Five questions answered on the cost of the premier league transfer list

Football is big business

Football clubs are often criticised for their extravagant spending on the ‘beautiful game’, and as another Premier League transfer deadline passes it’s been revealed clubs spent twice as much on players this year than last. We answer five questions on the cost of this year’s Premier League transfer list.

How much money has been spent during the course of this year’s transfer window?

After closing at 11pm yesterday about a £120 million had been spent, with £35 million of that frantically spent transfer deadline day.

Net spend this year, which includes money recouped on player sales, was £70m.

How does this compare to previous years?

Well, it’s double what was spent last year, £60 million, but a drop in the ocean compared to what was spent in 2011, which was a record £225m.

Who were the biggest spenders this year?

The biggest spenders were Liverpool, QPR and Newcastle, the three combined contributing to 50% of the January total.

On average the biggest spenders are Chelsea who has spent £12.3m on average since the transfer window tradition started 10 years ago, QPR £11m, Man City £10.9m, Tottenham £9.1m, Liverpool £8.1m and West Ham £5.71m.

Chelsea holds the record for the most ever spent in a transfer window when it dished out £75 million in 2011.

Who were the most expensive players this year?

Mario Balotelli, who went from Manchester City to Milan for £17m, plus £5m add-ons, followed by Christopher Samba from Anzhi Makhachkala to QPR  for £12.5m.

What have the experts said about this year’s transfer spend?

Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte told the BBC:

Clubs have been relatively restrained in their player transfer-fee spending, in spite of the upcoming uplift in their broadcasting revenues.
Clubs are now in a reporting period that will count towards the first assessment of Uefa's financial fair play break-even requirement for international competition, and Premier League clubs are also considering the implementation of additional cost-control regulation at a domestic level.

Harry Redknapp was quoted earlier in the week saying about the transfer process:

There's not that many deals happening. If someone can muscle in on a deal… it's a bit like ice cream sellers when someone has nicked their pitch… in Glasgow! Someone's going to shoot them or something!


This transfer window, I have never seen anything like it. Every agent seems to be trying to screw one another. It's like gang warfare out there – it's scary. If you're trying to get a player another agent will try to scupper that deal if he's not involved in it, to try to get you to have one of his. It's unreal, unbelievable. They're all fighting for big money – that's the problem.


Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images
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I'm far from convinced by Cameron's plans for Syria

The Prime Minister has a plan for when the bombs drop. But what about after?

In the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister set out a powerful case for Britain to join air strikes against Isil in Syria.  Isil, he argued, poses a direct threat to Britain and its people, and Britain should not be in the business of “outsourcing our security to our allies”. And while he conceded that further airstrikes alone would not be sufficient to beat Isil, he made the case for an “Isil first” strategy – attacking Isil now, while continuing to do what we can diplomatically to help secure a lasting settlement for Syria in which Assad (eventually) plays no part.

I agreed with much of David Cameron’s analysis. And no-one should doubt either the murderous barbarism of Isil in the region, or the barbarism they foment and inspire in others across the world.  But at the end of his lengthy Q&A session with MPs, I remained unconvinced that UK involvement in airstrikes in Syria was the right option. Because the case for action has to be a case for action that has a chance of succeeding.  And David Cameron’s case contained neither a plan for winning the war, nor a plan for winning the peace.

The Prime Minister, along with military experts and analysts across the world, concedes that air strikes alone will not defeat Isil, and that (as in Iraq) ground forces are essential if we want to rid Syria of Isil. But what is the plan to assemble these ground forces so necessary for a successful mission?  David Cameron’s answer today was more a hope than a plan. He referred to “70,000 Syrian opposition fighters - principally the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – with whom we can co-ordinate attacks on Isil”.

But it is an illusion to think that these fighters can provide the ground forces needed to complement aerial bombardment of Isil.  Many commentators have begun to doubt whether the FSA continues to exist as a coherent operational entity over the past few months. Coralling the myriad rebel groups into a disciplined force capable of fighting and occupying Isil territory is a heroic ambition, not a plan. And previous efforts to mobilize the rebels against Isil have been utter failures. Last month the Americans abandoned a $500m programme to train and turn 5,400 rebel fighters into a disciplined force to fight Isil. They succeeded in training just 60 fighters. And there have been incidents of American-trained fighters giving some of their US-provided equipment to the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.

Why has it proven so hard to co-opt rebel forces in the fight against Isil? Because most of the various rebel groups are fighting a war against Assad, not against Isil.  Syria’s civil war is gruesome and complex, but it is fundamentally a Civil War between Assad’s forces and a variety of opponents of Assad’s regime. It would be a mistake for Britain to base a case for military action against Isil on the hope that thousands of disparate rebel forces can be persuaded to change their enemy – especially when the evidence so far is that they won’t.

This is a plan for military action that, at present, looks highly unlikely to succeed.  But what of the plan for peace? David Cameron today argued for the separation of the immediate task at hand - to strike against Isil in Syria – from the longer-term ambition of achieving a settlement in Syria and removing Assad.  But for Isil to be beaten, the two cannot be separated. Because it is only by making progress in developing a credible and internationally-backed plan for a post-Assad Syria that we will persuade Syrian Sunnis that fighting Isil will not end up helping Assad win the Civil War.  If we want not only to rely on rebel Sunnis to provide ground troops against Isil, but also provide stable governance in Isil-occupied areas when the bombing stops, progress on a settlement to Syria’s Civil War is more not less urgent.  Without it, the reluctance of Syrian Sunnis to think that our fight is their fight will undermine the chances of military efforts to beat Isil and bring basic order to the regions they control. 

This points us towards doubling down on the progress that has already been made in Vienna: working with the USA, France, Syria’s neighbours and the Gulf states, as well as Russia and Iran. We need not just a combined approach to ending the conflict, but the prospect of a post-war Syria that offers a place for those whose cooperation we seek to defeat Isil. No doubt this will strike some as insufficient in the face of the horrors perpetrated by Isil. But I fear that if we want not just to take action against Isil but to defeat them and prevent their return, it offers a better chance of succeeding than David Cameron’s proposal today. 

Stewart Wood is a former Shadow Cabinet minister and adviser to Ed Miliband. He tweets as @StewartWood.