By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, UK
As the winter ‘transfer window’ closed in Europe, English Premier League clubs spent heavily during the one month window to strengthen their squads. In total, £215 million was spent by the twenty Premier League clubs. This was a six-year high since the £223 million they spent during January 2011.
However, the key difference this time was that the clubs received more than they paid out. No doubt, the huge sums of money spent by Chinese clubs on English Premier League players contributed to this net gain.
Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Oscar, moved to Shanghai SIPG for a sum in the region of £60 million; and Odion Ighalo moved from Watford to Changhun Yatai for a reported £20 million. The combined total of both those transfers was more than a third of the total spent by all the English Premier League clubs.
With the Chinese Super League ‘transfer window’ still open until 28 February, it could be possible that more English Premier League players leave for Asia, thus, increasing the net gain in transfer fees.
However, with the Chinese Super League bringing in restrictions on the number of foreign players in each starting eleven, it is likely that the Premier League clubs’ transfer spending in the future will be more than they receive.
Interestingly, the established top six clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool) spent only £40,000 between them.
There could be a number of reasons for this, including the fact that the top six clubs generally have more strength in depth than the other clubs and also have more financial power, so that they can complete all their business during the summer ‘transfer window’.
‘It is also notoriously difficult for the top six clubs to improve their squads in the winter ‘transfer window’, because rivals want to keep hold of their best players. The top players are usually cup-tied domestically and internationally.
Dan Jones, a partner in the sport business group of Deloitte’s commented:
“Expenditure in January 2017 took the Premier League’s total transfer expenditure for the 2016-17 season to almost £1.4bn – an increase of 32% on 2015-16 and far in excess of any other league in world football.”