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Money, Money, Money! (update 2.0)

Because isn't that what Christmas is all about? No? Okay, but the K League released their annual financial information about what the clubs (Classic and Challenge) are paying out to their players, so let's take a look. Note - This post will be updated several times over the next few days with more information and charts, check back often!



K League Classic

Table and data via K League

The above table looks at the K League Classic sides. It shows the team size, total paid (wages + bonuses), wages, wages for Korean players, wages for foreign players, and total bonuses. All amounts in the table are listed in thousands of Korean won.

Team-by-Team Breakdown

*All amounts are listed in full and in Korean won. The quick and dirty currency exchange calculation is to just drop the last three zeroes to get the US dollar amount. For example, Jeonbuk is paying 12,005,094,000 KRW, just scratch the last three zeroes 12,005,094,000 and you get the rough dollar amount - $12,005,094.*

Jeonbuk
Total players: 36
Korean players: 32
Foreign players: 4
Total paid: 12,005,094,000 KRW
Average paid: 334,475,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 9,171,914,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 6,603,414,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign):  2,568,500,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 2,833,180,000 KRW

Suwon
Total players: 34
Korean players: 31
Foreign players: 3
Total paid: 8,738,588,000 KRW
Average paid: 257,017,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 6,774,588,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 5,320,990,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 1,453,598,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid:1,964,000,000 KRW

Ulsan
Total players: 34
Korean players: 30
Foreign players: 4
Total paid: 8,603,772,000 KRW
Average paid: 253,052,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 6,927,622,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 5,059,033,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 1,868,589,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid:1,676,150,000 KRW

Seoul
Total players: 34
Korean players: 30
Foreign players: 4
Total paid: 7,538,295,000 KRW
Average paid: 221,715,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 6,059,095,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 3,937,059,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 2,122,026,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 1,479,200,000 KRW

Pohang
Total players: 33
Korean players: 31
Foreign players: 2
Total paid: 5,836,219,000 KRW
Average paid: 176,855,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 4,206,519,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 3,757,719,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 448,800,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 1,629,700,000 KRW 

Jeonnam
Total players: 30
Korean players: 27
Foreign players: 3
Total paid: 5,366,762,000 KRW
Average paid: 178,892,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 4,189,922,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 2,891,922,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 1,298,000,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 1,176,840,000 KRW

Jeju
Total players: 35
Korean players: 31
Foreign players: 4
Total paid: 5,078,248,000 KRW
Average paid: 145,093,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 4,193,268,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 3,115,268,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 1,078,000,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 884,980,000 KRW

Seongnam
Total players: 33
Korean players: 31
Foreign players: 2
Total paid: 4,726,740,000 KRW
Average paid: 143,235,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 3,803,900,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 3,513,500,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 290,400,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 922,840,000 KRW

Busan
Total players: 34
Korean players: 31
Foreign players: 3
Total paid: 3,131,958,000 KRW
Average paid: 92,116,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 2,718,638,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 2,236,838,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 481,800,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 413,320,000 KRW

Incheon
Total players: 32
Korean players: 29
Foreign players: 3
Total paid: 3,107,778,000 KRW
Average paid: 97,118,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 2,392,578,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 1,700,578,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 692,000,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid:715,200,000 KRW

Gwangju
Total players: 29
Korean players: 26
Foreign players: 3
Total paid: 2,361,300,000 KRW
Average paid: 81,424,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 1,948,200,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 1,539,000,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 136,400,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 413,100,000 KRW

Daejeon
Total players: 39
Korean players: 35
Foreign players: 4
Total paid: 1,941,835,000 KRW
Average paid: 49,791,000 KRW
Total salary paid: 1,788,635,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Korean): 1,531,052,000 KRW
Total salary paid (Foreign): 257,583,000 KRW
Total bonuses paid: 153,200,000 KRW


Mini-Analysis

Jeonbuk's financial strength coming through clearly with a payroll approximately 25% bigger than second-place Suwon, and several times bigger than relegated Daejeon's. Jeonbuk's four foreign players (Leonardo, Luiz Henrique, Urko Vera, and Alex Wilkinson) made more than the entire Daejeon team combined.


Seongnam's payroll is significant for a city-backed club, and is comparable to the smaller corporation backed teams. Indeed Seongnam's payroll is significantly larger than Busan, who was the smallest corporation backed team. Seongnam's payroll is also significantly larger than any of the other citizen clubs.

What to say about Busan? Easily the smallest corporate backed payroll, paying out 2 billion won less than Jeju. It will be seen in a bit, but newly founded Seoul E-Land FC down in the Challenge had a (marginally) larger payroll than Busan did.

The two POSCO clubs are also interesting. Pohang is clearly the "bigger" of the two clubs, yet their payrolls are similar. On average, Jeonnam actually paid more per player than Pohang did. The total payroll coming out in Pohang's favor as they had a larger playing staff.

Ulsan certainly would seem to be the biggest loser in 2015 given where they ended up (bottom half) and their sizable payroll (3rd overall).

Daejeon, Daejeon. 39 players on their payroll yet had the smallest budget of all. Possibly an indication of the odd player moves they made during the year.

Seoul was interesting to see how much more they pay the foreign players compared to the Korean players. Seoul paid out a little under 4 billion won to their 30 Korean players while paying about 2.1 billion won to their 4 foreign players. Foreign players at Seoul earned (on average) four times as much as their domestic counterparts.

The Money League


League Table (pre-split) Money League
Place Team Points Team Wages (approx. KRW in billions)
1 Jeonbuk 68 Jeonbuk 9.17 0
2 Suwon 60 Ulsan 6.93 -7
3 Pohang 56 Suwon 6.77 1
4 Seongnam 54 Seoul 6.06 -1
5 Seoul 54 Pohang 4.21 2
6 Jeju 46 Jeju 4.19 0
7 Incheon 45 Jeonnam 4.19 -1
8 Jeonnam 42 Seongnam 3.80 4
9 Ulsan 40 Busan 2.72 -2
10 Gwangju 35 Incheon 2.39 2
11 Busan 24 Gwangju 1.95 1
12 Daejeon 13 Daejeon 1.79 0

The above table seeks to show how teams did in reality compared to how much they spent on wages. I used the pre-split final table as it shows where teams stood when they played everyone else. I used just wages (no bonuses) as clubs may have set different goals and targets for players. The final column shows the difference between their 'Money League' place and their actual league spot.

Overperformers
Seongnam was the big overperformer during the pre-split season, placing four spots higher than their wage bill. They finished level on points with Seoul, who spent 2.26 billion won more on player salaries.

Pohang and Incheon also outperformed their money league spot, with both placing two spots higher in reality. Gwangju and Suwon both placed one spot higher in reality.

Underperformers
Ulsan was by far the biggest underperformer in the league. Their wage bill was second, only behind Jeonbuk, but at the end of the pre-split season they were down in 9th. Incheon, who had a third of Ulsan's budget, was higher than them.

Busan was the other notable underperformer. They ended up two spots below their money league spot, but that was crucial as they ended up in the relegation spots.

Most efficient spenders in 2015


Place Team Points Total wages Won per point
1 Gwangju 35 2.36 67,428,571
2 Incheon 40 3.11 69,111,111
3 Seongnam 54 4.73 87,592,593
4 Pohang 56 5.84 104,285,714
5 Jeju 46 5.08 110,434,783
6 Jeonnam 42 5.37 127,857,143
7 Busan 24 3.13 130,416,667
8 Seoul 54 7.54 139,629,630
9 Suwon 60 8.74 145,666,667
10 Daejeon 13 1.94 150,000,000
11 Jeonbuk 68 12.00 176,470,588
12 Ulsan 40 8.60 215,000,000

(apologies, I don't know why that color is showing up in the table)

This table seeks to show how efficiently money was spent on a per point basis. This is not a perfect calculation due to the split factor in the season. The points total is based on the pre-split points (after round 33) while the wage total is full season. In theory the wages would needed to be prorated to match the amount paid out up to round 33, but since bonuses are not explained and such, I opted not to do so. Nonetheless, you can still get a decent idea of 'how expensive' each point was, and it's also a different perspective on the above money table.

Jeonbuk spent the most, and would have been expected to top the table, but they certainly had to pay for it, with each point costing about 176 million won. Ulsan once again confirms their status as the league's underperformers with each point costing them a whopping 215 million won.

Changes in wages from 2013-2015

Jeonbuk
2013 - 8.13 billion KRW
2014 - 11.81 billion KRW (+3.68 billion, +45.26%)
2015 - 12.01 billion KRW (+0.20 billion, +1.69%)

Suwon
2013 - 9.07 billion KRW
2014 - 9.86 billion KRW (+0.79 billion, +8.71%)
2015 - 8.74 billion KRW (-1.12 billion, -11.36%)

Ulsan
2013 - 6.33 billion KRW
2014 - 8.62 billion KRW (+2.29 billion, +36.18%)
2015 - 8.60 billion KRW (-0.02 billion, -0.23%)

Seoul
2013 - 5.62 billion KRW
2014 - 8.79 billion KRW (+3.17 billion, +56.41%)
2015 - 7.54 billion KRW (-1.25 billion, -14.22%)

Pohang
2013 - 6.05 billion KRW
2014 - 6.93 billion KRW (+0.88 billion, +14.55%)
2015 - 5.84 billion KRW (-1.09 billion, -15.73%)

Jeonnam
2013 - 3.75 billion KRW
2014 - 4.91 billion KRW (+1.16 billion, +30.93)
2015 - 5.37 billion KRW (+0.46 billion, +9.47%)

Jeju
2013 - 4.46 billion KRW
2014 - 4.89 billion KRW (+0.43 billion, +9.64%)
2015 - 5.08 billion KRW (+0.19 billion, +3.89%)

Seongnam
2013 - 5.27 billion KRW
2014 - 6.12 billion KRW (+0.85 billion, +16.13%)
2015 - 4.73 billion KRW (-1.39 billion, -22.71%)

Busan
2013 - 3.32 billion KRW
2014 - 4.47 billion KRW (+1.15 billion, +34.64%)
2015 - 3.13 billion KRW (-1.34 billion, -29.98%)

Incheon
2013 - 4.25 billion KRW
2014 - 4.90 billion KRW (+0.65 billion, +15.29%)
2015 - 3.11 billion KRW (-1.79 billion, -36.53%)

Gwangju
2013 - 2.15 billion KRW
2014 - 2.23 billion KRW (+0.08 billion, +3.72%)
2015 - 2.36 billion KRW (+0.13 billion, +5.83%)

Daejeon
2013 - 2.83 billion KRW
2014 - 2.10 billion KRW (-0.73 billion, -25.80%)
2015 - 1.94 billion KRW (-0.16 billion, -7.62%)

League
2013 - 61.23 billion KRW
2014 - 75.63 billion KRW (+14.4 billion, 23.52%)
2015 - 68.45 billion KRW (-7.18 billion, -9.49%)


It was interesting to see that from 2013 - 2014 the league as a whole made a significant investment in player wages, jumping from 61.23 billion won up to 75.63 billion. However, from 2014 - 2015 that investment was sharply scaled back, dropping down to 68.45 billion. Only four of the twelve Classic teams increased their payrolls (Jeonbuk, Jeonnam, Jeju and Gwangju) for a combined amount of approximately 980 million won. The teams that were expected to challenge Jeonbuk for the title (Seoul, Suwon, Pohang) all cut their wage bill this season.

Graphic courtesy of Footballist

Highest Paid K League Classic Players

The league does not disclose individual salaries, but they do release the top five domestic and foreign salaries. A bit odd, but that's how it is.

Top 5 Domestic Player Salaries
1. Lee Dong-gook (Jeonbuk, FW) - 1,112,560,000 KRW
2. Kim Shin-wook (Ulsan, FW) - 1,053,700,000 KRW
3. Jung Sung-ryong (Suwon, GK) - 758,000,000 KRW
4. Shin Hwa-yong (Pohang, GK) - 658,000,000 KRW
5. Choi Chul-soon (Jeonbuk, DF) - 637,100,000 KRW

Top 5 Foreign Player Salaries
1. Leonardo (Jeonbuk, MF) - 1,296,340,000 KRW
2. Mauricio Molina (Seoul, MF) - 1,257,500,000 KRW
3. Server Djeparov (Ulsan, MF) - 1,049,285,000 KRW
4. Stevica Ristic (Jeonnam, FW) - 748,500,000 KRW
5. Santos Junior (Suwon, FW) - 733,000,000 KRW

THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, PLEASE CHECK BACK OFTEN FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CLASSIC AND CHALLENGE SALARIES AND TABLES/GRAPHICS.

Surprised by any of the wages? Where does your team stand? Leave a comment below.

Get the latest news and information by following Jaehyeok Lee on Twitter - @armchairregista

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