By Tony Attwood
Below is a table that shows the league position of clubs as per Sunday morning, against the net profit or loss in transfer fees over the summer. The last column shows the net expenditure (a minus figure) or net profit (+) on the summer’s sales.
What it shows is that spending lots of money doesn’t actually generate results straight away. The figures for net profit and loss are taken from Talk Sport’s web site – hardly the most reliable place in terms of transfer predictions, but by and large not bad when it comes to figures.
The table suggests that the issue of the money spent – the fixation of most journalists and bloggers throughout most the year – isn’t a central decider in terms of where you might be in the league.
In fact if what was spent in one transfer window really affected clubs greatly, then the figure in the first and last column would be the same.
But of course they are not.
(By the way if the figures don’t fit neatly onto your screen, press Ctrl and the minus (-) button at the same time – that usually fixes it).
|4||West Ham United||9||5||1||3||17||12||16||-£24.4m||6|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||9||2||4||3||12||13||10||-£12m||12|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||1||1||6||6||18||4||-£24.2m||7|
And when we come to think about it, there are many many reasons why they are unlikely to be. So should we stop worrying about expenditure on players at all?
I’ve long argued that we should, because expenditure on players ignores so many other factors, such as the players who come through the youth system, the way the players merge together, the ability of the club to sell high and buy quality on the cheap, the injury situation, etc.
Sometimes there seems to be no link at all between expenditure and position – as with Southampton. They sell their best players, and then are second in the league. Or Everton – who are currently 14th in the league despite their being the fifth highest spender.
Liverpool’s 9th place is presumably concerning for some of those who support that club, because they were hoping to maintain a top four position, and there was such a large amount of bullish talk by their manager of using the Suarez money to generate two brilliant players to take the club forwards.
Of course new players don’t fit in at once, injuries at different times in the season can affect results, the way the fixtures pan out affects early positions, and indeed with a table this early in the season, one match can change positions – as it will do this afternoon.
But… there is one other factor. Once money has been spent, it can’t be spent again, Of course Man U, having spent £133.5m presumably still have lots of cash lurking around which they could spend further. Their worldwide marketing has always been praised on Untold – and here we see it working again. And Arsenal are already talking of spending more in January.
QPR could presumably try and buy their way up the league in January, but they already know that if they go down, they’ll be kicked out of the Football League for flagrantly breaking the League FFP regulations in their promotion year. What they also have to be wary of is the fact that the under-heralded Premier League FFP regs also come in this season – unless the League changes its mind.
But as we go on pondering it becomes ever more clear how many other factors there are here – like how much was spent in the year before and what the reserves of the club are.
In fact, what the figures seem to show is that the notion that a club underspends is not directly related to its league position, and that spending a massive amount in one transfer window does not automatically mean success.
The old Daily Mirror taunt about whether it is Wenger or the board who refuses to spend money, doesn’t really add up in the face of the above. The issue is who you sell and who you buy, and how many of them get kicked to bits.
- 117 players tipped as coming to Arsenal before the window closes
- Why Arsenal recruited a new defence first, then a new attack
- After two games we can start to make one or two judgements
- Winning the opening two league games is not that common for Arsenal
- Arsenal? Nothing to see here. It’s only news when they’re losing.