Football: English clubs hit spending record of $1.9b despite sluggish January sales

LONDON (REUTERS) - England's Premier League clubs spent a record 950 million pounds (S$1.93 billion) on the August and January transfers this season even though spending in the winter window matched last year's figure of 130 million pounds, according to accountancy firm Deloitte.

Despite clubs' "relative restraint" in January, the total spending in 2014-15 surpassed the 2013-14 record of 760 million pounds, Deloitte said. The amount spent in January was far less than the 225 million pounds record for the winter established in January 2011.

Mr Dan Jones, a partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte who have been monitoring the spending of clubs for the last two decades, said: "Given the record level of spending seen in the summer, it is not entirely surprising that we haven't seen a new record for the January window."

The biggest spenders were champions Manchester City, league leaders Chelsea and Champions League perennials Arsenal, who between them accounted for around half of the total, according to the firm.

The window ended on Monday more with a whimper than a bang with the biggest deal of the day being Chelsea's 35 million euros (S$53.6 million) for Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado from Italian club Fiorentina. The Cuadrado deal was part-funded by the English club's sale of Andre Schurrle to German side Wolfsburg for 22 million pounds.

But the last-minute shopping spree often associated with the closing of the January transfer window failed to materialise as Europe's top clubs largely kept their powder dry.

European football body Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules have made it less likely that clubs sign players without first off-loading some of their squad, stalling the usual merry-go-round. Transfers of players from the Premier League to other European leagues is also hindered by the huge salaries.

The reluctance of club managers to part with players at such a delicate phase of the season has also become an increasing factor in the mid-season window.