Why Premier League’s £295m January transfer window is a problem for the rest of Europe and EFL

Why Premier League’s £295m January transfer window is a problem for the rest of Europe and EFL

So it ends with a flurry of sorts and, above all, a return to normality. On a deadline day that became more about departures than arrivals for London’s clubs, spiced up by Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s premature arrival in Barcelona, the estimated £295million in spending brought top-flight clubs back to the expected level.


Should that put an end to talk of Covid-19 threatening to burst the bubble? For the Premier League, yes. For the rest of the game, clearly not and the squeeze has remained evident around Europe, with a majority of the continent’s big clubs cutting cloth without such broadcasting riches to prop them up.


According to the BBC, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined spent £317million. The contrast with the EFL is stark, too, with about £20million paid in fees across the 72 clubs.



Helped substantially by Newcastle’s arrival as a financial player, spending had surpassed last year’s by the midpoint of the month and, as remarked by Deloitte, with a week remaining the gross outlay of £105million was not only £80million higher than the amount committed at the same point last year but £35million more than that window’s total spend.


More than £90million of the £295million came from Tyneside, although the domino effect was limited aside from Burnley bringing in Wout Weghout to replace Chris Wood.


“This transfer window indicates that the financial pressures of Covid on Premier League clubs are easing, with spending firmly back to pre-pandemic levels and remarkably among the highest we’ve ever seen in January,” Dan Jones, head of Deloitte’s sports business group, said.


“The Premier League continues to lead the way globally, retaining its status as the world’s biggest domestic football league in financial terms, once again supported by full stadia and securing strong overseas broadcast deals.


“Other large European leagues are also edging back to higher spending, but it is Premier League clubs that have notched up the largest total spend in this transfer window, spending almost £150million more than Serie A clubs, the closest competitor.”


New long-term and unprecedented broadcast agreements in the United States and Asia have been agreed in recent months, providing clubs with several billion in guaranteed future income.


And yet the narrative around London’s clubs is that of inactivity and missed opportunities.


Chelsea were always going to have a quiet month, with their interest in strengthening at full back diminished by Reece James’ progress in his return from injury. West Ham made a number of late bids that straddled the line between unrealistic and hilarious.


Brentford enjoyed some of yesterday’s limelight by confirming Christian Eriksen’s short-term deal and Crystal Palace’s activity extended to making the loan deal of Jean-Philippe Mateta permanent in addition to signing teenager Luke Plange from Derby, who will stay at the Championship club on loan.


The real interest came in North London. Accounting for young players going on loan, Arsenal trimmed their playing pool by 13 and failed to bring in a new striker. It had been billed as a window where the club could bolster Mikel Arteta’s options in pursuit of a Champions League return. Now they look light at the centre of attack, even if Aubameyang had found himself out of the head coach’s plans.


Tottenham, meanwhile, both struggled to add and unload until yesterday afternoon, when a late flurry saw Dele Alli, Giovanni Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele rehomed and the Juventus pair of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur arrive.


Is that enough to satisfy Antonio Conte? Considering the mood music several weeks ago, unlikely, even if the clear out is a clear positive.


Questions can justifiably be asked around why it took so long to find homes for players Conte declared were not part of his plans weeks earlier, thereby perhaps altering their approach when it came to signings. Then again the number of missed targets in the final days of the window should ensure blushed faces for a while yet.


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Overall the expenditure comes in at the second-highest ever but it is consistent with recent years if we are to disregard the outliers of last year and 2018, when three huge deals involving Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City made up for 44% of the £430million spend, and factor in the market’s high rate of inflation.


The pandemic may not be over but with full stadiums, clubs rolling in new TV money that will stretch into the middle of the decade and an ever yawning gap compared to the other top leagues, any whispers of the Premier League’s financial peak passing now appears laughable.


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