The Premier League continues to insulate itself against global economic woes by spending money at record-breaking levels.
English top-flight clubs splashed £815 million in the January transfer window alone – with deadline day on January 31 witnessing a mind-blowing £275 million spent. That’s nearly double the previous record of £150 million set in 2018.
And combine January spending with that of the summer and we find that Premier League clubs have splashed a scarcely-believable £2.8 billion new talent in the 2022/23 season. That’s literally double the previous highest of £1.4 billion in 2017.
Recession? What recession!?
To offer a flavour of how outlandish the Premier League spending is when compared to the rest of world football, EPL clubs accounted for some 79% of all transfer spending amongst Europe’s so-called ‘big five’ leagues, which also includes La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.
For even more context, Chelsea’s £288 million spend in January was higher than all of the clubs in Spain, Italy, Germany and France combined. They also broke the British transfer record with the £105 million purchase of World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez.
Only time will tell of what the ramifications of taking on so much debt will be, while UEFA have already updated their Financial Fair Play rules to stop clubs, notably Chelsea, from spreading the cost of new signings across long-term contracts in a bid to fudge their finances.
An Island of Dopes
With the Premier League’s monopolising of the best talent in stark contrast to the tightening of belts in other footballing countries, it’s unsurprising that talks of a European Super League have surfaced once more.
Remember, it was the about-turn of six English clubs that prevented the original ESL model going ahead in 2021, but if the other big five leagues feel they are unable to remain financially competitive, the reality of a European Super League beyond UEFA’s control – and without Premier League teams invited – seems highly plausible.
That would have a devastating knock-on effect to the Champions League, leaving British clubs ‘homeless’ on the continent if they were to remain on the outside looking in at a new European Super League to which they aren’t invited.
Andrea Agnelli, the former Juventus chairman, has urged European clubs to reconsider the Super League in response to the Premier League’s continued dominance.
Meanwhile, La Liga boss Javier Tebas has described English spending as ‘doped’, while questioning how financially sustainable the Premier League is.
“The British market is a doped market,” he said.
“You can see it clearly in this winter market, where Chelsea have made almost half of the signings in the Premier League.
“It is quite dangerous that the markets are doped, inflated, as has been happening in recent years in Europe, because that can jeopardise the sustainability of European football.
“I am happy because our clubs are economically sustainable, and that means that we have a future for many years to come.”
With private equity investors financing English clubs before leaving stage left a few years later, Tebas might just have a point….