• Uefa financial fair play restrictions to affect overall outlay
• £225m record included Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll
|Fernando Torres' £50m move from Liverpool to Chelsea headed last season's record outlay in the January transfer window.|
Transfer spending by Premier League clubs in the January window may be less than half of last season's record £225m total, according to the football finance experts Deloitte.
With the window due to open at midnight on Saturday, the forecast is that factors including Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) regulations and the negotiation of the next television deal will severely affect the overall outlay.
Dan Jones, a partner in Deloitte, said: "We would be surprised, but have been in the past of course, if gross spending was more than 2011 given that was a record year by some margin [£225m]. Neither do we expect spending to fall to anywhere near as low as the 2010 levels of £30m in January. The most likely scenario is somewhere between the 2008 and 2009 levels of circa £170m and the 2004-07 mark of around £50-£60m – ie, say £100-£140m.
"As ever total spending will be influenced by the recycling of money within a respective league – witness the flow from Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle last year."
In that window the eye-watering outlay was headed by the £50m Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres and the £35m the Anfield club passed on to Newcastle United for Andy Carroll, in an aggregate £195m up on the 2010 figure. It included deals that five times broke the record for a single player sale in January – £15m for Arsenal to acquire Andrey Arshavin in 2009. Regarding this January's market, Jones said: "While football is certainly not immune to the wider economy, it is more the smaller football economy that really matters with the following factors of relevance.
"With FFP we are now half year into the first period that will count to the first assessment – clubs will have to be carefully evaluating how transfer activity will impact on their financial results both from a transfer trading perspective but also impact on player wages and ins and outs. All other things being equal you would expect FFP to have a dampening impact.
"Then there are TV rights: the Premier League will be going to the market for the domestic rights first, and then the overseas rights in 2012, both for the 2013-14 season. So depending on how clubs view the likely size of those deals it could influence their transfer thinking. And there are exchange rates, one aspect that does feed direct from the wider economy. If the Euro weakened significantly against the pound then European players may be better value again."
Position in the league can also affect the ability of managers to sway chairmen and chief executives. Those in the title or Champions League qualification shake-up or hoping to avoid relegation may be forced to market. Jones added: "Competitors' actions are a further factor. The bottom five clubs had the highest average gross spending between 2007-09 in the January window, presumably as they sought to avoid relegation. In 2011, the bottom five spent very little – presumably due to a belief the existing squad was good enough to survive and/or lack of willingness/ability to spend on a potentially lost cause."
January transfer window total spending
2011 – £225m
2010 – £30m
2009 – £170m
2008 – £175m
2007 – £60m
2006 – £70m
2005 – £50m
2004 – £50m
2003 – £35m