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Transfer market: end of negative trend

The 67th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report analyses from an economic perspective transfer operations carried out by big-5 league clubs during the last decade.

It notably shows that the declining trend in investments after the health crisis has stopped.

During the last transfer window, clubs from the five major European leagues spent 2% more than in the previous summer.

The study also shows that the pandemic has reinforced the domination of English Premier League clubs on the transfer market. The percentage of spending of the latter in comparison to the total big-5 league clubs’ transfer expenditure has increased from 35% between January 2012 and January 2020 to over 45% for the three post-COVID transfer windows.

The percentage of investments of the ten clubs having spent the most has also increased between these periods (from 33% to 35% per transfer window on average), as that of the ten most expensive transfers in comparison to the total (from 30% to 33%).

All the indicators show a trend towards a concentration of spending from the richest clubs, in particular the wealthiest Premier League ones.

Six English teams are at the top of the rankings for the most negative post-pandemic net transfer spending, with Manchester United (-€217 million) ahead of Chelsea (-€205 M) and Arsenal (-€194 M).

Since the COVID crisis, English top division clubs recorded a total deficit of almost two billion euro in transfer operations.

Conversely, Spanish Liga teams registered a positive net balance (+€200 million).

Within the context of a general crisis, the English Premier League is the only competition where a majority of clubs invest massively on the transfer market.

This allowed many teams from the other big-5 leagues, and, in a cascade effect, further down, to limit the impact of the health crisis and shows the importance of a global transfer system as it currently exists.

At the same time, the dependence of a growing number of clubs even within the wealthiest leagues on transfer incomes highlights the weakness of the current professional football economic system.

The survival of more and more teams pivots indeed on the profits generated through the transfer of their best players. This situation is both financially dangerous and sportingly limiting.


About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). Created in 2005 by Dr. Raffaele Poli and Dr. Loïc Ravenel, the CIES Football Observatory currently comprises a staff of four full-time permanent researchers who specialise in the statistical analysis of football. Click here for more information.

About the CIES

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel. Click here for more information. Click here for more information.

CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport
Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
Phone +41 32 718 39 00 - Fax +41 32 718 39 01
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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