Football: Premier League runs up $778m transfer deficit

Manchester United's Angel Di Maria (left) celebrates with team-mate Radamel Falcao after scoring a goal against Leicester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the King Power stadium in Leicester, northern England on Sept 21, 2014.
Manchester United's Angel Di Maria (left) celebrates with team-mate Radamel Falcao after scoring a goal against Leicester City during their English Premier League soccer match at the King Power stadium in Leicester, northern England on Sept 21, 2014. The English Premier League ran up a record 379.1 million pounds (S$778 million) deficit in its pre-season purchases of foreign football stars but more than covered its spending with extra TV and rights earnings around the world, a report said on Thursday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The English Premier League ran up a record 379.1 million pounds (S$778 million) deficit in its pre-season purchases of foreign football stars but more than covered its spending with extra TV and rights earnings around the world, a report said on Thursday.

English clubs led by Manchester United spent 579.3 million pounds recruiting imports in the July-August transfer window, Barclays Football Balance of Trade report said.

Foreign clubs spent 200 million pounds on English players leaving the Premier League with a trade deficit of 379.1 million pounds - seven times higher than Germany's Bundesliga in second place.

China, notably, had the third-highest football trade deficit as it brings in foreign players to boost its Super League.

Despite the amount of football money pouring out of England, overseas television and foreign sponsorship rights now earn more than 1 billion pounds more than covering the deficit.

Barclays said the Premier League's foreign earnings were almost double that of Spain, which took 35 per cent of the money English clubs paid out for foreign stars like Angel di Maria, who went to Manchester United for 59.7 million pounds.

The Premier League now earns more than 744 million pounds a year from television rights and paid sponsorships will bring in another 343 million pounds for the 2014-15 season. The sponsorship figure could be much higher as some amounts are not disclosed, the report added.

"Matches from England's Premier League are beamed to around 211 countries across the globe, and overseas corporations want to be part of what is regarded by many as the best football league in the world," said Chris Lee, head of professional sports banking at Barclays.

In Europe, Spain accounted for 35 per cent of the export market during the transfer window. It spent an estimated 315 million pounds but sold 363 million pounds to give a healthy surplus.

France's Ligue 1 moved from being one of the biggest net importers of football talent in 2013-14 transfer window, with a deficit of 124 million pounds, to the third-biggest exporter in 2014-15. It had a football surplus of 86.6 million pounds for the 2014-15 pre-season transfer window.

German clubs sold high-profile players like World Cup winner Toni Kroos, who went to Madrid for an estimated 30 million euros (S$48.6 million), but still spent an estimated 140.8 million pounds for a deficit of 53.8 million pounds.

Brazil always makes money from sending players abroad, but its surplus has gone down to 19.9 million pounds from 161.2 million pounds in 2013-14.

China's Super League is emerging as a major importer of overseas talent as it grows. China had a deficit of 7.4 million pounds for the pre-season transfer window, modest but still the world's third biggest.