Big clubs slash January transfer window spending

With COVID-19 hitting Premier League clubs in the pocket the amount of money spent on players in the January transfer window was the lowest since 2012, says Deloitte. Tony McDonough reports

Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp brought in two centre halves. Photo by Colin Lane


A sign of how much COVID-19 has hit football finances was illustrated in the latest transfer window with total money spent on players 48% below the five-year average.

According to accountancy giant, Deloitte, just 24 Premier League transfers were completed during the window, which closed at 11pm on February 1. This compares to an average of 46 transfers across the previous three January windows.

Total gross transfer expenditure of Premier League clubs during the January 2021 window fell from £230m in January 2020 to just £70m, the lowest since 2012. Over 75% of the expenditure was driven by just three £10m-plus transfers: Said Benrahma, Amad Diallo and Morgan Sanson.

On Merseyside, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp brought in two centre halves – Ben Davies came from Preston North End for £2m and Ozan Kabak arrived from Schalke on a £500,000 loan deal with an £18m option to buy in the summer.

Everton have signed striker Joshua King from Bournemouth on a short-term deal. Tranmere Rovers also brought in two players on loans deals – Ali Crawford from Bolton Wanderers and former Leicester City striker David Nugent joined from Preston North End.

Deloitte says Brexit and the restriction of free movement of labour between the UK and Europe may also have contributed to the quieter window. This is the first window since the introduction of a points based system for English clubs to sign all foreign players.

Similar trends can be seen across the other ‘big five’ European leagues as the financial impact of the pandemic is felt across the continent. The volume of transfers in January was just over half their previous three-year average for January. 

Dan Jones, partner at the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “Premier League clubs were understandably cautious in the January transfer window given the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite this, Premier League clubs’ very busy summer window, at a time when the rest of European football was more restrained, saw total net expenditure for the 2020/21 season reach a new record level of £950m. It remains to be seen if the relatively low activity in January will continue throughout 2021. We certainly do not expect to see another new record this summer.

“During the January 2021 window, Premier League clubs’ expenditure on players from non-English clubs fell to just £45m. In the previous two January transfer windows, Premier League clubs’ spend on this category of expenditure averaged £165m. 

“While new post-Brexit rules on acquiring players from overseas may have contributed to this, the financial impact of the pandemic was, by far, a more important factor.”

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