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Premier League spending falls to £100m in slowest January transfer window since 2021

Premier League clubs' gross spend of £100m during the 2024 January transfer window is £715m lower than the record-breaking total spent in the 2023 January window (£815m);

Other than January 2021, when club activities were restricted by the pandemic, this is the lowest level of Premier League spending in a transfer window since 2012 (£60m);

Despite this, clubs’ total spend of £2.5bn over the 2023/24 season is the second highest ever, behind the record set in the 2022/23 season (£2.7bn);

In contrast, spending across the rest of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues rose to €455m from €255m in the January 2023 window;

English Football League clubs’ total gross transfer expenditure is also lower than previous years falling to £15m in this transfer window, compared to £25m in January 2023;

44 transfers took place across the Women’s Super League (WSL) during the January 2024 transfer window, a 14% fall in transfer volume compared to the January 2023 window (51);

An active summer transfer window means that the 2023/24 season saw 226 transfers across the WSL, a higher level of transfer activity than each of the previous three seasons.

Premier League spending

Premier League clubs spent £100m in the 2024 January transfer window, according to analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. This marks the lowest Premier League gross transfer expenditure since January 2012 (£60m), excluding the January 2021 window (£70m) when activities were restricted by COVID-19.

Despite this, Premier League clubs’ total seasonal spend of £2.5bn in the 2023/24 season is the second highest ever, behind the 2022/23 season (£2.7bn).

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “After record breaking spending in the last three transfer windows, Premier League clubs’ spending this January has been subdued. The more prudent approach is likely driven by the high level of spend invested during the summer window but may also have been influenced by a heightened awareness of the Premier League’s financial regulations and the potential repercussions of non-compliance. Securing the highest quality player talent remains pivotal for Premier League clubs, but we’ve seen in this window that retention has been of higher priority than attraction.”

The 2024 January transfer window marked the first January window since 2019 – when it was surpassed by the Chinese Super League – in which the Premier League did not have the highest transfer expenditure of any league globally. It is also the first window since the summer of 2011 – when Serie A spent €565m - in which the Premier League was not the highest spending league in Europe.

Similarly defying previous trends, spending by clubs at the top and bottom of the Premier League fell short of previous levels. At the end of the spending window, cumulative transfer expenditure among the three clubs in the relegation zone was £2m (by one club), compared to the combined c.£130m spent by two of the three clubs in the same position in January 2023. Similarly, only one of the top-three clubs in the table spent this January, bringing collective spend among this group to £15m, compared to £110m in the 2023 January transfer window.

Global transfer market

In contrast to the fall in Premier League spending, cumulative gross spend across the rest of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues rose by 80% year-on-year to €455m in the 2024 January transfer window (€255m in January 2023). The net spend of these leagues was €180m.

Ligue 1 clubs had the highest gross transfer spend among Europe’s ‘big five’ with expenditure of €190m, an increase of €65m (53%) compared to January 2023 (€125m).

Elsewhere in Europe, Serie A (€75m: 256%), La Liga (€45m: 120%) and the Bundesliga (€15m: 21%) also reported year-on-year increases in gross transfer spend.

Serie A was also the only of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues to have reported net receipts in this window, with transfer income exceeding expenditure by €25m. Conversely, the spending of clubs from the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Ligue 1 exceeded their transfer receipts.

Calum Ross, assistant director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, commented: “The domino effect created by high value transfers and a desire to improve on-pitch performance ahead of the final part of the season are usually key drivers of transfer spending, but this hasn't been reflected in January's subdued transfer window. As we move towards this summer’s window, and a new financial year, we expect to see spending return to similar levels we have seen in the last two record-breaking summer transfer windows.”

Behind Ligue 1, Brazil’s Série A clubs had the second-highest spend globally (€145m) following several high-value transfer receipts from major European clubs.

Notably, spending by Saudi Pro League clubs was lower in this January transfer window (c.€25m), following spend of nearly €1bn in the Summer 2023 window.

WSL transfer market

Forty-four transfers took place across the WSL during the January transfer window. Despite a relatively quiet January in the women’s game, with the volume of transfers down by 14% compared with the 2023 winter spending window (51), an active summer window means that the 2023/24 season saw a higher level of transfer activity than each of the three seasons before.

A total of 226 transfers took place across the WSL in the 2023/2024 season, up from 196 in 2022/23, 215 in 2021/2022 and 179 in 2020/21.

Deloitte’s analysis highlights that clubs are reaching beyond their historic talent pool of the NWSL, Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, and English top tier leagues. Over a third (36%) of transfers into WSL clubs came from leagues outside of this pool, up from 26% in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

Similarly, a higher number of WSL players have transferred out of the league. In the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons, more than half (57%) of players transferred from WSL clubs moved to join clubs out of this league, up from 45% in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

Amy Clarke, women’s sport lead in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “The fact we are seeing WSL clubs acquire talent from a broader range of leagues, as well as a growing number of WSL players moving to play further afield, demonstrates the increasing globalisation of the women’s football market. This widening talent pathway is a positive indicator of the increased professionalisation of the women’s game.

“With contracts for a number of top players set to expire this year, we might have anticipated greater fee-generating movement of those players in this window. Instead, we could now see those players leave their clubs for free this summer.

“In future transfer windows, we expect to see sharper competition between top tier leagues and clubs as they seek to attract and retain top talent. It will be interesting to see whether player trading will become a more significant contributor to clubs' business models, as they look to further capitalise on the potential of the women's transfer market.”

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