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Association football is not only the world’s most popular sport, it is also the world’s most lucrative one, especially the English Premier League, which has a dedicated global following of some 4.7 billion people. All of this is borne out by the fact that, when the Summer 2014 transfer window closed at midnight on1 September, Premier League Clubs had spent the record sum of £835m on new players during this window, surpassing the record sum of £630m spent this time last year! Of the £835m spent this year, £530m has been spent on players from overseas; £240m has gone to Premier League clubs; and £65m to Football League teams. Dan Jones, a partner in the Deloitte Sport Business Group, has commented on this result as follows: “In a summer where the world’s best players were on show at the World Cup we have again seen how Premier League clubs are able to successfully compete on a global stage in terms of attracting talent.” Jones explains that the record spend this year is down to the fact that the average Premier League club received during the 2013-2014 season over £25m more in central TV distributions than in the previous 2012-2013 season. It is worth mentioning here that the Premier League sold its TV and New Media rights for the seasons 2013-2016 for a record sum of £5 billion! Manchester United, not surprisingly, due to their poor performance last season, in which they finished in seventh place in the Premier League 2013-2014 Table, as well as their failure to qualify for the European Champions League, were the biggest spenders. Their £150m spent on new players is the highest gross spend by any Premier League club to date! It will be interesting to see what effect the new signings, which include the last minute £20m one season loan deal to Manchester United of the twenty-eight year old Colombian striker, Radamel Falcao, from AS Monaco, will have on the fortunes of the club in the new 2014-2015 season, which has already started not entirely auspiciously with, for example, their recent 4-0 defeat by Mk Dons. It has also been suggested that the effect of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules, which are now in force, may have been responsible for these record sums being paid by having introduced some liquidity into the transfer market. However, this, it may be noted, is the opposite effect of what these Rules were designed to do, namely, to introduce some caution into the levels of spending by football clubs, particularly on players and their stratospheric wages! For instance, Falcao reportedly will be Manchester United’s highest paid player, earning £265,000 per week – a record salary for the club! It will be interesting to see if any further records are broken in the next transfer window, in January 2015, and who is on the move and where they are going! Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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