Leicester’s 5,000-1 title miracle has put them on course to be one of the richest 15 football clubs in the world next season, leapfrogging some of the game’s most stellar names — AC Milan included, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Leicester were No 24 on the world’s rich list for 2014-15 with income of £104million. For the current campaign MoS analysis shows they will climb into the top 20 with income of about £125m.
But next season they will reap the rewards of the Premier League’s massively increased TV deals and the Champions League.
Leicester City’s player celebrate after lifting the Premier League trophy following their win over Everton
Leicester captain Wes Morgan and boss Claudio Ranieri crown a day they’ll never forget by lifting the trophy
Analysis by the MoS shows that, even with a top-eight finish next term and group-stage elimination in Europe, their income should surge to £210m. Back-to-back wonder-seasons with a top-four finish and progress to the Champions League knockout stages could take that to £260m.
To put this into context, Milan had income of ‘only’ £151.5m last season to be the world’s 14th richest club and will make not much more this season and perhaps a little more next season.
Milan, by their own standards, are enduring a rough few seasons. But they are 18-times champions of Italy, seven-times European Cup winners (only Real Madrid with 10 have more) and are a genuinely global brand. And next season, whether by £210m to £160m or by £260m to £160m, little Leicester City are going to put them well and truly in the shade.
Our forecast will make Leicester about the 12th or 13th richest club in the world next season, barring a catastrophic collapse and relegation.
Their title miracle has put them on course to be one of the richest 15 football clubs in the world next season
They could become richer than seven-times European Cup winners AC Milan, barring a catastrophic collapse
The Premier League’s worldwide popularity also means Leicester are already vying to be among the biggest 10 most-watched teams in any sport after the attention this season has brought them — bigger even than some storied mega-teams like baseball’s New York Yankees.
From one of the least-watched Premier League teams last season (using global TV data seen by this newspaper) to the sixth-best watched this season, Leicester are closing on the league’s five ‘global brand’ teams — Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City — at least for the tail end of this glorious season.
The stars do appear to have aligned for Leicester to achieve this stunning feat. Whether they will be able to repeat it is in doubt, however.
Below we examine six things that went right — and why it might be hard to match again.
Leicester could also be more-watched than baseball’s New York Yankees (pictured is their stadium)
What went right: Vital players were hired for little or nothing and blossomed to become household names intrinsic to the team’s success. Jamie Vardy (£1million from Fleetwood in 2012), Riyad Mahrez (£400,000 from Le Havre in 2014) and N’Golo Kante (£5.6m from Caen last summer) are the standouts but Christian Fuchs (free from Schalke last June) was another example of a canny acquisition of a man with huge experience.
Hard to repeat? Leicester do not strike gold every time, with £9m Andrej Kramaric a case in point, and little-used £5m Gokhan Inler. Vardy took a few years to shine and Mahrez needed to acclimatise.
In theory, other clubs can buy economically and well — some already do, such as Southampton.
Jamie Vardy (right), a £1m signing from Fleetwood in 2012, has notched 24 Premier League goals this season
N’Golo Kante (right), a £5,6m arrival from Caen last summer, is another player to have starred this campaign
What went right: The most recent figures available show Leicester’s wage bill was £57m last season and that will have risen to £70m-plus this term but still be in or near the bottom five in the Premier League.
Winning the league on such relatively small wage is unheard of. No club has ever won it when outside the top five wage spenders before and usually it is in the top three.
Hard to repeat? Success comes at a cost. Keeping brilliant footballers will involve paying some of them large raises.
Agents will agitate for more of the spoils. Buying new players to enrich the squad will become costlier. And predators will come for your best performers, as with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly circling Kante.
Kasper Schmeichel puts the Premier League crown on Claudio Ranieri’s head during the celebrations
Winning the league on such relatively small wage is unheard of but Leicester have proved critics wrong
FEWEST INJURIES 2015-16
1: Leicester 12 (313 days lost)
2: Swansea 14 (280 days lost)
3: Southampton 15 (475 days lost)
18: Man City 47 (1252 days lost)
19: Liverpool 47 (1742 days lost)
20: Newcastle 48 (2232 days lost)
PREMIER LEAGUE average:
30 (1,015 days lost)
Lack of injuries
What went right: Leicester’s ability to keep their players fresh and available has been astonishing, as figures from expert Ben Dinnery of PremierInjuries.com show.
This has been down to a combination of cutting edge technology (such as their cryotherapy ice chamber, GPS monitoring vests and NordBord hamstring strengthener), nutrition including beetroot shots and training patterns built around plenty of rest and sessions dependent on conditions such as pitch softness.
Hard to repeat? Not necessarily, which might itself be a problem as other clubs adopt proven methods, just as Arsene Wenger’s early nutritional and scientific innovations in the 1990s were quickly copied.
Scheduling rest will also become harder with a busier schedule involving the Champions League next season.
Vardy and his Leicester team-mates have stayed clear of injuries this season which has benefited the club
What went right: After being knocked out of the FA Cup on January 20, Leicester have had only Premier League games to focus on for the past four months, at an average of one per week.
They have excelled in these circumstances and will have played 43 games (all competitions, all season) by the end. By comparison, Tottenham will have played 53, Manchester City 59 and Liverpool 63.
Hard to repeat? It is instructive that Leicester’s worst spell of the campaign, one win in seven, came between Boxing Day and January 20, when they played seven times in 25 days. In 2015-16 they had an entirely England-based pre-season and comfortable schedule. In 2016-17 they will travel 12,000-miles plus in pre-season including to Los Angeles and play perhaps 50 plus games including long away treks in the Champions League.
Leicester were knocked out the FA Cup in January (pictured) which allowed them to focus solely on the league
What went right: Claudio Ranieri’s preference for 4-4-2 and his counter-attacking application have worked wonders. Leicester have had less of the ball than most teams (45 per cent possession, only Sunderland and West Brom average lower) and have the worst pass completion rate, at 70 per cent.
But with Jamie Vardy’s lethal combination of pace and finishing and Riyad Mahrez’s of assists and finishing, they have flourished.
Hard to repeat? One concern for Leicester has to be an over-reliance on those two players, who are ideal for their system and scorers respectively of 23 and 17 league goals.
For Leicester, 61 per cent (41 of 67) of their goals have come from those two players.
Losing one or both for an extended time would hurt. Leicester’s increasing rate of 1-0 wins — more than usual — is also likely to ‘revert to the mean’ (lessen), costing them points.
Ranieri’s preference for 4-4-2 and his counter-attacking application have worked wonders this season
What went right: There has never been a Premier League season where all the major pre-season favourites have under-performed to such an extent simultaneously.
Chelsea and Manchester United have flirted with their worst-ever Premier League seasons points-wise, Arsenal have only just avoided theirs, Manchester City are 25 points off their title-winning high of 2012 and Liverpool’s remould under Jurgen Klopp has not yet made them top-four contenders.
Hard to repeat? It is highly unlikely that all the ‘big guns’ will falter so badly simultaneously again.
City are already title favourites as they prepare to welcome new manager Pep Guardiola and are sure to spend big to provide him with new stars. Chelsea can hardly be worse than this season under new man Antonio Conte, United will surely improve, Liverpool already are and Arsenal, for all their faltering, will be top-four contenders.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side have failed to compete with Leicester for the league title this season
Liverpool’s remould under Jurgen Klopp has not yet made them Premier League top-four contenders
- 'Birdgirl' Mya-Rose Craig receives Bristol University honorary doctorate
- Manchester United set to drop Paul Pogba against Tottenham
- Germany declares all of Spain as 'risk area,' defends decision
- Man shot dead by French police after fatal stabbing spree near Paris
- New Zealand PM Ardern seeks to prevent Christchurch trial from being platform for hate
- VW European sales growth falls to a near-halt in November following emissions scandal