When it comes to club football, teams in England have a very open relationship with money. Major income, such as prize money and TV deals, are regularly reported, as are major expenses like transfer fees, salaries, new stadium builds and many other things. Especially at the higher levels, you can even find out, quite easily, how much money owners are injecting into their clubs themselves.
Some football clubs are dependent on their wealthy owner to make up the shortfall, allowing them to pay for salaries and other running costs they could not afford otherwise. What about with international football though? The England National Team does not have an owner in the same way a league club does, so who is exactly covering all the expenses involved? In this article, we’ll outline the costs involved in running the England team and we’ll explain who ultimately covers them.
When it comes to the England National Team it is the English Football Association (FA) that is in charge of covering all ‘standard’ expenses. Whether it is travel, room bookings, catering or packs of cards for the team bus, these are all things that come out of their account. They are also the ones that will pay the salary of the England manager and all other coaching, medical and other support staff.
There is also the not insignificant matter of player salaries. England players do not receive the kind of money they get at their clubs for playing, but they are entitled to an appearance fee reported to be £2,000. It has long been customary for players not to keep this money for themselves though, and instead donate it to the England Football Foundation which distributes the money to various charities.
Players also collect prize money linked to the team’s performance in major tournaments. When reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, the England players received (an average of) £217,000 each. By the time of the Euro 2020, the figure for winning stood at £461,000 per player, representing an overall prize pot of £11m. Unlike with the much smaller appearance fee, this is not money players would be expected to donate to charity.
Running an international football team, one that requires a lot of specialist staff and regularly features at major tournaments, clearly does not come cheap. So, where exactly does the money coming from?
One huge expense that the FA is not responsible for, or at least not primarily responsible for, is paying prize money. The reported total prize pot for the World Cup in 2022 is $440m, this is performance related but there is a guaranteed amount for every team just for showing up. The participation reward stands at $2.5m while there is a $45m prize for winning the tournament. This amount of cash is not remotely unusual as you will see a similar rewards package for the likes of the Champions League and Europa League.
It is UEFA (if the European Championships) or FIFA (if the World Cup) that is responsible for these payments. The FA is not coughing up these huge amounts of money to pay the England players, nor are they contributing to the total pot. They might, however, have some performance-related bonuses of their own. It was reported in 2021 that Gareth Southgate would receive a six-figure bonus, in addition to his annual £3m salary, if his side won Euro 2020.
In the build-up to major tournaments, you will often find England players starring in adverts for various companies or doing other promotional work. They are not doing this voluntarily though, no doubt they would rather be doing something else with their spare time. In such cases, the England players will be funded by the companies themselves (the money might go through the FA first). Fees can vary for this but one advert is likely to see any involved player earn tens of thousands of pounds.
Who Funds the FA?
Although some money the England players receive does not come from the FA, most payments and all of the more day-to-day expenses, plus match fees are covered by the governing body. The FA generates much of their costs independently in a variety of different ways:
- Broadcasting Rights – This makes up the largest portion of the FA’s revenue as it is worth hundreds of millions of pounds (England internationals and FA Cup).
- Sponsorship – The FA Cup has regularly been sponsored over the years, most recently by airline company Emirates. The original deal, penned in 2015 (extended in 2021) was worth a sizeable £10m a season.
- Tickets – The FA collects the gate receipts for England internationals and for a packed Wembley stadium, this will be a seven-figure sum.
- Fines – Although a smaller revenue stream, it is worth mentioning that the FA does gain some money through fining players. Even amateur players across the country have to pay £10 to £55 for a card but five-figure fines have been handed out to Premier League players, managers and/or teams. These can be for things such as breaching rules on gambling or sponsorship, racial abuse, or inappropriate comments about referees.
- Merchandise – It is possible to get your hands on a wide range of authentic England merchandise. Sold at the Wembley Stadium store and other retail outlets, every sale brings in more money to the FA. They will only get a relatively small fraction of shirt sales though, but only because Nike paid £400m for a 12-year deal to be England’s dedicated shirt manufacturer.
This is not a complete list but it does show you that the FA has numerous different revenue streams that enables it to rake in a lot of money. At the end of the 2020/21 season, the FA’s total turnover was £443m (up from £335m the previous season) resulting in an operating gain of £132m (up from £9.8m). As a not-for-profit organisation, they do not keep hold of this money, rather it is pumped into grassroots football and given to selected charities.
Is the FA Funded by Taxpayers?
Many people are of the assumption that is it taxpayers’ money that funds the England national team. Although this is a false assumption on the whole, there is a small element of truth in it. When building the new Wembley stadium, the home of the national team and a building owned by the FA, some of the expenditure was covered by tax funds via Sport England (£120m) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (£20m). Sport England is not entirely government funded, as it receives National Lottery revenue, but it is partly funded by the taxpayer.
Looking at it from this way, you could perhaps argue the England football team relies on some tax-payer money. It is not an entirely convincing argument though as this was just a one-off cost and otherwise the FA is self-sustaining and requires no tax-payer funds. They do receive several million each year from Sport England but this is to fund projects such as getting young people into the sport. The money the FA receives through this has no bearing on the international team whatsoever.