Football Finances – how Brentford, Fulham, Millwall, QPR, Charlton Athletic, AFC Wimbledon, Leyton Orient and Sutton United fare

11 min

As clubs up and down the country publish their latest financial statements by the end of March, the figures offer an intriguing snapshot into how well-run (or not) they are. 

While the financial year for English clubs ends on June 30th, these accounts incorporate the 2021/22 campaign – the first full season not to be affected by coronavirus

The impact of the pandemic continues to be felt throughout the leagues and are reflected in the reports with EFL clubs in particular still struggling.

With so much to unpick, Andrew Smith (@andrewsmith819) caught up with Kieran Maguire, a lecturer on football finance at the University of Liverpool and the man behind the Price of Football

Below Kieran runs the rule over each of our London clubs while our club writers also have their on-the-pitch say as the figures show that every single club other than Brentford have lost money….


Kieran says: They’ve done extremely well financially and that tends to be the case for newly-promoted sides in their first Premier League campaign – they all make a profit. 

The challenge will actually be this season because in 2021/22 they had a lot of players who had just been promoted and therefore the club got away with minor pay rises, around the £30k mark.

Now all those players have proven themselves, their agents tend to demand the going rate for a Premier League player.

For instance, David Raya knows he’s had a good season and he’ll know that there are other Premier League clubs looking for good goalkeepers, so he’ll be looking for £100k-a-week or the club will have to sell him.

That will be the challenge for a club like Brentford moving forward – they’ve done fantastically well to get to where they are but they will now find that the money coming in will flatline and the money going out in terms of wages is going to significantly increase. 

Ahmed’s View (@Ahmed__Demha): Brentford are no strangers to seeing top talent depart and one of the key factors in their continued success is an impressive recruitment strategy which smartly scours for new players to replace those set to leave.

This season has once again demonstrated its effectiveness with the excellent performances of the likes of summer signing Aaron Hickey and there should be a great belief the club can continue to replace current stars who may feel the need to move on to further their careers.


Kieran says: Getting back into the Premier League was very, very expensive – they had the biggest wage bill in the history of the Championship and they lost an absolute fortune. 

European football could be a boost but generally speaking to Premier League executives, they don’t like the Europa Conference League because they don’t make any money from it and clubs often have to have bigger squads.

Similarly, you only make money from the Europa League from the Quarter-Finals onwards – it’s the Champions League where it’s at. 

I think it’s an extra £3m for every place further up the Premier League table you finish – that’s actually the most important thing for them rather than getting into Europe.

Tom’s View (@TomCramp_): Fulham have been haemorrhaging money in their quest to return to the Premier League on a long-term basis and owe a great deal of their financial buoyancy to owner Shahid Khan. His investment of roughly half a billion has allowed them to behave like a Premier League club even when relegated to the Championship. 

This season’s success has been fantastic to watch but a dip in form threatens the money earned from a higher league place with Financial Fair Play continuing to keep a watchful eye on Craven Cottage.


Kieran says: They have got a really good business model with the owner John Berylson effectively committed to putting around £10m a year into the club.

He delegates that to Steve Kavanagh, who’s an excellent CEO and a really smart guy who helps the club use their budget as best they can. 

What Millwall do is spend smarter than spend bigger and they’re actually quite good at it with their wage bill well below average as far as the Championship is concerned.  

They still lose money because every Championship club does but compared to their rivals at the top of the table, they don’t live beyond their means and are just a well-run club financially.

Ryan’s View (@RyanJamesLoftus): Despite no significant player sales in the last few years to balance the books, Millwall are still one of the Championship’s best run clubs. 

Owner Berylson has shown commitment to the cause time and time again – with this season being no exception. Along with Luton, the Lions are hoping to upset the bigger boys in the Play-Off race and become further proof that coherent planning and a long-term strategy is the best way to operate.


Kieran says: They lost almost half a million pounds a week and in comparison to the likes of Millwall, their wage bill is quite a bit higher.

They’re certainly not big spenders by Championship standards, but having not made any money from player sales, something which they had been reasonably successful at in previous years, it’s a challenging situation they find themselves in.

Those sales have effectively absorbed some of the losses in the past so for a club like QPR, they need to find a way to discover decent players to move them on for profit later down the line.

That is really the only way that they can remain competitive, and the 2021/22 season wasn’t a good period for them. 

Zach’s View (@zachbbarkerr): The sale of players such as Eberechi Eze to Crystal Palace have always been crucial to the way QPR operate, which is a real concern. 

And, without many names in the current squad likely to command a decent fee, it leaves the Hoops in a very precarious financial situation.

Charlton Athletic

Kieran says: They haven’t helped themselves by publishing their accounts at the last minute. 

Obviously, it’s a choice of the people that own the club to do so but my mantra is, if you’ve got nothing to hide, then hide nothing and I think this is indicative of the contempt in which they hold the fans and it’s sad to see.

It feels a bit like ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ in terms of their ownership (from Roland Duchatelet’s regime to Thomas Sandgaard’s) and clearly there is a breakdown in the relationship between the fanbase and the current owners following a pretty challenging time already.

They lost over £10m in 2021/22 (player sales reducing this by £3.3m) but in total the club’s losses now exceed over £48m – with £20m in loans and having since borrowed a further £6m from the owner.

You can’t do that on a regular basis and the club is a real cause for concern. 

Aki’s View (@chandel_aki): Another thing to note is Charlton do not own their stadium or training ground – leaving them at the mercy of the Duchatelet regime. 

While Sandgaard is in talks to sell the club to Marc Spiegel, balancing the books will remain the target and will likely be done through the sale of emerging Academy talent. 

Nevertheless, any owner coming in must expect to lose money if they want to build a club which competes for promotion.

To make matters worse, the money which Sandgaard has loaned the club is repayable at any time, meaning he could still have influence even after he sells. 

AFC Wimbledon

Kieran says: It will come as no surprise that they lost money – over £700k in 2022 despite having some big player sales.

Without those it would probably have been double that and it’s a tough task for a fan-owned club to deal with. 

They don’t have that one person who can effectively do a Roman Abramovich and just write out a cheque every week to cover the losses.

Conor’s View (@ConorJKeenan): Opened in 2020 at a cost of an estimated £33m, the new Plough Lane stadium will take years for the club to pay off so the losses come as no surprise. 

The club acquired a record transfer fee of just over £1m for Ayoub Assal in January, and the majority of that money has gone straight into paying for the stadium. 

As a result of their financial constraints, the Dons are heavily reliant on the loan system and fans should expect more of the same when the summer window opens. 

Leyton Orient

Kieran says: They are generating more money, partly due to the return from Covid but still lost £2.3m in 2022.

Again, I think it’s indicative of how we’ve become so immune to common business sense in football – I look at it and say, ‘Oh, they only lost 40 grand a week’ and then you go ‘Oh, that’s still 40 grand a week that somebody has had to find.’

Like a lot of clubs, they are very dependent on the owners digging them out and Nigel Travis has put in £12m to fund the losses.

That’s great until circumstances change, or you end up in the position that we saw at Derby County where the owner put in a huge amount of money, then walked away and left the club in administration.

Brendan’s View (@BrendanPitcher): Both Nigel Travis and Kent Teague have been very open about the fact that, while they’re happy to do so, they feel losing that amount of money a season is unsustainable. 

That’s why they’ve been at the forefront of backing schemes that aim to provide a better redistribution of wealth around the football pyramid – such as the Crouch Report.

Sutton United

Kieran says: They did ok but they still lost £270k – in what other line of business would you say losing £270k in a year is good? That’s the lunacy of football.

They were fortunate as they benefited from owners who put more money into the club in the form of shares and therefore allowed the club to invest a wee bit more and ultimately to survive on the back of that. 

However, they’ve committed to spending £600k on stadium improvements at the end of last season which does appear to show a strategy and a plan, and that’s got to be applauded, but that money still has to come from somewhere.

Will’s View (@LawlessW33): Gaining promotion to the Football League will trouble a club financially, no matter how prepared they might be and Sutton may have been slightly naïve in terms of handling costs, but the £600k spent on Gander Green Lane is the smartest and most crucial move the club can make

And thanks to strong community bonds, multiple shareholders and a dedicated chairman in Bruce Elliott – Sutton United are in safe hands. 

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