The Big 7 clubs, how much they spent and what good is it doing?



By Sir Hardly Anyone

There is a little chart which makes rather interesting reading in my view, but which is not being shown in any of the newspapers or websites I’ve seen (but I may well have missed it what with staying up late last night to collect the last minute stories).  So I’ve created it.

Not just a list of how much each club spent, but also how much it received both this window and last summer’s window.  And then where it is in the league. 

And it is a list that confirms what I gathered from watching the transfers roll in.  The top clubs in the Premier League were not selling.  Not to other English club nor to anyone else.

What’s more, we can also see that league position didn’t have too much to do wiith the amount spent – with one very big exception, Chelsea.

To give a broader perspective we’ve also included in the final column the net amount spent last summer.   Figures are rounded up or down to the nearest million pounds,  A minus sign means the club received more than it spent.

Club Lge pos Spent Received January net Spend Summer net spend Total net spend Total net spend pos
Arsenal 1 £50.5m Nil £50.m £90.m £141m 4
Chelsea 10 £258m £12m £270.2m £223m £493m 1
Liverpool 9 £35m Nil £35m £13.m £49m 6
Manchester City 2 £8.2m Nil £8.m -£62m -£54m 7
Manchester United 4 Nil Nil Nil £175.m £175m 2
Newcastle United 3 £43m Nil £43m £115m £158m 3
Tottenham Hotspur 5 Nil Nil Nil £113m £113m 5

Arsenal turned out to be the second biggest spender among the big seven clubs in January, having been only the fifth biggest spender last summer.  Which when one comes to think about it, is rather interesting.  The fifth biggest spender out of the big seven clubs last summer has moved from being fifth in the league last season to top, which suggests success is not just about spending money, as the media seem to suggest.

Meanwhile Chelsea, who were the biggest spenders last summer, are languishing in tenth, and so having failed to use money to push themsevles up the league they have decided to use money to push themselves up the league.  I guess on the basis that it has to work in the end – otherwise why would clubs keep doing it?

So overall does spending lots of money over two windows raise a club up the league?  In fact although I normally tend to answer that question with a resounding “no” maybe there is a hint that it can do – although clearly not yet in Chelsea’s case.   If it did, Arsenal would be fourth and Manchester City seventh.


League position now Club League position last season Spend position 2022/23 Spend minus lge position
1 Arsenal 5 4 +3
2 Manchester City 1 7 +5
3 Newcastle 11 3 0
4 Manchester United 6 2 -2
5 Totteenham Hots 4 5 0
9 Liverpool 2 6 -3
10 Chelsea 3 1 -9


Clearly, there is some sort of link between the overall spend in the last two windows and the positions of these clubs in the league, but Chelsea’s spending last summer shows that throwing vast amounts of money at a problem doesn’t always solve it – or at least doesn’t always solve it quickly.  So having discovered that, they are doing it again.

The figures do show just how right Manchester City have got it, in terms of using a sovereign wealth fund only surpassed by that available to Newcastle.

But more than anything the table does show that spending is not a guarantee of rising up the table.  For Newcastle, it has worked.  They were 11th last season, third in the spending table for this season and are third in the league.

For Chelsea the reverse is true.  They were third in the league last season, are top of the spending table and are now… 10th.

There is also a suggestion of financial problems ahead.  Liverpool and Tottenham Hots have been spending less than we might otherwise expect, and tales of a lack of money surround Tottenham.  How long will this non-spend policy continue?

Our last column (Spend minus league position) is somewhat fanciful but it does give a bit of an indication of success in the transfer market.   If spending equalled league success the club that spent the most would be top of the league.  Clubs that are doing better than their amount of spending might suggest get a positive number.  Clubs that are doing worse get a negative number.

Of course all the money just spent in January hasn’t had an effect yet, but the table will allow us to see, come May, just how much impact all this spending has had.

Arsenal are three places higher than the spending might suggest.  Chelsea are nine places lower.  Who’d have thought it!

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11 Replies to “The Big 7 clubs, how much they spent and what good is it doing?”

  1. It’s not about spending. It’s about spending it in the right way and on the right players.

  2. I believe that another element ought to be included : how long has the actual manager been in place and how many managers over the past years (excluding the odd caretaker-inbetween manager).

    And we could add the last touch which would be the number of players who came through the academy or the U-xx teams in the past years as well.

    I firmly believe that there are links there as well.

  3. It is about spending.

    It’s about spending because if you don’t you wont win anything.

    Then and only then is it about spending it the right way. Of course you can spend big and not win anything if the other big spenders are spending more wisely, are more settled, have a better manager, have the refs on side, have luck with injuries, have a good youth policy. Yes of course all those factors have an influence, but you can have every single one of those in place, but if you don’t spend big as well, you still will NOT win the PL.

    You only have to look at ARSENAL for confirmation of that. In Wenger we had one of the best managers the PL had ever seen. The club was stable with Wenger settled in for years. We still produced young talent. Yet, we went 10 years without a single trophy. Tell me. Do you think that would of been the case if Wenger had been able to match the spending of Man City Chelsea and Man Utd? Very very unlikely. Therefore our lack of success was all about lack of money. In Arteta we have what appears to be wonderfully astute, modern coach. We have an academy that is producing some of the best talent in the World. A scouting system that appears to be finding real talent. We are now settled again. But what are we still doing? We are spending massive amounts of money because Arteta knows he cannot do it, and by ‘it’ I mean win the PL and have a shot at the CL, without doing so.

    So what do we think NEWCASTLE will do over the next few seasons in an effort to win things? Will they look at getting a good manager? Well yes of course. Try to produce their own talent? Well of course. And if they do that will they win the PL? What do you think? You know, I know, and everyone else knows, the only hope they have of winning the PL is by spending massive amounts of money as well.

    Look at CHELSEA. They have a bit of turmoil. In relative terms they stopped spending big and what happened? Tenthski !!! That’s what happened. So what’s their answer? Get a good manger? Well maybe they have, maybe they haven’t? Produce lots of young talent? Hmmm. One things for sure, even if they have, they know that alone will not cut it if they want to get back to the top. So what are they doing again? Spending absolutely enormous amounts of money again.

    MAN CITY are not actually spending that much at the moment (relatively) but does that mean money has nothing to do with where they are? They are where they are because of the massive amount of money they spent. Yes of course they have a great manager, possibly the best, but he has over the last 10 years spent a Nett BILLION pounds. He knows spending big is an absolute must if you want to win the PL and have a chance at the CL. Pep, is by all accounts the best manager in the World, but even he knows that alone still isn’t enough.

    LIVERPOOL are struggling under another fantastic manager. And why is that? They are just not spending enough money. It’s as simple as that. The truth is, despite a very high Gross spend their nett spending was actually reasonable. No one can say it was small, but relative to Man City and Man Utd for example it was small. As such they actually did well to win the PL. But despite popular opinion they never ‘dominated’ the last 5 years as some sources would have you believe. They won ONE title. Arguably the reason for that is they actually didn’t spend enough. Being clever in the transfer market has eventually bitten them on the backside, as it always was going to. Even with Klopp, if they want to challenge again they need to spend more money, a lot more money. It’s as simple as that.

    Now we come to MAN UTD, the epitome of getting everything else wrong. Poor managers. Poor recruitment. Unstable. A perfect example of how NOT to spend lots of money. But are Man Utd going to have any chance of winning the title if they stop spending big simply because they’ve eventually found a good manager, or are they going to have to continue spending lots and lots of money? Or put it this way, will Man Utd win the PL in the next 5 years if they DON’T continue to spend lots of money as well? Can any team? Not a chance.

    So we have a minimum of 6 teams that will spend big over the next 5 seasons.


    I defy anyone to name a club outside those six that has any chance of winning the Premier League. In fact, it is highly unlikely, even with the luck of the draw, that a team outside those 6 will win any domestic trophy.

    Also as we see, other clubs spend big, but not consistently. West Ham are a perfect example of this. They have been spending pretty high for a while, I believe around 5th 6th biggest, and Moyes actually achieved par for their spend for a while. But they just cannot keep it up against the ‘big boys’.

    Others have splurges and fail.

    Others over achieve for their spend. A great manager gets it right. Exceptional youth policy. It happens. But as sure as eggs are eggs it doesn’t last. Big money keeps poaching their youth. Eventually, as good as their youth policy is it just cant maintain the level. Eventually they drop.

    Southampton are a perfect example of this. They came up from the Championship and then on the back of a wonderful academy, they had a 4 year period from 2013/14 where they finished 8th, 7th, 6th, 8th. There Nett spend over the entire 4 seasons was £7 Million. That’s SEVEN. Flirtations with European football. That is a massive over achievement in relation to their spending. BUT. They won nothing AND it just couldn’t last and gradually they fall away to where their wealth and spending dictates they should be. Brighton have taken their place, The same WILL happen to them.

    In conclusion, these short term, even medium term analysis mean very little. Just because Chelsea and Liverpool are currently under achieving on their net spend, and Brighton and Fulham for example, are over achieving, means very little in the great scheme of things.

    In five years Chelsea and Liverpool will be in and around the top 4. Brighton and Fulham will not. It’s that simple.

    The other day, yet again I put up figures showing that over 20 years over 95% of the PL titles have been won by the big spenders. 75% of all domestic trophies have been won by the big spenders.

    Sorry it is all about MONEY

  4. Spending is no guarantee for success, but not spending can usually lead to failure.

    Investing wisely, like Arteta is doing, usually results positively.

  5. Over the past windows, what I have come to understand is that

    – Arsenal have a strategy,
    – the owners know something about large scale sports organisation mamagement and have the added advantage of being present in multiple sports,
    – they have financial means and will for the long term because this their BUSINESS, not a lottery, not a PR operation, not a personal fantasy of a billionaire owner,
    – in the PL, Arsenal are one of the rare teams that is part of a sports business,
    – they have the means to invest,
    – they don’t get into ‘my dick is bigger then yours’ bidding wars. They just shut up and get their business done,
    – they have competence in evaluating players, in getting the best price, in making them evolve if necessary through loans, in letting go if a player is not good enough,
    – they think long term,
    – the manager may end up being as good as Mr Wenger.

    So I’m coming to a point where I trust the Arsenal process, and sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

    A little note about Mr Wenger. At some point people will have to admit how much of a genius and a gentleman he was, managing that club for 20+ years and making do for so long with so little financial means. And say what you want, but can you tell me the name of another PL manager who’s got a football style to his name ? Wengerball…

  6. Sammy The Snake

    “Spending is no guarantee for success, but not spending can usually lead to failure”.

    Exactly. Basically what I said just in slightly fewer words. 🤣


    “A little note about Mr Wenger. At some point people will have to admit how much of a genius and a gentleman he was, managing that club for 20+ years and making do for so long with so little financial means”

    You would hope so wouldn’t you. I actually believe most people know it anyway, they are just reluctant to say it because it’s not ‘fashionable’ to fawn over Wenger, as it is for example Fergie.

    If the real recognition does come it will be from his peers. Other managers. I believe they always knew it anyway, but remember it was tough for them to admit it because their ‘bosses’ might say, well if Wenger can maintain top 4 on a zero budget why am I spending 10 Million a year to finish in the bottom half?

    But I think you are right, eventually he will be recognised for the genius he was, even in the austerity years, especially in the austerity years. AND as you say, just look at the football we still played.

    Wengerball indeed.


    “Perhaps a column listing wages would be instructive, too”

    Yep, very good point. Without paying these enormous wages you just wont keep your top players.

    Another reason the money is so crucial.

  7. At one level it’s about spend, fundamentally it’s about financial resources that allow the spend. Transfers, wages, infrastructure and facilities, management and administration, you name it, they all cost money. The clubs that can afford to buy top talent also have the resources to invest in all the other things that make for success.
    Arsenal is in excellent shape because they have invested wisely across the board, not least in the stadium. And now in the players. In a way we are now reaping the rewards of the frugality during the transition from Highbury to the Emirates

  8. Spending on top talent is key to success, providing that spend is not out of kilter with your underlying resources. When you spend on players way beyond your means you risk plunging yourself into the abyss, as did Leeds United and Refknapp at Portsmouth.
    Luckily, Wenger and Arsenal were too smart to do that, despite the “spend spend spend” clamour from the terraces.

  9. I do like it that we are not a selling club . We have learned to use our resources well , and MA has the vision to sideline or remove those who are not up to the Arsenal Mark. I do love the way he got rid of PEA ‘s wages off our books , and reinvested the money in other players .
    I guess it also a bonus when your owner is in it for the long haul , and not in the business of making money for others ! Venture capitalists beware !

  10. @Brickfield Gunners,

    Exactly, we are not a spending club anymore, but a club with a clearly defined long term business strategy. And Arsenal have got a very good management team. They are part of an organisation that ‘does’ sport. Not a venture, not a fashionable investment nor a PR whitewashing operation.

    And this to me means we are in for the long run, and can expect the show to go on for a while.

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