Premier League clubs spend £485m

Premier League action as between Manchester United and ArsenalThe 33% rise in transfer spending by English football clubs during the transfer window, which closed last night, may suggest the game is unaffected by tighter financial times. But a closer look at the figures reveals that even those clubs with mega-rich backers are budgeting.
More English club money is being spent on English players, but it's Arab money which is dwarfing the rest. English clubs spent £485m on transfer deals in the window which closed last night, with five clubs responsible for two-thirds of the spending. Yesterday, £100m changed hands.

The total spending by English clubs during the whole of the transfer window was up £120m, that's 33%, on last summer. But that spending was quite not the sort of splurge for instant success we've seen in the past, for instance in 2008 when £544m was spent.

Manchester City

There's evidence that UEFA's new Financial Fair Play rules are having some effect, with even big spenders such as Manchester City cutting their wage bill. There were some notable loan deals, and £128m of the money (34%) was spent on English and Welsh players, more than double last year's total.

Manchester City, owned by the extravagantly rich Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family, perhaps unsurprisingly were the biggest spenders, laying out a total of £76m, a figure which included this window's record deal of £38m for striker Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid.

But while the City owners' pounds can certainly take care of themselves, the club was also watching the pennies, offloading high wage earners such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy and signing injury-plagued Owen Hargreaves on a pay-as-you play free transfer.

Manchester United

Along with City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all spent more than £50m. Tottenham Hotspur, despite being involved in a large number of final day deals, only spent £5m although the club has taken on a significant proportion of Adebayor's £170,000 a week wages. The club also shifted an number of well-paid fringe players off its books.

Those six clubs are likely to be the ones in contention for the top six places in the division, further proof of the correlation between spending and success that football consultant Alex Fynn drew attention to in the interview linked below. Now it's down to the skill of the managers – and getting the breaks.

Other clubs spending significant amounts included Sunderland, Stoke City, Wolves and newly-promoted QPR – a club whose backers are not short of a few bob themselves. Each will now be looking for a significant improvement in status and this year's league could be the toughest yet.

Football League

Premier League rules stipulating that all clubs must have at least eight 'home-grown' players in a 25-man squad explain why more money is staying in the domestic game, although most of that money has remained within the Premier League, rather than trickling down to the Football League divisions.

With £130m spent on players under 21, there's also evidence that clubs are looking to invest in development, rather than simply rely on buying success. The figure is more than double what it was last year and nearly six times what it was two years ago.

So UEFA's new financial rules are having some effect, but perhaps not in the way UEFA envisaged. It's also worth noting at this point that the pace of spending on the Continent has increased faster than it has in England – and there's Arab money money again at the heart of it.

Paris St Germain

The next biggest spenders in Europe behind Abu-Dhabi-owned Manchester City were Paris St Germain, owned by wealthy Qataris. The club spent £75m as its owners sought to propel into Europe's elite. Italian giant Juventus were next, spending £67m.

Proof perhaps that when you get to the top you need to spend to stay there is provided by Barcelona, for many already the finest footballing force to take the field in many years. The Spanish club laid out £56m – a figure which included the £35m paid to Arsenal for Cesc Fabregas.

The big spending in Italy (£400m) and Spain (£300m) may raise an eyebrow in view of the player wage disputes in both countries, and in Spain questions are being asked about some of the deals and the lack of clarity about who owns certain players who have been traded. Transparency, it seems, is still some way off.

Luka Modric

But for all the spending, it was a deal that didn't happen that could perhaps be the most significant. Tottenham's Luka Modric is still at the club, despite very publically pushing for a move and, apparently, despite a deadline day bid of £40m from Roman Abramovitch's Chelsea.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said unequivocally the player would not be sold, and he has stuck to his word. That's certainly changed the modern perception of Spurs as a selling club, and it may represent some redress in the balance of power between players and clubs. Modric will now have to knuckle down and honour the six-year contract he signed, for a hefty bonus, last year.

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