Premier League clubs spend £1.41 billion in the summer transfer window, narrowly missing out on all-time record
8 August 2019
- Premier League clubs spent £1.41 billion in the 2019 summer transfer window, falling narrowly short of the record set in summer 2017 (£1.43 billion);
- This summer’s player transfer expenditure represents the second-highest spend since the introduction of the transfer window system in 2003;
- Deadline day sees £170m spent by Premier League clubs, £40m less than the record of £210m in summer 2017;
- 11 Premier League clubs broke their individual player transfer records in this summer’s transfer window;
- Premier League clubs’ summer player transfer expenditure as a proportion of the clubs’ estimated 2019/20 revenue was 27% (summer 2018: 24%);
- La Liga clubs have already spent in excess of £1 billion for the first time, setting a new record and more than doubling their expenditure from just two years ago;
- Championship clubs spent £160m on player transfers-in during the summer 2019 transfer window, an increase from the £155m spent in summer 2018.
The 2019 summer transfer window saw Premier League clubs spending £1.41 billion, according to analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. This represents the second-highest total spend since the introduction of the transfer window system in 2003, falling just short of the record of £1.43 billion set in the summer of 2017. It is the fourth consecutive summer transfer window that Premier League clubs’ spending has been in excess of £1 billion.
The ambitions of clubs at all levels across the Premier League has driven spending in this year’s summer transfer window.
Following successful Premier League and UEFA Champions League campaigns, spending from last season’s top four has been driven by Manchester City (£150m) and Tottenham (£105m). Liverpool and Chelsea have been less active, with the former satisfied with the squad that were Champions of Europe and runners-up in the Premier League and the latter subject to a transfer ban.
Targeting a return to the top four and the UEFA Champions League, Manchester United have spent a world record fee on a defender (Harry Maguire, £80m), whilst Arsenal have broken their player transfer record (Nicolas Pepe, £72m). Everton, West Ham United, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have each spent in excess of £80m as they attempt to challenge the established ‘big six’.
Following promotion, Aston Villa have invested around £125m as they look to ensure their survival in the Premier League.
Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “Premier League clubs’ transfer spend continues to be driven by the desire for success on the pitch, ranging from competing at the top of the Premier League and qualification for the UEFA Champions League to simply survival in the top division. This summer has seen over half of the Premier League clubs break their individual player transfer records in pursuit of these objectives.”
Premier League clubs’ net player transfer expenditure (player purchases less player sales) to 8 August was £625m, with only three clubs in a net receipts position. This is the lowest net spend in a summer transfer window since 2015.
Jones continued: “With this level of net spend, combined with a more modest increase in Premier League broadcast rights values for the coming season than we have seen previously, we would expect wages to increase at a greater rate than revenue, returning to a wages to revenue ratio of over 60%. However, this does not signal major financial concerns as Premier League clubs collectively generated pre-tax profits of £426m in 2017/18, whilst net spend as a proportion of revenue of 12% is at its lowest since 2012.”
Spanish spending spree
Another notable emerging theme from this year’s summer transfer window has been the increased spending of La Liga clubs (currently totalling £1.1 billion), initially outpacing the Premier League and passing the £1 billion mark for the first time, setting a new league record.
Tim Bridge, director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, added: “With over three weeks to go before the Spanish window closes, La Liga clubs’ current spend has more than doubled from its total just two years ago, mainly driven by the relative financial security provided by a new cycle of broadcast rights contracts commencing this season (2019/20). This has provided additional funds for investment in the transfer market as they start to see the benefits from the switch to a collective rights model in 2015/16.
“Nonetheless, two-thirds of this spend to date has been from just three clubs: Atlético de Madrid, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.”
Whilst Premier League (and Championship) clubs are unable to make any further player acquisitions, they will be able to continue to sell players to clubs in other leagues, with most transfer windows remaining open until Monday 2 September.
Key findings from the analysis by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group include:
- Premier League clubs have committed to around £1.41 billion in respect of player transfer fees in the summer 2019 transfer window, an increase on the gross spend in 2018 (£1.24 billion) and the second highest since the transfer window system was introduced in 2003.
- The average gross player transfer expenditure for a Premier League club in the 2019 summer window was c.£71m (2018: c.£61m);
- Premier League clubs concluded player transfers-in totalling £170m on transfer deadline day. The record set in the summer of 2017 was £210m;
- The Premier League’s highest-spending clubs were Arsenal (£155m), Manchester City (£150m), Manchester United (£145m), Aston Villa (£125m) and Everton (£110m), representing 49% of the aggregate gross player transfer expenditure by Premier League clubs. Spending from these clubs reflects their respective ambitions on the pitch.
- Only three clubs recorded net player transfer receipts (Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Liverpool) as at 8 August.
- 11 Premier League clubs broke their individual player transfer records this summer. In addition, Manchester United’s signing of Harry Maguire for £80m set a new world record fee for a defender eclipsing the previous record of £75m for Virgil Van Dijk set in January 2018.
- Across the other ‘big five’ top divisions of Europe, La Liga is the next highest spending league, with a reported gross spend of around £1.1 billion, followed by Serie A (c.£935m), the Bundesliga (c.£605m) and Ligue 1 (c.£375m), all of which are expected to increase by the time their respective transfer windows close at the beginning of September*. Spending across the ‘big five’ European leagues already exceeds £4 billion.
- La Liga clubs’ summer transfer spend is a new record exceeding £1 billion for the first time. Atlético de Madrid, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have contributed two thirds of the overall spend to date, including the high-profile signings of João Félix (Benfica to Atlético de Madrid - £113m), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid to FC Barcelona - £107m) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid - £89m).
- Elsewhere, the transfer market continues to be a key part of the business model for a football club, particularly for those outside of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues. After Ajax’s successful Champions League campaign in the 2018/19 season, they have generated player receipts in excess of £165m in the 2019 summer transfer window to date, including the sale of hot prospects Frenkie De Jong (£68m to FC Barcelona) and Matthijs de Ligt (£77m to Juventus). Benfica have also notably recorded player receipts of £170m largely as a result of the sale of João Félix to Atlético de Madrid (£113m) and Raul Jiminez to Wolves (£30m).
- Championship clubs spent £160m on player transfers-in during the summer 2019 transfer window, an increase from the £155m spent in summer 2018;
- Since the introduction of the player transfer window system in January 2003, aggregate gross player transfer spending has exceeded £13 billion (£13.5 billion), with around 83% of this being spent in summer transfer windows.
Note to Editors
* The Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A transfer windows close on 2 September
Basis of preparation
The information on player transfers is based on publicly available information in respect of player registration acquisitions by clubs, including from club websites, www.bbc.co.uk and www.premierleague.com, and further analysis carried out by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. The information is based on reported transfers as at 17:00 on 8 August 2019. Further commentary about the transfer market is included in the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance. The figures contained in this release will not necessarily be the same as the cost of acquiring players’ registrations as recognised in the financial statements of each club. Under accounting requirements, the cost of acquiring a player’s registration includes the transfer fee payable (including any probable contingent amounts), plus other direct costs such as transfer fee levy and fees to agents. The exchange rate at 8 August 2019 has been used to convert figures between euros and pounds sterling (£1 = €1.08).
About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
Over the last 25 years Deloitte has developed a unique focus on the business of sport. Our specialist Sports Business Group offers a multi-disciplined expert service with dedicated people and skills capable of adding significant value to the business of sport. Whether it is benchmarking or strategic business reviews, operational turnarounds, revenue enhancement strategies or stadium/venue development plans, business planning, market and demand analysis, acquisitions, due diligence, expert witness, audits or tax planning; we have worked with more clubs, leagues, governing bodies, stadia developers, event organisers, commercial partners, financiers and investors than any other adviser.
Deloitte has conducted analysis of player transfer expenditure for every transfer window since 2003.
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