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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Premier League clubs to top NFL TV earnings by 2017 - UEFA report

The Premier League is set to overtake the NFL as the highest-earning sporting league in the world in terms of media income by 2017, according to UEFA.

UEFA's club licensing benchmarking report for 2014 says that European club football finances are "significantly healthier" in 2014 as opposed to 2011, and that European club football revenues equal 80 percent of the four major U.S. Sports combined -- NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

The Premier League signed a new £5.136 billion ($7.8bn) British TV rights deal in February this year for the upcoming 2016-19 seasons, and UEFA reports that a "conservative increase" in international rights later this year could see English clubs surpass the media rights figures of NFL franchises in 2017.

The report reads: "European clubs balance sheets are significantly healthier in 2014 than when the break-even requirements started in 2011, Club net equity, which represents the clubs' assets less all debts and liabilities, has increased by 50 percent from €3.3bn to €4.9bn.

"The massive additional 70 percent uplift in domestic live rights recently announced for Premier League clubs combined with UEFA club competition increases will take annual Premier League club media rights to at least €151m before any increase in international rights, which are due to be negotiated later in 2015.

"A conservative 30 percent increase in these international rights would mean total media rights per club would reach €165m, allowing the Premier league club average to surpass the average media rights of NFL franchises.

"With TV rights across the five largest European league increasing by an average of 25 percent each cycle, it is possible that the average TV rights of clubs from the other larger European leagues could approach the level of NBL and MLB franchises by the time their next national media deals start."

The Premier League's collective annual TV income of €1.92bn is over double that of Europe's next best league, with Italy's Serie A hitting €888m.

The number of European clubs with an income of over €100m per year also grew from 24 in 2009 to 45 at the end of 2014.

While Manchester United are the only Premier League side in the top five -- second to Real Madrid, but ahead of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Paris Saint-German -- 12 of the 30 richest European clubs by income are from England.

Premier League clubs generate €195.3m in revenues on average (€3.9bn aggregate), compared to San Marino, where the 15 clubs generate an average €0.1m (aggregate €1.8m).

Clubs in the Premier League also make more from ticket sales per year than any other European league, with average takings of €34.3m (aggregate €685m) compared to the next-best Bundesliga with €26.3 (€474m).

Travelling Bayern fans led a protest at Arsenal's Champions League ticket prices on Tuesday.

Bayern fans protested at ticket prices for the opening five minutes of Tuesday's Champions League match against Arsenal in North London.

Banners in the away section declaring "£64 a ticket but without fans football is not worth a penny" were applauded by home supporters when the Bayern fans eventually took their seats for the 2-0 defeat.

Premier League clubs also have six of the 13 top-paying teams in Europe -- Real Madrid lead the findings, with Man United (second), Manchester City (fourth), Chelsea (sixth), Arsenal (eighth), Liverpool (10th) and Tottenham (13th).

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