Transfer deadline day: Premier League transfer spend soars over the bar

Top flight football spending hit £835m before the close of the summer transfer window last night.

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 02 Sep 2014

Premier League clubs have spent £835m on new players during the summer transfer window. That's a whopping £200m up from the £630m spent last year, which was in itself a record. Now, surely one doesn't need to be blessed with the incisive vision of Lionel Messi to see that this is a ball-bustingly huge amount of money.

Whether laden with debt or powered by the bottomless pockets of foreign owners (or both), it seems clubs were falling over themselves to flash the credit card, with all the dignity of a 8am scrum outside a new Primark store.

One driver this year was that Premier League broadcast deals have improved, with clubs receiving over £25m more for broadcast distributions than the previous year, according to Deloitte. Add in the summer's World Cup as a shop window, and you have a perfect spending storm.

Especially if your current team is doing really badly. The prize for the biggest spender goes to the debt-laden Manchester United, who offloaded £150m – the highest ever gross spend by a Premier League club.

In fact this is apparently more than the total spend *ever* by United's opponents last week, Burnley.

That didn't stop Burnley holding the giants to a 0-0 draw. Clearly United are still struggling after one season without figurehead manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Yet as a management commentator we can hardly unreservedly endorse the club's 'chuck more money at it and it'll go away' approach to succession planning.

United's biggest outlay was £59.7m. Liverpool, meanwhile, got a £75m injection from the sale of Luis Suarez to Real Madrid. That's a cash pile you can really sink your teeth into. And clearly helps inject liquidity into the domestic market. Deloitte reckons that £530m of the money went overseas, £240m to Premier League clubs and £65m to Football League teams, which clearly benefit hugely from such a cash injection.

So what, you may be asking, is the role of Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules in all this? Surely such regulations would have put a lid on spending, aiding competitiveness and helping to prevent a bubble.

Actually, it seems it may have had the opposite effect. Simon Chadwick, professor of sport at Coventry University, told the BBC that 'it may be that clubs were holding back on transfer spending in the past couple of seasons, until they saw clear signs from Uefa about what was acceptable and what was unacceptable.' Having sussed it out, they simply went and spent more.

Of course, there was a time when the beautiful game was about something other than money. Remember Roy of the Rovers? It never had stories about a magic chequebook.

Here's a deal – when all this spending translates to England winning the World Cup, we'll talk about that instead...

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