Chelsea’s wage bill has been overtaken by Manchester United’s for the first time in more than a decade, it has been revealed.
In 2004, the Roman Abramovich-owned club were reckoned to be the biggest payers in world football as Chelsea spent heavily to challenge United’s dominance.
Ten years on, and Manchester City are now easily the biggest payers in the Premier League, and Chelsea’s accounts lodged with Companies House show that they are now in third spot in the ‘wages league’ below United as well.
Chelsea’s wage bill in 2012/13 was £176million compared to £182million for Manchester United in the same season, while Manchester City’s was £233million.
Chelsea’s salary bill for the season also includes £4million paid during the course of the year to former manager Roberto Di Matteo – the accounts say the sum is for "termination payments and compensation in relation to changes in the first-team management structure".
The increasingly-prudent approach to wages at Chelsea reflects the club’s commitment to complying with UEFA’s financial fair play rules, where clubs in European competition can only record losses of 45million euros (£37.5m) during the first two-year accounting period.
Chelsea have also benefited from signing the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata before they were established superstars demanding huge salaries, which also has taken the pressure off the wage bill.