LONDON (AFP) - Premier League clubs have shelled out a record £1.4 billion (S$2.5 billion) in transfers this season, according to a report Wednesday (Jan 1) that warned of over-reliance on Chinese largesse.
The Deloitte consultancy study said top-tier English sides made 40 million pounds in profit from the January transfer window, the first time they have come out of the football horse-trading in the black.
The market closed on Tuesday night with Southampton swooping for Napoli's Italy forward Manolo Gabbiadini for at least £14 million while Burnley completing the reported club-record £13 million signing of Norwich winger Robbie Brady.
Deloitte said total gross spending by Premier League clubs for the 2016/17 season is now almost £1.4 billion, smashing the previous record of £1 billion last season.
The latest eye-watering outlay was "far in excess of any other league in world football", said Dan Jones of Deloitte's sports business department.
In all, the 20 Premier League clubs spent £215 million on new players during the market from January 1 until Tuesday, Deloitte said, the second-highest amount for this window since 2011.
The bottom six teams fighting for their Premier League lives - Hull City, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Swansea, reigning champions Leicester City and Middlesbrough - accounted for more than 50 percent of the January sales spending.
But the Premier League still came out in the black as a whole.
"The sales of Oscar, Dimitri Payet, Odion Ighalo and Memphis Depay, as well as around £20m worth of sales to Championship clubs, have helped Premier League clubs record net receipts for the first time in a transfer window," said Jones.
"As was the case last year, it is clubs in the bottom half of the table who have driven expenditure this January, investing in their squads in an attempt to secure survival."
The vast amounts thrown about by English sides was put into context by Germany's Bundesliga.
German clubs shattered their previous total record in splashing out 97.35 million euros in the January transfer window, easily beat the previous record of 65 million euros set during the 2014/15 season.
But that was still well short of the amount in the Premier League this winter.
This month has seen the increasingly wealthy Chinese Super League flex its financial muscles with Brazil international Oscar leaving Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in a move worth £51 million.
With Tuesday's deadline day made more complicated by the fact several Premier League clubs had important fixtures, one of the few big deals in the closing hours of the window saw more Chinese spending as Watford striker Ighalo joined Changchun Yatai for a fee reported to be around £20 million.
But Deloitte warned the days of Chinese teams splashing out on players could be coming to an end.
"The spending activity by clubs in the Chinese Super League (CSL) has grabbed many headlines in recent weeks," said Jones.
"CSL clubs have spent over £150 million so far during their current off-season, which began in November 2016.
"However, with the CFA having recently announced that tighter regulations around player transfer and salary expenditure are to be introduced, as well as imposing limits on the number of foreign players allowed, it will be interesting to see whether CSL clubs match this level of expenditure in future off-seasons."