Saudi Arabia role in transfer market revival in pandemic

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For a government in crisis, there is little to celebrate in the corridors of power in London. Except perhaps the financial weight of EnglandFootball clubs and their ability to spend on players. The news that Premier League spending in the last month reached 295 million pounds ($400 million) was celebrated by Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, hours after the clubs completed their final swaps of the season. .

“Good to see the Premier League recovering so strongly from the pandemic,” Huddleston tweeted, “with spending levels from the January transfer window at the second highest level ever.” Indeed, deducting the amount recovered from sales from total spending showed that Premier League clubs had the highest net spend of £180m since the January transfer window was introduced in 2003, according to a tally by the Premier League. accounting firm Deloitte.

The ability to revamp teams so significantly mid-season has shown the resilience of the world’s richest league in weathering the financial impact of the coronavirusaided by the government ending all capacity restrictions that have continued to hamper rivals in Europe.

But it is the government’s warmth towards investment from Saudi Arabia that has also contributed to the headline figure touted by Huddleston. In the first transfer window since the Premier League approved the takeover of Newcastle by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, defying pleas from human rights activists but reflecting Britain’s acceptance of the kingdom, the club from the North East accounted for £90m in player spending. And the Public Investment Fund would have splurged even more, as it chased more than the five deals it beat before Monday’s transfer cutoff.

Now, this is the team Newcastle are stuck with until May in their mission to ensure their first season with the richest owners in world football does not end in relegation. Escaping the relegation zone means only erasing Norwich’s single point lead over Newcastle with 17 games remaining. To that end, manager Eddie Howe has received three new defenders, a midfielder and a forward.

Kieran Trippier, who was part of England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Euro 2020 final, is the most star-powered recruit. It’s only a delayed start if Newcastle fall into the second tier of a club commitment to use their wealth to rival superpowers in talent in the way Manchester City rose from mediocrity to win half of the last 10 Premier Leagues. thanks to your Abu Dhabi Bank Account.

The players need little convincing now to join City, although this was a more restricted transfer window, reflecting the nine-point lead Pep Guardiola’s side enjoy at the top of the Premier League. After letting Ferran Torres join Barcelona for around $60m, City spent just a third to secure another young attacker with potential, 22-year-old Argentinian Julián Álvarez, who will play from next season.

While the most expensive individual transfer was the €60m that second-placed Liverpool undertook to sign Luis Diaz from Porto, the other top five teams Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham spent nothing.

Instead, more than half of the league’s spending was by teams in the bottom five, with an estimated outlay of £150m, according to Deloitte. The desperation to avoid relegation is reflected in Everton, who sit in 16th place and four points above the relegation zone, spending more than £50m on players plus the cost of replacing manager Rafa Benitez with Frank Lampard.

“This transfer window indicates that financial pressures from COVID on Premier League clubs are easing,” said Dan Jones, Deloitte’s head of sport, “with spending firmly back at pre-pandemic levels and notably between the highest we’ve seen in January.”

It reinforces England’s elevated status apart from its European rivals, backed by a growth in the value of international broadcast rights. The second biggest spenders in January were Serie A clubs, whose total of 175 million euros (nearly $200 million) was almost half the outlay of Premier League rivals.

Next were the La Liga clubs that spent €75m on transfers, followed by €65m for Ligue 1 in France and €60m for the Bundesliga. Calum Ross, deputy head of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, commented: “In stark contrast to January 2021, the European transfer market overall looks buoyant. Many clubs are beginning to recover from significant COVID-induced reductions, with increased revenues reviving activity within the transfer market.”

While total spending across Europe’s top five leagues rose to €735m from €460m last January, the figure was nearly €1bn in 2020 before the coronavirus spread across Europe, disrupting leagues and sources of income.

“As long as fans continue to return to stadiums and disruption to the upcoming football season remains limited,” Ross said, “we should see revenue and therefore transfer spending continue to rise in seasons to come.” .

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