Premier League spending skewed by big deals

LONDON - The £225 million laid out by Premier League clubs in January surpassed all records but should not be seen as evidence of a general trend to spend, analysts said on Tuesday.

Monday's extraordinary £134 million spree on Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, David Luiz and Luis Suarez meant the January window total easily surpassed the previous record of £175 million in 2008 according to business advisory firm Deloitte.

It was also a quantum leap on last year when only £30 million changed hands to a background discussion of clubs getting their financial houses in order ahead of next year's implementation of UEFA's financial fair play rules.

The rules require clubs to live within their means by ensuring expenditure is not more than the revenue they generate through their activities.

Just over half of this year's money moved between Premier League clubs, with 47 percent going overseas and just two percent - 5 million pounds - going into England's Football League clubs, according to the Deloitte report.

The numbers, led by the £50 million Chelsea paid Liverpool for Torres and the £36 million of that which moved from Anfield to Newcastle United for Carroll, led to widespread media comment that the English game was at complete odds with so-called "austerity Britain" as just about every other sector struggles with funding cuts.

However, Deloitte stressed the figures had been somewhat skewed by the top-end moves and should not be used to read any deep and meaningful trends within the game.

"Although we were surprised to see £225 million it should be noted that around 80% of that figure was spent by four clubs (Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City) and on just six players," Alex Byars, senior consultant at Deloitte's Sports Business Group, told Reuters.

"Five of those players were strikers (Chelsea's £25 million defender Luiz from Benfica being the exception) and that's hardly a surprise as January purchases tend to be by clubs needing an instant impact.

"January does tend to be a relatively quiet window and no other club spent more than £10 million.

"Liverpool and Villa have new managers, Manchester City are adding to an already deep squad while Chelsea's outlay probably silences those who thought that (owner) Roman Abramovich was no longer interested.

"The clubs with the high turnovers are going to be the ones able to keep spending under the new financial fair play rules but for the majority of the league money remains tight."