More Money, More Problems

More Money, More Problems

The Premier League has grown to become the richest football league in the world and in doing so it has created a problem for itself. That wealth is the reason why Premier League teams are able to sign a majority of the world’s most talented and desirable players. It’s also the reason why they struggle to settle, due to clubs spending enormous amounts of money on players resulting in a huge weight being placed upon a player’s shoulders by their hefty price tag. This in turn leads to unmovable players, big contracts and squad stagnation. Therefore a query arises, just how big is the downside of having all the money in the world?

In the January 2023 window 18 out of the 20 most valuable deals were completed by English clubs. In the previous transfer period, 12 out of the top 20 deals were completed by English clubs. And as a whole during the 2022 summer window Premier League clubs combined to spend 2.2 billion Euros, almost three times that of Serie A, and over four times the amount of money spent by clubs in Ligue 1, LaLiga and Bundesliga. The Premier League’s advantage is not in question as it is a fact that at its best its wealth can create a hugely captivating and thrilling sporting spectacle, leading to fans witnessing some of the best football teams the game has seen in action. In addition, because much of the Premier League’s broadcasting contract is split evenly between the participating clubs, high quality expensive players are accessible even to newly promoted and traditional unfashionable sides. For example, after a successful season in the Championship that saw Nottingham Forest get promoted back to the Premier League, they were able to sign players the caliber of Renan Lodi on loan from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and Danilo from Brazilian side Palmeiras in addition to signing Morgan Gibbs-White from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a club record fee of 29.5 million Euros.

It’s impossible to imagine a club in a similar situation in any other country having such pulling power. The benefits to that are quite obvious. However the limitations are beginning to reveal themselves more swiftly. Being able to sign more famous players for big fees and wages is only a good thing when those deals are successful and that’s particularly true for the Premier League and particularly now. The Premier League’s broadcasting contract is worth 1.6 billion Pounds each season. That compares to the 926.5 million Pounds in the Bundesliga, 850 million Pounds for LaLiga and 796.5 million Pounds for Serie A. According to the 2023 edition of the Deloitte Football Money League which ranks football clubs according to annual revenue, 11 of the top 20 positions were occupied by English clubs. It’s a further description of the Premier League’s dominance. If viewed from another perspective it shows how few buying clubs there are outside of it. So if a Premier League side has an unwanted player or one that they wish to sell for whatever reason, where is a notable bid likely to come from? Probably from inside the league itself or from a continental super club or maybe from Saudi Arabia. That in fact is not a very long list.

Driven by an inability to compete, almost all other European clubs now exist to recruit well and sell high, rather than to offer alternate homes to players earning hundreds of thousands of Pounds per week. This creates a trap of sorts for Premier League clubs. For instance, in a hypothetical situation a new player might be signed to a long and generous contract by an English team. If that move then doesn’t succeed and clubs from outside the Premier League are unable to offer an equivalent contract then the player isn’t motivated to leave, or alternatively he might be condemned to spend the duration of his deal on loan or out of the first team. Already there are plenty of examples across the Premier League among others, Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele of Tottenham, Anthony Martial, Harry Maguire and Donny Van De Beek of Man Utd, Romelu Lukaku and recently released Tiemoue Bakayoko of Chelsea and Kalvin Phillips at Man City.

What worsens this issue is the fact that transfers are difficult. While some situations are the result of poor recruitment and bad decision making, the reality is that most deals have around a one in two chance of success. At a Statsbomb conference in 2020, Liverpool’s former director of research Dr. Ian Graham explained why this is the case. He described the six possible reasons why a transfer might fail and they are:

Ø  A player might not be as good as thought

Ø  A player doesn’t fit the style of the team he has signed for

Ø  A player being played out of their best or favorable position

Ø  The manager doesn’t like the player

Ø   Fitness/personal issues

Ø  A current player in the squad is better

Being able to afford a transfer and being able to make it work are two different things. Clawing back the cost of a bad deal is challenging on its own, especially when it means trying to sell to clubs from a completely different economic stratosphere. The consequences are potentially serious. While many Premier League clubs can afford to carry a fairly large wage bill that still puts them at the risk of financial fair play sanctions both in their domestic leagues and abroad, as happened to Juventus who were kicked out of the upcoming season’s UEFA Conference League & banned from UEFA competitions for a year and subsequently fined 17.14 million Euros for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) Rules. In certain situations it might even force limits on what they can spend, thereby limiting the influence of their wealth. That’s even without mentioning the possible degradation of players who aren’t being used and the practical and social problems that result from an unbalanced squad.

The upside of this financial domination is crystal clear, it brings the best coaches, the best players & often the finest infrastructure, the most supporters and the largest revenue. But while maybe an unaccepted downside, the Premier League’s success has also created a new danger.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Michael Otieno

    That was great and informative content

  2. Shukrani Maina

    Truly, more money, more problems

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