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January transfer spending slumps as pandemic hits football finances

Written by on 02/02/2021

Premier League clubs spent just £70m in the January transfer window, the lowest level since 2012, as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on their finances, new figures from Deloitte show.

The sum compares to £230m splashed out a year ago – with the end of the Brexit transition period also cited as a factor.

Just 24 transfers were completed by England’s top-flight clubs, compared with an average of 46 across the last three seasons, according to the report.

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Inside a socially distanced football match

Other major European leagues were similarly subdued, with spending across the German, Spanish, French and Italian top-flights down from €660m to €195m.

Recent analysis by Deloitte suggested the world’s top 20 revenue generating clubs would miss out on more than €2bn in revenue over the course of this season and last as a result of the pandemic.

It has meant matches largely being played behind closed doors or with severely reduced spectator numbers.

That lost revenue could “act as the catalyst in creating a shift in how clubs approach the transfer market over the next few seasons”, the report said.

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Still, the Premier League’s net spending of £950m (players bought minus players sold) for the 2020/21 season set a new record.

Deloitte said the January fall in spending came “as clubs exercised caution amid the highly uncertain environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

West Ham United's Said Benrahma during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Tuesday January 26, 2021.
Image: West Ham’s permanent signing of Said Benrahma was one of the bigger deals of the window

It was also the first window since the introduction of a post-Brexit points-based system for English clubs to sign foreign players.

Three quarters of the spending was accounted for by just three transfers: Said Benrahma completing a permanent move to West Ham, Amad Diallo to Manchester United and Morgan Sanson to Aston Villa.

Dan Jones, partner at the Deloitte’s sports business group, said: “Premier League clubs were understandably cautious in the January transfer window given the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite this, Premier League clubs’ very busy summer window, at a time when the rest of European football was more restrained, saw total net expenditure for the 2020/21 season reach a new record level of £950m.

“It remains to be seen if the relatively low activity in January will continue throughout 2021.

“We certainly do not expect to see another new record this summer.”

 Sky News

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