English Premier League Record Transfer Fees: For the Good of the Game?

The International Sports Law Journal, January-April 2008 | Go to article overview

English Premier League Record Transfer Fees: For the Good of the Game?


Football is not only the world's favourite sport, it is also the most lucrative one. Globally, worth billions of dollars! And of all the Leagues around the world, the English Premier League (EPL) is by far the most popular and also the most financially successful, with a total wage bill which has now topped 1 billion [pounds sterling]. The financial wealth and spending power of the EPL is certainly borne out by figures recently released concerning the amount spent by EPL Clubs on players during the January 2008 transfer window, which, according to Alex Ferguson of Manchester United, the world's richest club, is not necessarily the best time of the year to buy new players. According to Deloitte's, the well-known accountants and financial services firm, who, amongst other things, monitor football finances, the amount spent by EPL Clubs on transfers was 150 million [pounds sterling]; in fact, more than double that of any previous January periods. The comparable figure for 2007 was 60 million [pounds sterling]. Again, the rational behind all this transfer spending was to improve the performance and chances of the Clubs concerned in winning football competitions and even, in some cases, avoiding relegation from the prestigious and lucrative EPL!

This spending spree on players is largely the result of the record sale of the EPL TV rights of 1.7 billion [pounds sterling] for the current and the next two seasons. The top spender was Chelsea with 27 million [pounds sterling], closely followed by Tottenham Hotspur with 20 million [pounds sterling]

Paul Rawnsley, director of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte's, commented on these record transfer figures as follows:

"We had the record spending last summer which was fuelled by expectations that the clubs had on the back of money from television, and spending by new club owners. The same factors have been seen in the January window, except that now clubs have actually got their hands on the broadcasting money. …

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