Global football transfer fees hit record levels

Emma Woollacott
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Southampton - Old Trafford
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Southampton - Old Trafford

Worldwide football transfer fees hit a record £2.6 billion last year, says FIFA, with England the biggest spender.

English clubs handed over £770 million in transfer deals last year - more than a quarter of the total spending worldwide. Overall, spending was up by 2.1%, and the number of transfers rose by 2.9% to 13,090.

Big name players signed up during the year to the Premier League include Angel di Maria, whose move from Real Madrid to Manchester United cost the club £59.7 million - a record transfer fee for an English team.

Spain was the second-biggest spender, FIFA's Global Transfer Market 2015 shows, forking out £460 million in 2014. And Spain also had the most coming in from transfer fees, netting £438 million during the year. A fair chunk of this came from England, with English clubs paying out £297 million for 62 Spanish players.

In France, spending fell from $421m to $221m as clubs reined in their spending in light of Uefa's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

Brazil was the busiest country in the market, with 646 incoming transfers and 689 outgoing transfers. And the report notes a 'World Cup effect', with transfers involving Costa Rica players, for example, reaching £6.5 million in 2014 - ten times as much as in the year before.

Some of the biggest winners revealed by the report are the players' agents, who made £155 million between them - an average yearly increase of an astonishing 27% since 2011.

The average age of players transferred during the year was 25 years and 6 months. And, for the first time, the report include a breakdown of transfers of minors. Spain heads the league here, with 400 applications to sign players under the age of 18 from abroad. Of these, 352 were accepted by FIFA.

The statistics come as Barcelona is banned from any signings this year, after breaching the rules on signing minors. And now Real Madrid, too, is being investigated, with 51 transfers of minors under the spotlight.

Under-age players are only allowed to move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the EU or European Economic Area and aged over 16, or if they live within 100km of the club. Real says it can satisfy the investigators.

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