Euro 2020 Special

The January Transfer Window: The Premier League Shows Its Dominance

With a few exceptions, the January transfer window will close next Tuesday. Clubs will have until then to buy and sell, or loan players, and then they will have to make do with the squads that they have until the end of the season.

However, what has become abundantly clear is the spending power of the Premier League compared to other leagues in Europe. English clubs have spent significantly more than those from other leagues, and that pattern is set to continue until the window closes.


The transfer window

The transfer window refers to the period during which clubs can buy and sell players. There are two during the year, with the most significant one being the period between the end of June and the start of September when the majority of clubs do most of their business.

The January window, though, is important for teams looking to supplement squads ahead of the second half of the season, either to mount a push for the title or European places, or as they look to stave off the threat of relegation.

This year, that window closes on January 31st, with the cut-off time for deals to be completed varying from country to country.


The Premier League dominates

So far, Premier League clubs have spent in excess of £400 million. The next nearest league in terms of total spending is the Bundesliga with just £42 million.

So far, the Serie A in Italy, once regarded as the most successful domestic league in the world, has spent a combined total of less than £9 million. And clubs in France and Spain have also kept their hands in their pockets as well.

Whilst clubs across Europe are still recovering from the effect of the COVID-19  pandemic on their finances and balance sheets, Premier League clubs have recovered faster than their continental compatriots.

The principal reason for this is television rights. The Premier League is the most watched league in the world by some distance. And unusually for sports, they are able to sell their overseas rights for far more than those for the domestic markets.

They also have a more equitable share of those rights than other leagues where two or three clubs get the lion’s share of the revenue.

That means even the bottom placed club in the Premier League is guaranteed more income than title challengers in other equivalents.


The Rich List

That was demonstrated recently when Deloitte published their annual list of the richest clubs in the world by revenue. 11 out of the top 20 clubs came from the Premier League and 16 out of the top 30, the first time that the majority of the list has come from one league.

And in a footnote, the authors of the report predicted that all 20 Premier League clubs will soon find themselves included.


Chelsea are the big spenders

One club so far have stood out for their spending in this January window, and that is Chelsea, who have spent close to £180 million buying Ukrainian winger Mykhailo Mudryk, Benoît Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, and Noni Madueke, while taking Joāo Felix on loan from Atlético Madrid.

Nor have they necessarily finished yet, with indications that they are still looking to bringing in one or two more before the window closes.

There have been questions raised as to how Chelsea have been able to do this and still stay within the limits of Financial Fair Play (FFP), which is intended to tie how much clubs spend to the amount they generate in revenue.

However, the West London club have exploited a loophole in the current regulations enabling them to amortise the cost of the players they have bought in over a number of years by awarding them lengthy contracts.

Mudryk, for example, has been given an eight-and-a-half-year contract at Stamford Bridge, the longest in Premier League history. That means that, in the books of the club, he is costing them around £10 million a year, although the eventual price tag for him could be as much as £89 million.

UEFA have now taken action to close this loophole and the maximum amortisation period will be limited to five years in future. However, the new rules will not come into force until the summer, giving them time to repeat the trick several times over before then.




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