How PL clubs spent less this summer and yet still bought more players

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Since 1 January, all players transferred from EU countries to English clubs have required an endorsement from the Football Association to be granted a work permit, and English clubs have been banned from signing under 18 year olds from foreign lands.

This, it was feared, could have had a major impact on transfers, not least because the FA are known to take two weeks to answer the phone, and have still failed to apologise for their part in banning women’s football.

But meanwhile players seem to have been moving around as if nothing had changed!

What’s more, as we noted in the previous report, the Football Observatory website tells us that “Since 2014, the annual inflation growth rate on the transfer market for big-5 league footballers has been 26%.”

So, top footballers cost more with an inflation rate of 26%, bringing players in from the EU has been harder, and foreign players can’t be signed until they are 18.  Which should have affected the transfer market this summer rather considerably.   So what did all that mean when put together?

In total, Premier League clubs spent £1.1bn on transfers during the window. That was 11% less than the previous summer’s total of £1.3bn.  Last year was itself 9% down on 2019 which clocked in at around £1.45bn.

In rough and ready terms the amount spent by the Premier League has gone down by around £100m a year, but the cost of players has risen by 26% a year!!!

But the Premier League clubs together signed 148 players in summer 2021, compared with 132 in summer 2020 and 128 in summer 2019.

Which put together tells us, top footballers cost more, PL clubs are spending less, but PL clubs are buying more players.  How come?

In fact the key stat is that each year the number of players signed by PL clubs on a free is going up year after year.  It is now at 22%.  Only four PL clubs this summer didn’t get a player on a free.  Last season it was eight.

The story of a decline in transfer spend is replicated across all the main leagues in Europe, except Germany where the Bundesliga actually did increase its gross spending.

But the Premier League is still the big spender.  Different sources quote different amounts but the £1.1bn figure is most often seen.  Exactly comparable and reliable analyses from other leagues are hard to get but from what we can work out the PL’s transfer market this summer was ten times the size of the market for top league clubs in Spain, Italy and France!!!

Now all these figures are vital to any understanding of the transfer market, but they are all ignored by the anti-Arsenal machine that is newspaper and website commentary on Arsenal.

Thus the Mirror announced yesterday that “Arsenal [are] set to repeat Aaron Ramsey mistake as transfer deadline day draws to a close”

To explain this bit of invention the Mirror quotes its own website (Football.London) as if it were an independent source, saying “ report that Alexandre Lacazette will run down his contract and leave without handing the Gunners funds in June 2022.”

This is reported as a total cock-up by Arsenal – the implication clearly being that other clubs don’t get into such a situation.  And yet here we are where getting on for a quarter of transfers are on a free at the end of the contract across all clubs.

The idea reported is that Lacazette would go to Atletico Madrid, but the fact is that Spanish transfer dealings were massively down this year, not just because of the European decline in transfers but also because of the collapse of Barcelona’s finances, which normally help power the Spanish market.  Barcelona made a profit of £35m on transfers this summer.

And then when we consider the news that Mbappe will rejoin Real Madrid on a free next summer, Laca running down his contract hardly even seems worth a mention.

So while the Mirror and FoLo play anti-Arsenal games with “Arsenal are set to repeat Aaron Ramsey mistake as transfer deadline day draws to a close” the fact is that either they are deliberately manipulating the news to make it fit with their “Arsenal are in chaos, Edu is an idiot” agenda, or the people at the Mirror and FoLo don’t really understand what is going on in football transfers.

Of course the big problem for the Mirror and the rest of them is that the entire Premier League only signed 148 players this summer.   But the media tipped over 130 players as likely to be coming to Arsenal.  We’ll be back to that rather interesting situation shortly.

What the media now has to do is continue its argument that Arsenal were the odd ones out, failing to buy and sell properly while the rest of the league gets it right.  Yet that is utter nonsense.  What actually happened was that journalists tipped over 130 players to be coming to Arsenal and only six arrived.  And that is just a part of the story they are desperate to cover up.

5 Replies to “How PL clubs spent less this summer and yet still bought more players”

  1. The Mirror and Football London feeds only seem to consist of ridiculous stories seeking to undermine Arsenal these days. I’ve started blocking them where I can on social media.

  2. i would call the journos useful idiots but they are neither useful nor as clever as idiots.

  3. It appears to me from a quick look around that the general opinion amongst journalists and (so called) expert pundits is we have had a poor window in spite of topping the amount spent league table. We have either paid to much for a player, the player is not good enough, should have bought player B rather than the one we did buy and so on and so on. Plus we did not get rid of all our dead wood, and did too many loan deals rather than sales. Where we did sell we sold too cheap etc etc.
    Bottom line, we cannot win whatever we do.
    On the very rare occasion we come across a slightly positive article it is nearly always laced with the odd sarcastic remark so we are left in no doubt as to the writers true feelings about Arsenal FC.
    As far as the media are concerned it’s all negative where Arsenal are concerned.
    On the matter of Arsenal allowing their players to run their contracts down Crystal Palace (who I follow closely as they were my local team for years) had ten players in that position at the end of last season and did not receive any criticism at all that I saw.

  4. Mick,

    IMHO, this window was a total failure for not bringing in Messi… ;=)))

    And had Edu brought him in, what a deluge of negativism we would have gotten because h’d be labelled too old, too expensive, too whatever. Same for Ronaldo.

  5. And the saddest things about it are that so many of our own ex players lead the attack, and on the back of that, way too many of our fans buy into it.

    We had a guy come on here the other day banging on about how good at sorting everything out other teams were compared to us.

    He included Spurs in his list of Clubs we should aspire to.

    I pointed out that Spurs, despite being brilliant at everything have been on a steady decline for the last 5 seasons and have won absolutely nothing, well apart from the Premiership last November and again this August apparently !

    Arsenal on the other hand, despite being the worst run club in the World over the last 5 years have still managed to win 2 FA Cups and 2 Community shields.

    I know we would all like more but still infinitely better than Spurs, who have actually won just 2 League Cups in the last 30 years.

    So lets just re cap that: Spurs, over the last 30 years, have won less than Arsenal over the last 5 disastrous years.

    As I have said before, even my Spurs mates concede the media love-in is embarrassing.

    What’s more embarrassing is the way some of our own fans cant even see it and actually point to Spurs as a club we should try to emulate.

    It it wasn’t so mind numbingly embarrassing it would be funny.

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