governance utilises data from Responsiball and the Sports Positive League, with further information on whether a club is deemed to be state-owned as defined by FairSquare.
Niall Couper, Chief Executive of Fair Game, said: “For the first time we have a measure that shows which clubs are well run. But equally we’ve shown the challenges clubs face to become sustainable – vital in ensuing the history and traditions of football clubs, so cherished by supporters, are secure for the long term.”
The top five Premier League clubs in the rankings are Liverpool, Southampton, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. When it comes to fan engagement, Everton, Brentford, Southampton, Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City and Fulham lead the way.
The index also highlights the impact of parachute payments on clubs in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Couper said that clubs outside of the Premier League were a “mess”, but said that the likes of Luton Town, Millwall and Bristol City were the “true winners” as they were building a sustainable future.
Couper added: “It isn’t just about finances. The Premier League, rightly, doesn’t want to give away more money to gambling clubs that are poorly run. We believe football lower down the pyramid needs more money, but it should be given to clubs that are well run – ones that look towards long-term sustainable revenue streams.
“What the index provides is the mechanism to distribute more money to clubs that are run well. Football needs to start incentivising good behaviour.”
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