Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi celebrates the 2-1 win during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Liverpool at The American Express Community Stadium , Brighton , UK - 29th January 2023

Comparing every Premier League club’s wage bill to its final league position

Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle United and Arsenal are the Premier League’s biggest overachievers this season, while Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Leicester City are among the division’s biggest underachievers.

At least, that’s the case if you believe a club’s wage bill is a marker – more or less – or where they should be in the table.

The club with the lowest wage bill in the English top flight are Brentford, who finished ninth and mounted a genuine challenge for European qualification. Thomas Frank’s Bees boast one of the biggest discrepancies – for better or worse – between their current league position and their expenditure on wages.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s story is a similar fairytale. The Seagulls secured Europa League qualification, which is something of a minor miracle when you consider how little their squad cost to assemble, and that their wage bill is just £28.3million – the third-lowest in the division.

Newcastle United may be entering a new era of investment, but they’re definitely punched above their weight to finish fourth in the table.

You’d expect the wage bill of Eddie Howe’s squad (£62.6million – tenth in the division) to grow in the coming years, but for now they’re doing incredibly well to finish above the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool in the table.

Arsenal have a relatively modest wage bill of £85.4million, which is the lowest of the traditional ‘big six’. Expect the Gunners’ wage bill to rise as they grow further in the coming years.

Title winners Manchester City have famously spent big over recent years, but they’re currently outspent by Manchester United and Chelsea when it comes to wages.

Manchester United currently spend more than any other club in England on wages, which underlines just quite how poor it was for them to finish sixth with a record-low points tally in 2021-22

They have shown improvement this year under Erik ten Hag, finishing third and returning to the Champions League, but they’re arguably still not quite be where they ought to given their expenditure on transfers and wages.

Chelsea (who spend £169.7million on wages – the second-most in the Premier League) spectacularly underperformed and finished down in the bottom half. Mauricio Pochettino has much work to do.

However, it’s actually Leicester City, who are now contemplating trips to Bristol, Plymouth and Preston next season despite boasting the biggest wage bill outside the ‘big six’, that are doing worst in comparison to their outlay on wages.

Elsewhere, clubs like Tottenham, Wolves, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace’s league positions aren’t far off where their wage bill ranks.

We’ve listed every Premier League single club by their league position in comparison to their wage bill, ranking them in order of the biggest differences between the two.

Note: All wage bill data is via FBref.com, who source their numbers from Capology. 

League Position: 6th
Wage bill: 18th
Total wage bill: £28.3million
Difference: +12

League Position: 9th
Wage bill: 20th
Total wage bill: £15.2million
Difference: +11

Newcastle United
League Position: 4th
Wage bill: 10th
Total wage bill: £62.6million
Difference: +6

League Position: 2nd
Wage bill: 6th
Total wage bill: £85.4million
Difference: +4

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League Position: 10th
Wage bill: 14th
Total wage bill: £37.6million
Difference: +4

Manchester City
League Position: 1st
Wage bill: 3rd
Total wage bill: £163million
Difference: +2

Nottingham Forest
League Position: 16th
Wage bill: 17th
Total wage bill: £28.5million
Difference: +1

Aston Villa
League Position: 7th
Wage bill: 8th
Total wage bill: £75.2million
Difference: +1

Leeds United
League Position: 19th
Wage bill: 19th
Total wage bill: £17.3million
Difference: =

League Position: 16th
Wage bill: 16th
Total wage bill: £32million
Difference: =

League Position: 13th
Wage bill: 13th
Total wage bill: £38.3million
Difference: =

Crystal Palace
League Position: 11th
Wage bill: 11th
Total wage bill: £59.1million
Difference: =

League Position: 5th
Wage bill: 4th
Total wage bill: £141.7million
Difference: -1

Manchester United
League Position: 3rd
Wage bill: 1st
Total wage bill: £222.9million
Difference: -2

League Position: 8th
Wage bill: 5th
Total wage bill: £101.3million
Difference: -3

League Position: 20th
Wage bill: 15th
Total wage bill: £35.3million
Difference: -5

League Position: 17th
Wage bill: 12th
Total wage bill: £43.1million
Difference: -5

West Ham United
League Position: 14th
Wage bill: 9th
Total wage bill: £70.1million
Difference: -5

League Position: 12th
Wage bill: 2nd
Total wage bill: £169.7million
Difference: -10

League Position: 18th
Wage bill: 7th
Total wage bill: £78.7million
Difference: -11

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