Football: TV bonanza a catalyst for EPL spending spree

A television camera operator films Stoke City's manager Mark Hughes during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Manchester City.
A television camera operator films Stoke City's manager Mark Hughes during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Manchester City. PHOTO: AFP

January transfer frenzy driven by relegation-zone clubs eager to retain share of record TV revenue

LONDON • Fear of missing out on English football's biggest-ever payday drove the Premier League's relegation-threatened clubs on a spending spree this month, with Championship sides hoping for promotion also splashing the cash.

An analysis by business consultants Deloitte of the transfer window that closed on Monday showed that the six clubs at the bottom of the table accounted for more than half of all Premier League spending. They paid £90 million (S$184.7 million), out of an overall figure of £175 million, compared to £20 million paid out by the bottom six in January last year, when they made up less than 20 per cent of the total.

Next season will see Premier League clubs share more television revenue than ever, thanks to a record-breaking £5.1 billion deal with broadcasters Sky and BT that runs from 2016 to 2019.

That has increased the rewards of staying up while clubs battling for promotion have more of an incentive to spend.

"This January's spending has been driven in large part by clubs in the bottom half of the table," said Dan Jones, a partner in Deloitte's Sports Business Group.

"The promise of the new broadcast deal for Premier League clubs from next season onwards and the threat of missing out through relegation is contributing to clubs investing in an attempt to stay in the league."

  • £90m
    Amount of transfer money spent by the bottom six clubs out of £175 million spent by the English Premier League.

  • £110m
    Amount of transfer money spent on overseas players last month, the highest-ever total spent on overseas players in the January transfer window.

  • £18.3m
    Biggest transfer deal of this transfer window - Stoke's capture of Porto's Giannelli Imbula.

  • £68.6m
    Broadcast revenue given out last season to Aston Villa, who were the last team to avoid relegation.

Spending by second-tier Championship clubs in the January transfer window was around £35 million, with promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough paying a reported £9 million for Scotland striker Jordan Rhodes.

Not surprisingly, clubs in the top six positions accounted for 70 per cent of second-tier spending.

No Premier League club received less than £64 million when the money was shared out last season with Aston Villa, who narrowly avoided the drop in 17th place, taking £68.6 million. Winners Chelsea received £99 million, according to Premier League figures.

Under the Premier League agreement, half of the British broadcast revenue is split equally between the clubs with 25 per cent paid in merit payments and the remainder coming in "facility fees" based on television exposure.

Newcastle United (18th), Norwich City (17th) and Watford (10th) were the Premier League's biggest gross spenders in the window and accounted for about 40 per cent of the total.

Newcastle spent a reported £12 million on Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend and the same on Swansea City's England midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.

Sunderland (19th) made a clutch of signings while Bournemouth (16th) and Swansea City (15th) were busy, but Villa, last and seemingly doomed to relegation with 10 points between them and Norwich, spent nothing.

Deloitte said the £175 million spent by English clubs was the highest for a January transfer window since the £225 million spent in the 2010-11 window, when Liverpool sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a then British-record £50 million and used the proceeds to buy Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Deloitte said January also saw the highest-ever total spent by Premier League clubs on players from overseas, with a total of £110 million compared to £65 million in the same period last year.

Overall, spending in January took the Premier League's transfer outlay for the 2015-16 season to £1.045 billion - a new record.

Stoke City's £18.3 million capture of French midfielder Giannelli Imbula from Porto, concluded late on Monday, was the biggest deal.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'TV BONANZA A CATALYST FOR EPL SPENDING SPREE'. Print Edition | Subscribe