Premier League spending drops to seven-year low

MILAN - Premier League clubs' transfer spending dropped to a seven-year low in the January window compared to a record high last year, as financial woes weighed on the market, according to business advisory firm Deloitte.

English clubs' spending was around 30 million pounds in the January transfer market, as much as for Italian Serie A clubs, compared to 170 million pounds last year, Deloitte said in a report after the deadline closed on Monday.

The 2010 estimate represents a new low for the top English clubs since January 2003, when it was 35 million pounds.

"The absence of new club owners and the tightening of club finances and credit availability have helped to accelerate that trend and dampen down the market," Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte, said in a statement.

Although spending by Premier League clubs have still significantly exceeded that for the top clubs in France, Germany and Spain, Italian Serie A clubs have reportedly spent around 30 million on player transfers this year, the group said.

However, financial companies can only estimate figures as many clubs choose not to disclose financial details.

Hence another report by KPMG consulting firm showed that Premier League clubs spent a total of 41.5 million pounds last month, little more than 20 percent of the estimated 190.5 million pounds spent in 2009.

Nearly one third of this amount is attributed to the fee that Manchester United have agreed for Fulham's Chris Smalling, who is expected to join them at the end of the season, KPMG said.


"The reason why it is the lowest amount spent in the modern day transfer window is because all the banks have reduced the clubs' overdrafts rather than extend them," financier Paul Miller, the former Tottenham Hotspur defender who specialises in football finances, told Reuters.

Loan deals accounted for 70 percent of Premier League's transactions, Deloitte said. Manchester City forward Robinho started his six-month loan spell at his former club Santos on Monday, while Premier League strugglers West Ham United signed South African striker Benni McCarthy on a permanent deal and Egypt striker Mido and Brazil striker Ilan on loan.

Inter Milan loaned struggling winger Mancini to AC Milan and signed Keyna midfielder McDonald Mariga from Parma on Monday, after selling midfielder Patrick Vieira to Manchester City.

Half of Europe's leading clubs are losing money with more than 20 percent facing huge losses, UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino told Reuters in an interview last month.

However, Deloitte expected Premier League clubs to keep their leading position amongst the "Top 20" highest revenue generators in the world, thanks to their worldwide fan base and new broadcasting right deals.