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The Goal Rich List 2013: Rules of Engagement

This list comprises a wealth index of current and active professional footballers, as measured by their identifiable wealth. Those who qualify for the list include Fifa registered professional players of all nationalities in any professional league across the world - or registered players currently without a club, but who are actively looking to sign for a professional club.

We attempt to measure only identifiable assets including salaries, length of contract, bonuses, endorsement and sponsorship deals, accounts filed at Companies House, properties and other business interests.

We have no access to bank accounts and do not attempt to compromise player privacy in any way. As a result, cash holdings in private accounts are not considered in this research and so actual wealth may vary slightly from the figures we have concluded.

Business interests may include stakes in quoted companies as of 31 December 2012. It is much more difficult valuing stakes in private companies. We try as a general rule, to base valuations on the prevailing price/earnings ratio for a sector or an equivalent quoted company. Business interests under the name of a spouse or other family members cannot always be accounted for, but where this is possible these have been taken into account.

We do not rely on gossip or other tittle-tattle in compiling this list. Most of the player information has been sourced from public sources such as company accounts lodged in Companies House or international equivalents.

We have also drawn upon the expertise of reputable sources such as France Football, Forbes, The Financial Times, Four Four Two magazine, The Times, the Mail on Sunday, sportingintelligence.com, SportsPro Media, Transfermarkt and Deloitte. We have also spoken to and utilised the expertise and knowledge of a number of player agents, marketing experts and club sources.

We only use private information about individuals if it has been published already in reputable newspapers, magazines or reference work or is known by reputable sources within the football and related industries, but information gathered from players is not always verifiable with absolute certainty.

Where currency values have had to be converted, we have used currency valuations as of 31 December 2012 and we have not included the financial aspects of any deals or renegotiations that players may have enjoyed after 31 December 2012.

We have applied national tax rates for high-earners as follows:


  1. Tax is 50%, falling to 45% in April


  1. Tax is 45%, but a ‘complimentary tax’ came in as of Jan 2012 up to 7%, effectively meaning players (earning over €300,000 a year) could pay a tax rate of up to 52%


  1. Top earners could pay 45% in tax - 75% tax rate planned for players earning over €1,000,000 a year


  1. Players expected to pay 45% tax


  1. Tax rate of 43% for players


  1. Tax rate for top earners of 27.5%


  1. Tax rate for players of 35%


  1. Qatar is tax-free for players


  1. Tax rate for players is low, standing at 13%


  1. Tax rate of 45% for players

It is worth noting that top earners in football across Western Europe typically pay less than 30% tax thanks to favoured tax-avoidance measures, such as donating to charity.

The tax rates for high-earners vary across Europe. For example, there have been many reports of the 75% tax rate in France and the impact on footballers. However, the real issue is that for international players (arriving from overseas) they are often tax equalised - so that the tax over and above overseas rates are borne by the club.  So when you read of £100,000 a week salaries - that is often net of tax for overseas players.  

It is also worth noting that many players set up businesses to receive income such as image rights and endorsements, to be able to pay less tax, ie corporation tax (28% in the UK).

Transfer fees - payments to players

With regards to payments due to players following a transfer, we have worked on the premise that young players can receive on average between 10-15% of any profit the player’s club makes on their transfer fee.

In the UK, very few players tend not to receive a percentage of their transfer fee, although this is negotiable on a player-by-player basis. In Spain, Holland and other leading European countries, these fees are more common and are typically closer to 15% of fees received when they move to higher-profile leagues for big fees.

Unfortunately in many cases where players arrive in Europe from South America, they are exploited by agents and tend not to receive a percentage of their transfer fees.

British-based players can earn lump sums from transfers through their signing on fees. If a player has four years left on a contract with a signing on fee worth £250,000 a year, when transferred he will receive the £1million in full immediately and also additional signing on payments from his new club. They will also be able to negotiate contract settlements, particularly in cases where the club is happy to sell the player.


The bonus figures we have quoted are basic bonuses for team success, but don’t include individual signing-on fees, image rights or loyalty payments, unless otherwise stated.

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