Who spends the most on transfers in Europe and League financial support

by Tony Attwood

Professional football clubs in Switzerland have been offered loans to help see them through the current crisis. But there is an interesting caveat.   The clubs which take the loan will not only have to repay it but lower their payroll by 20% within three years.

It is an extraordinarily imaginative scheme, because it says quite clearly to the clubs – “You got yourselves into this mess by spending so much on salaries that you had nothing in reserve when a crisis came along.  So we need to make sure you don’t do it again.

The response in Switzerland seems to be positive with all clubs – even those who will not apply for a loan – currently having the same desire to reduce their payroll, and there is the thought that the availability of the loans will make more clubs vote in favour of a quick resumption of League football in Switzerland.

A similar sort of progress is however not being found in England where multiple issues are still getting in the way of a resumption

The idea is now that of playing ghost games in the normal stadia of each club, but there is still no agreement on what happens concerning players who have contracts that run out at the end of June, how to get the players fit again, whether playing ghost games impinges on the legitimacy of the League, and the health and safety of everyone involved.

And now the bottom six have found another straw to clutch. On Tuesday evening, the Telegraph reported a growing feeling in some top-flight clubs that if the Championship season cannot be concluded there should be no promotion to or relegation from the Premier League.

So there is now appearing the first arguments to use this crisis as a moment completely to re-write the rule book, to stop the Premier League clubs getting ever richer, to put money aside for a future crisis,

These figures show the net spend across the last six years – the league position is this season at the close of the league.

The top ten English spenders, 2015/16 to 2020/1

# Club Expenditure Income Balance

Figures from Transfermarket

Here, the story that we have presented before is repeating itself.  There is no direct link between league position and expenditure and thus this table has a multiplicity of issues within it.  Manchester City massively outspending everyone in order to try and stay at the top and failing.  Arsenal in third, despite the endless whining and whinging by AST and its associated supporters’ groups who demand more and more spending.

Now in Europe, the top spenders.  Again the Manchester two at the top.  But look at this figure for Brighton and Wolverhampton either side of Real Madrid.  Aston Villa we may note being above Bayern Munich.

# Club Expenditure Income Balance

Yet again, and I don’t know how many times we have to present figures to show this, Arsenal is a high spender in recent years and has slipped down the league as it has spent more and more.   Clubs like Villa are spending massively but can’t get out of relegation trouble.

We have also followed Wolverhampton as a case study.  They have borrowed next year’s first TV money payment – meaning they have already spent all of this season’s TV money (which they might still have to pay back) and the first third of next year’s cash.

There are a few words for this.  First, spending money does not guarantee rises up the league.  Second, this is insane.  That about sums it up.

2 Replies to “Who spends the most on transfers in Europe and League financial support”

  1. Premier league top Nett spenders seasons 2008/09 to 2018/19 and domestic trophies(11 seasons) in order of spend:


    Nett Spend £1.1 Billion


    4 Premiership Titles (1st)
    2 FA Cups (2nd)
    5 EFL Cups (1st)

    11 Trophies in total (1st)

    Money well spent it seems.


    Nett Spend £847 Million


    3 Premiership Titles (=2nd)
    1 FA Cup (4th)
    3 EFL Cups (2nd)

    7 Trophies in total (3rd)


    Nett Spend £422 Million


    3 Premiership Titles (=2nd)
    4 FA Cups (1st)
    1 EFL Cup (3rd)

    8 trophies in Total (2nd)


    So the top Nett spender has won the most League titles with 4, the best barometer of success, with the 2nd and 3rd top Nett spenders winning 3 each. That’s the 3 biggest Nett spenders winning 10 out of the last 11 titles.

    FA CUP

    The 2nd most important domestic trophy has been won 7 out of the last 11 times by the 3 top Nett spenders with 3 of the remaining 4 being won by Arsenal, the 4th top Nett spender over the period.


    The top Nett spender, Man city, have won nearly half of them with 4 of the 6 remainder being won by the 2nd and 3rd top spenders.


    1st top Nett spenders Manchester City have won the most domestic trophies with 11.

    2nd top Nett spenders Manchester United are 3rd with 7 domestic trophies.

    3rd top Nett spenders Chelsea are 2nd with 8 domestic trophies.

    The 4th biggest Nett spenders, Arsenal, are by some miracle of coincidence the 4th biggest trophy winners with 3 FA Cups.

    That means the 4 biggest Nett spenders are the 4 biggest trophy winners. Not only that they are almost in the exact same order.

    Over the last 11 seasons the top 4 spenders have won 29 of the 33 available trophies.

    Even Liverpool, the new kids on the block, where the 5th biggest Nett spenders over that period so their recent rise is hardly on the back of years of austerity. Yes there current Nett spend is relatively low, mainly on the back of an astronomical sale, but there Goss spending is enormous. Hardly paupers.

    Whether it be the season in which the money is spent or not, it is utterly misleading to suggest that money spent on transfers, more specifically the nett spend on transfers, is not directly linked to success on the pitch.

    Of course the fortunes of the top spenders waxed and waned as they battled each other.

    Nuances such as new managers, good and bad, loss or gains of top players, a bit of fortune or mis fortune with youth players, injuries, decisions, can make that important difference.

    But above and beyond that the statistics show that whoever the manager, however the dice roll, the one, undeniable, incontrovertible truth is, THE MORE YOU SPEND THE MORE YOU WIN, you just have to keep doing it, year after year after year. That’s the secret.

    Just saying.

    All Nett spend figures from:


  2. Just as an example, I’m going to show you a 7 year period in Chelseas history that perfectly demonstrates just how these short term correlations between nett spend and winning trophies is so misleading. The period I’m showing is season 2008 – 2009 through season 2014 – 2015.

    Prior to season 2008 – 2009

    £10 Million Nett PROFIT

    Zero trophies

    2009 – 2010

    £17 Million Nett LOSS

    PL + FA Cup Trophies

    So following 2 seasons with a total Nett spend of a miserly £7 Million Chelsea won the double.

    So on the face of it NOT spending money wins trophies.

    Lets look at the next 4 seasons:

    2010 – 2011 £82 Million nett LOSS
    2011 – 2012 £63 Million nett LOSS
    2012 – 2013 £72 Million nett LOSS
    2013 – 2014 £49 Million nett LOSS

    1 FA Cup

    A 4 year Nett LOSS of £266 Million or £66 Million per season and all Chelsea won was a solitary FA Cup in season 2011 – 2012.

    So on the face of it spending money doesn’t win trophies.

    2014 – 2015 £5 Million nett LOSS

    PL = EFL Cup

    So following a season of a mere £5 Million nett spend suddenly Chelsea win 2 trophies.

    So on the face of it NOT spending money wins trophies.

    So over that period if you isolate certain seasons or small groups of seasons and make direct comparisons of Nett Spend Versus Trophies Won, you could certainly argue that spending large amounts of money doesn’t work, but that would be utterly misleading.

    If you look at the period as a whole Chelsea had a Nett spend of £278 Million, or £40 Million per season and it secured them 2 PL titles, 2 FAC’s and 1 EFL Cup.

    Okay Chelsea won the double after a close season Nett spend of just £5 Million, but are we really saying they would of won all they did had they NOT spent that enormous amount of money.

    If you analyse both Manchester Uniteds and Manchester City’s spending it shows a similar pattern.

    No, these mega spenders don’t always win trophies following a close seasons splurge. As Chelsea demonstrate even 3 or 4 seasons of big spending can be baron but eventually the rewards will come, and it may be following a season of consolidation, a season when you don’t spend that much, but that isn’t the point.

    The key is maintaining your high average nett spend, not just over 2 or 3 seasons but year in year out.

    Staying with Chelsea, following on from this 7 year period Chelsea spent an additional £140 million over the next 3 seasons, taking their total 10 year nett spend to an eye watering £418 Million or £42 Million per season, which won them another PL and FAC.

    Now I think we’d all agree that Chelsea are at a bit of a crossroads. They started the Lampard era well but of late haven’t looked quite so good.

    Could this be more to do with there spending?

    Okay, last summer Chelsea had an enormous nett spend of £152 Million, but, and it’s a big but, the previous season they had a £145 Million nett profit meaning an overall 2 year nett spend of a mere £7 Million. The last time Chelsea had a 2 year nett spend like that they won the double. Not this time.

    So, I ask you, how are Chelsea going to get back to where they were?

    Are we really saying that maintaining an average nett spend of say £5 million per season over the next 5 years will cut it?

    History suggest not.

    What history suggests, as My figures show, is that what Chelsea need to do, if they want to challange again for the title, is to spend as they have over the previous 10 years, and that means spending a more than £5 million a season, a lot lot more.

    And the sad truth is that’s exactly what Arsenal have to do.

    Just because we didn’t move forward on the back of last seasons big spend doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do.

    I contest history shows, as I have shown above, that what happened to us is not at all unusual. One seasons spend is by and large irrelevant. It is being able to maintain a high average level of spending over a number of years. If Arsenal do that history suggests they will at least get back into a challenging position. If we don’t we will remain exactly where we are.

    It may not be what people want to hear. It may not be what we can do. It is the reality of the situation, as unpalatable as that may be for some people.

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