Premier League Clubs Predicted to Spend £698m By the End of the Transfer Window Despite COVID-19 Impact

Premier League Football and Coronavirus Protective Mask
Premier League accounts for 99% of Europe’s transfer deficit | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Premier League clubs are on course for a predicted 2020/21 transfer deficit of £698m by the end of the summer transfer window, which could account for as much as 99% of the overall transfer deficit across all of Europe’s top five leagues.

While clubs in La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 have sought to balance the books this summer amid the enormous financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely limited incomes all over the continent, Premier League spending remains aggressive.

Elsewhere across Europe, business has been largely restricted to 'sell to buy'
Elsewhere across Europe, business has been largely restricted to ‘sell to buy’ | Visionhaus/Getty Images

A report commissioned by Football Index and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) predicts that, collectively, Europe’s top five leagues will finish the summer with a transfer deficit – which is their transfer outlay minus any transfer fees received – of £701m.

But an astonishing £698m of this will be from the Premier League alone.

It is expected that the overall spend in Europe for this summer’s window will be 46% lower than last year – £2.7bn compared to £4.97bn. The predicted transfer deficit of £701m will be far lower than the £1.2bn transfer deficit of 12 months ago, but because of more cautious business in Spain, Italy, Germany and France, rather than curtailed Premier League spending.

But the Premier League’s predicted £698m transfer deficit this year is actually expected to go up, from £627m last summer. In stark contrasts, La Liga’s transfer deficit for this window is predicted to be £60m, while it will be £26m in the Bundesliga. Serie A and Ligue are on course to bring in more money than they have spent this summer, with surpluses of £23m and £65m respectively.

Premier League spending on transfers has been the highest in Europe for 17 consecutive years since 2003. England’s top flight is the largest source of income to the other four leagues and specifically for Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, it is a greater source of income than the others combined.

The explosion in transfer fees has come largely since 2011 when Premier League began to see substantial increases in broadcasting revenue. Prior to that era of greater television income, the transfer deficit across all of Europe’s top five leagues between 2000 and 2010 averaged £455m.

It is also apparent that Premier League clubs typically sell players much cheaper than they buy them, compared to the other four leagues, with teams in Ligue 1 actually making a significant collective transfer profit for the 2019/20 season.

Last season in Ligue 1, the value of players sold compared to the value of players bought was a profitable 110%, compared to 78% in La Liga, 73% in Serie A, 71% in the Bundesliga and just 52% in the Premier League.

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