Matt Maher: Regulator? The Premier League can afford one
Remember when we wondered whether the impact of the pandemic might force Premier League clubs to tighten their belts?
All seems rather laughable now, after the January transfer window closed with England’s top flight having splashed out a combined £815million on transfer fees, another record to go with the £1.9billion spent last summer.
While those eye-watering – some might suggest nauseating – figures say everything about the wealth of the Premier League, it prompts some genuine concerns about the overall health of the sport both at home and abroad.
No other league comes close to the Premier League in terms of spending. The combined amount paid out on transfer fees by top flight clubs in Spain, France, Germany and Italy wasn’t even a quarter of that from those in England. Wolves’ outlay, if you factor in the £43m committed to buy Matheus Cunha, was greater than all of the La Liga and Serie A clubs put together. Bournemouth spent more than Barcelona and Real Madrid.
So what, some might say. After all, it’s hardly the fault of the clubs the Premier League’s £5bn TV deal dwarfs all others. If you’ve got it, spend, it.
And yet, in the bigger picture, the English top flight’s increasing financial dominance isn’t going to reduce the jealousy which first fuelled the notion of a European Super League.
You also can’t help but wonder what the EFL, battling for a bigger share of those TV revenues, must make of it all?
Of the £815m spend, only £25m went to clubs in the Championship and only then after Harry Souttar’s £15m deadline day switch from Stoke to Leicester City boosted the figures at the last minute.
A large chunk of the second tier’s own £20m spend could, meanwhile, be attributed to Burnley and Watford, two clubs enjoying the benefits of parachute payments following relegation from the Premier League last season.
Good luck to an independent regulator, or indeed anyone, tasked with trying to even slightly level the playing field. At least, after these last two transfer windows, Premier League clubs cannot claim to not have the money.