Transfer spending by numbers. How football has become more than a game


By Paul Nicholson

September 1 – The just closed record transfer window means that gross spending by Premier League clubs has surpassed £10 billion since the first transfer window in January 2003. And according to industry analysts, clubs are not spending above their means – ridiculous as some of the amounts paid appear.

The Sport Business Group at Deloittes has analysed the big picture of the spend across the Premier League, while Thomson Reuters shows that spending on player transfers in the ‘big five’ leagues in Europe would be up there with the biggest industries in their respective countries.

Their key findings are below:

  • Premier League clubs set new record for expenditure in a summer window of £1.4 billion
  • Summer window sees gross transfer spending up 23% on previous record
  • The average Premier League club spent £71m on player transfers (2016: c.£58 million)
  • Premier League clubs’ summer spending as a proportion of estimated 2017/18 revenue was 31%
  • Over the thirty transfer windows since 2003, the average spending-revenue ratio has been 22% in the summer window, 5% in the January window and hence an average 27% for a season overall
  • More than £210 million spent by Premier League clubs on transfer deadline day, a new record beating the previous £155 million last summer
  • Net expenditure was £665 million, £20 million less than last summer’s record of £685 million;
  • Championship clubs spend £195 million on transfers, 9% less than 2016’s record
  • Premier League clubs’ have broken the record for spending in a single season (£1,430 million) and calendar year (£1,645 million).
  • “For the last 15 years, annual transfer spending has remained within the range of between a fifth and a third, and averaged at around a quarter, of total revenues. With Premier League clubs’ revenue showing no sign of decreasing in the foreseeable future, we would expect to see spending continue to rise,” said Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
  • After a January 2017 transfer window in which Premier League clubs were net exporters of playing talent (in terms of transfer fees), net expenditure on players from overseas in the summer 2017 transfer window was £585m – a decrease of £45m (7%) from the summer 2016 window.
  • The Premier League’s highest-spending clubs were Manchester City (£215m), Chelsea (£180m), Manchester United (£145m) and Everton (£145m). Only four clubs recorded net transfer receipts (Swansea City, Arsenal, Burnley and Stoke City).
  • Premier League clubs spent £770m to acquire players from overseas clubs (2016: £720m), representing 54% of total gross transfer expenditure. £185m flowed in the opposite direction (2016: £90m).

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Source: The Sport Business Group, Deloittes

A Big Business getting Bigger

Thomson Reuters have matched spending on player transfers in the ‘big five’ leagues in Europe against the biggest industries when compared to traditional acquisitions during the transfer window period.

  • At £1.43bnEnglish Premier League transfer spending would sit as the second highest spending industry in the UK since the summer transfer window of 2017 opened
  • At £735mSerie A transfer spending would sit as the 3rd highest spending industry in Italy since the summer transfer window of 2017 opened
  • At £590mLigue 1 transfer spending would sit as the 8th highest spending industry in France since the summer transfer window of 2017 opened
  • At £510mBundesliga transfer spending would sit as the 4th highest spending industry in Germany since the summer transfer window of 2017 opened
  • At £500mLa Liga transfer spending would sit as the number 1 highest spending industry in Spain since the summer transfer window of 2017 opened.

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