Manchester City’s title defense has so far not been going according to plan. They were already falling behind a perfect Liverpool squad before suffering a second shock second defeat of the season at home to Wolves. City are 8 points behind Liverpool after 8 matches. This was the defending champions first home defeat since losing to Crystal Palace last December.
Pep Guardiola must be concerned. After their other surprise reverse 3-2 against Norwich City last month, City appeared back on track. They replied with a 8-0 thrashing of Watford, and then a 3-1 victory at Everton, albeit not a convincing win at times.
They have dropped five points from their opening four home games so far this season, having lost only three points at the Etihad for the whole of least season.
City Injury Problems Root Cause of Defeats
The champions were not quite as fluid as they normally are against Wolves. They clearly missed the creative spark of the injured Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane. While KdB has been working through dings for the past year, Sane is not expected back until February, having suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in the Community Shield against Liverpool.
Yet many would have few sympathies with City over mounting injuries, as the team still boasted David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan alongside Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez on either flank, with Sergio Aguero up front.
It has been defensively where City have struggled, especially after losing their first choice centre-back pairing of John Stones, and in particular Aymeric Laporte.
The loss of Vincent Kompany, despite his poor injury record in his last few seasons with the club, has still been keenly felt with no one really to replace his awesome presence in the team.
Laporte is set for a long absence from first team action due to a knee injury. His coolness in building from the back, alongside his defensive solidity has been sorely missed.
As for Stones, the jury is still out on the 25-year old who endured a disappointing end to last season where he was often left out of the first XI in favour of Kompany. He only started three of City’s last 19 games in all competitions last season.
To make matters worse, he made a glaring error for England in their UEFA Nations League semifinal against Holland back in June.
Fernandinho has now been pushed into the back four to form a centre-half partnership with Nicolas Otamendi. However, this has not been able to stem the tide of the amount of chances that are now being created against them, a far cry from the defensive strength of last season.
City conceded just 23 goals all of last season, with only 12 being conceded at home. This season opponents have already found the net against them nine times after eight games.
Premier League statistics reveal that City have lost none of their verve and swagger so far this season, scoring 3.38 goals per game in comparison to 2.50 goals per match for the whole of last season. They scored 2.79 goals per game during the title winning campaign of 2017/18.
The passing completion rate of 89% is the same figure as for 2018/19. In contrast, they have conceded 1.13 goals per game in this campaign, an increase from 0.61 last season.
Are City just unlucky?
Underlying advanced data like xG and xPTS suggest there will be regression upward for City.
City are under-performing their xPTS while Liverpool are massively surpassing theirs. These things tend to even out over the course of a long season.
Regardless, City Lose Title Race Ground
If last season’s chase to win the Premier League is anything to go by, City are in trouble. Liverpool only lost one game, and City only captured the EPL by one point.
Liverpool will be looking to capitalize on the injuries City have to deal with to extend their lead even further. Their match against Manchester United this weekend is critical. The Red Devils are keen to become the first team to take points off the Merseysiders this season.
Guardiola’s side also face a tough test this week with the trip to Crystal Palace. The Eagles have been in fine form so far this season, sitting in sixth place and winning four matches. For whatever reasons, they’ve given City issues in recent seasons.
For the first time in almost a year, City are not favorites to win the Premier League. A win against Palace (they’re -400 to do so) is a must if they’re to keep pace.
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Ajax are celebrating an upturn in its financial fortunes. Will this translate to sustained success on the pitch?
The Dutch giants are currently atop their UEFA Champions League group as well as the Eredivisie. While losing their two top prospects from last season–Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt–they’ve kept their remaining core of talent.
Ajax is renown for developing talent. They may now be in a position to actually keep that talent and buy reinforcements.
Ajax’s improving financial position
Ajax recently announced that turnover has more than doubled in the 2018/19 season, mainly due to their memorable run to the UCL semifinals.
The figures from the Dutch giants revealed that gross revenue up to June 30 climbed to €199.5 million, a year-on-year rise from €93 million.
|Income Source||Income Total|
|UEFA Champions League Run||€77.9M|
|Commercial Revenue||€34.3 million|
|Ticketing from UCL||€15.3 million|
Alongside the run in the Champions League, which included unforgettable victories over Juventus and Real Madrid, Ajax won a domestic league and cup double, making last season the successful for the club so far this century.
Payments that were received from UEFA spiraled by €76.8 million up to €77.9 million.
The run to the last four of Europe’s most prestigious competition resulted in additional ticketing revenue of €15.3 million.
Ajax also set a new record for average attendances at the Johan Cruyff Arena of 52,258.
Additionally commercial revenue received a boost, with a hike up to €34.3 million, a growth rate of 14.7%.
Ajax to challenge for European glory?
Yet even with this financial boost, are Ajax now in a better position to challenge for the Champions League again this year?
If so, it would be the Amsterdam club’s fifth European Cup or Champions League triumph. This includes a hat trick of victories in 1971, 1972 and 1973, in an era inspired by Rinus Michels’ “Total Football”.
Its an achievement that has only been matched by Real Madrid (twice) and Bayern Munich.
Despite the rise in turnover to €199 million, it falls way behind the richest clubs in Europe, with Real Madrid leading the table with revenue of €750 million.
Los Blancos’ great rivals, Barcelona, were in second creating a €690 million, while Manchester United reached an appropriate €666 million.
In fact, Ajax’s new found wealth from last season only eclipsed West Ham’s income of €197.9 million in the top twenty most affluent clubs.
If money keeps coming in, Ajax has the infrastructure to dominate
Ajax have long been lauded for the conveyer belt of talent that its youth academy infrastructure has produced.
Historically there have been periods where Ajax have pulled off huge success, reaping the rewards from nurturing young players, only for them to be sold off to Europe’s most wealthiest clubs.
In 1995 after Louis Van Gaal masterminded the club’s last European Cup win, the most sought after players soon found new pastures.
Edger Davids and Edwin Van De Sar eventually left for Juventus. Clarence Seedorf left for Real Madrid and then to AC Milan, where he won three more Champions League titles.
The De Boer brothers Ronald and Frank departed for Barcelona. They were joined by Patrick Kluivert, who scored the winning goal coming on as a substitute in that 1-0 win over AC Milan in Vienna.
History has repeated itself this summer, as Frankie De Jong has also left for Barcelona. Former club captain Matthijs De Light set his sights on Italy, moving to Juventus.
Kasper Dolberg went to join Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s revolution at Nice, where he will play under the leadership of Patrick Viera.
Ajax have though managed to keep hold of several leading lights from the squad last season, and have signed forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres on new long term contracts.
Talented midfielder Donny van de Beek remains at the club despite reported interest from Real Madrid, and has said that he will not leave the club in the January transfer window.
The squad has also been boosted by several arrivals this summer, including Quincy Promes from Sevilla for €15.6 million, and centre-back Edson Alveraz from Mexican side Club America for €15 million.
In keeping with the club’s tradition, 23-year-old prospect Razvan Marin was also signed from Standard Liege, who has acquired the nickname the “Romanian Xavi”.
In total the club made a transfer surplus of €148.4 million.
Dr Rob Wilson, head of department for finance, accounting and business systems at Sheffield Hallam University, and commentator on football finance issues, said: “There is the potential to reinvest in the playing squad. That’s where the impact will be most keenly felt, particularly with the summer departures.”
“Next they continue to reinvest into the academy structure to maintain their excellent track record of producing talent.”
He added: “I think that it’s fair to say that Ajax overachieved recently given their modest budget. We have to remember than most of the major clubs in Europe, the top six to eight clubs at least, have significantly larger revenue budgets.”
“Prize money is one small component, with broadcasting and commercial revenues much larger elsewhere.”
“It will certainly help them be competitive but they need to retain talent to maintain their level of playing performance. This revenue may be a one-off so shouldn’t be budgeted for on an ongoing basis.”
Financial Odds Stacked Against Ajax
Ajax’s main rivals to win the Champions League includes a robust challenge from English clubs. Manchester City will be looking to win their first European Cup, and have strengthened in the close season signing Rodri and Joao Cancelo.
Liverpool will also be strong contenders, and have proved in reaching the last two finals that they are so difficult to beat over two legs.
Barcelona will be looking to avoid the collapses against Roma and Liverpool over the past two seasons, and have also added Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid.
Juventus will also be looking to rectify their poor record in the competition in recent years, where they have lost their last five finals.
The Turin club have built a considerable squad, with the free transfers of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot to add to the purchase of De Ligt.
Although data from KPMG’s Football Benchmark report, highlights just how increasingly difficult it is becoming for teams who are not from the big five leagues of England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France in succeeding in the Champions League.
In the past five seasons, Ajax are the only club from one of the smaller leagues to make it into the semifinals.
Only four teams have made it to the last eight from outside of the big five divisions, and just 16, or 20% of teams, have reached the last 16. The figures show just how many sides fall at the hurdles in trying to reach the final.
It’s a set of circumstances that can be argued to perpetuate the financial dominance of the big five leagues.
The latest UEFA club competition cycle between 2018 and 2021 ensures that the Champions League winner receives €82.5 million.
A starting fee of €15.25 million is rewarded, with €2.7 million for each win at the group stage.
If a team progresses into the quarterfinals the remuneration will be €10.5 billion, with a further €12 million to reach the semifinals. Progress to the final will result in a payment of €15 million, plus a further €4 million if you win the final and lift the trophy.
In an attempt to re-balance the proceeds from European competition, UEFA have designed a new revenue distribution cycle.
It now comprises of a four pillar system, with a coefficient rating system implemented for over the past five seasons, alongside starting fees, a market pool and a performance related bonus.
Yet many, KPMG included, believes that a coefficient system will also lead to more reward for the biggest clubs.
Although that might not hurt Ajax too much as last year‘s semifinalists, they will have to defeat the financial probabilities if they are going to
become European champions for the fifth time.
Premier League clubs will be watching on anxiously over the outcome of the UK’s impending exit from the European Union (EU). As like with any industry, the terms and conditions of leaving the trade bloc could have far reaching knock on effects.
The plan currently is that the UK will finally leave the EU by October 31st this year, but deadlines have been set before and not met.
As the situation stands, there is no agreement between the UK and the EU on how Brexit will be handled, leaving an lingering uncertainty on what the future trade relationship will be between the two parties.
Consequently, if there is a more restrictive Brexit that is put into place or a “no deal”, EU players’ current status, work permit and future player registration conditions, could be starkly different.
For example, if there was a new non EU immigration points based system that was implemented, that would include footballers.
How the ‘Bosman Ruling’ is interpreted in the outcome of Brexit is another potentially major development.
The ruling in 1995 that a player was free to leave a club without a transfer fee once a contract had expired, was passed by the European Court of Justice.
Work permit conditions based on many circumstances
Players from EU member state countries have been allowed to ply their trade across the bloc, due to the freedom of movement principle enshrined in the constitution of the EU.
Article 45 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, allows EU citizens to work without permits in other countries with equal rights.
Currently, and as a gauge of how player transfers might be enacted in the future for those EU based , non-EU players have to apply for a Governing Body Endorsement from the Football Association (FA). It can be secured once they have a club to act as a sponsor.
A player’s eligibility for a work permit is also decided on a series of factors that includes the number of international caps that have been earned, two years prior to the application of the permit, and additionally the FIFA ranking of the national team a player appears for.
If a national team is ranked between one and ten in the world, a player would have to have played in 30% of his or her national team games.
Whereas if the national team was ranked between 31 and 50 in the world, then a player would have to perform in 75% of the matches.
Should a player fall short of the criteria, then the work permit application will be referred to an “Exceptions Panel”.
The other issues that are considered by the panel include a player’s transfer fee, salary agreements and recent playing history.
Premier League and the Football Association set for collision course
Reports have suggested that there is a growing battle between the Premier League and the FA, over the quotas of home-grown players.
The FA are thought to be keen to use Brexit as leverage to limit the amount of overseas players in Premier League squads to 12, down from the current limit of 17.
A Spokesperson said: “We are continuing to work with the Premier League, the English Football League, and a range of government departments, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Home Office and the Treasury during this consultation period.”
Premier League rules state that a home-grown player has to be registered with a club, for three seasons before the player turns 21.
It’s a law that extends to foreign players if they moved to an English club as a youngster, Paul Pogba would qualify as he spent his formative years at Manchester United, before his £90 million move back to Old Trafford from Juventus three years ago.
Yet the Premier League’s interim chief executive Richard Masters, has voiced his opposition to the reduction of overseas talent, saying that Premier League clubs want the full access to the most able players in the wake of Brexit.
At the time the Bosman Ruling was announced, and the three foreign player limit was discarded, players from the UK and Ireland accounted for around 85% of Premier League footballers.
The number have since then dramatically plummeted to around 40%, in the 2015/16 season.
Team members arriving from the rest of the EU in turn escalated rapidly, also reaching a total of 40% of Premier League players, an significant increase of around 30% after the Bosman verdict.
While players from the rest of the world peaked at just under 25% of players ten years ago, but there has been a steady decline since to around 20%.
In a future scenario study, FiveThirtyEight also found that if the status quo remained and if EU nationals could play in the Premier League with few or no hurdles, there would little deviation from the current player nationality ratios.
If as expected, freedom of movements comes to an end with Brexit, then a different story is told.
The proportion of EU players in the Premier League considerably falls to 20% in the 2028/29 season.
In contrast, the volume of players from the UK and Ireland spirals to 64% of the total number of players.
Premier League clubs’ wealth and competitiveness under threat
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, clubs have been able to attract the world’s best players paying exorbitant salaries, due to the strength of its wealth creation powers.
The latest broadcasting rights deal reached around £5 billion to show live matches over the next three years, with the rights divided between Sky TV, BT and Amazon Prime.
Overseas rights to Premier League games have driven the total to £9,2 billion overall, staggeringly it’s a competition that is shown in 189 countries.
If a “hard” Brexit occurs, and if players from EU countries are subject to the same conditions as non-EU players, it could make it a much harder environment for Premier League clubs to trade.
In theory a Premier League that does not boast the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Christian Eriksen and Virgil Van Dijk, could result in the league being more of a turn off to its global audience.
Teams could also not be as competitive in the Champions |League, if EU based players see a less restrictive La Liga or Serie A as a better destination than England, especially with the dwindling value of the pound.
Yet Premier League clubs are not showing any signs that they are intimidated by Brexit, in how they are spending.
In 2016 there was just under 1.8 billion euros in transfer outlays, which rose to 2.15 billion last year, but did slightly decline to 1.9 billion euros this year.
Premier League in talks with authorities
Now the Premier League is in talks with the government and stakeholders in response to what happens next. And the UK government will also have to reflect, on how to treat an organisation that generates £3.3 billion for the British treasury in taxes annually.
A public statement last year read: “Like many other organisations dependent on a combination of domestic and international talent, we are waiting to better understand what the political and regulatory landscape will be after the UK leaves the European Union.”
“Access to talented footballers from across Europe has played a key part in the growth of the Premier League, with match attendance and global interest increasing significantly as high quality foreign players have taken their place in the competition with and against the best British and Irish players.”
“We have held positive discussions with Government about the importance of access to European players for our clubs, and the many cultural and economic benefits a globally popular Premier League brings to the UK.”
Brexit has so far caused an almost unprecedented mess in British politics, leaving a nation divided over its outcome.
As a result the Premier League may have longer than past Halloween to negotiate with the UK government, and clarify its position post EU membership, for its kick offs of the future.
Leicester City now sit proudly in third place in the Premier League after their 5-0 demolition of Newcastle last weekend. Now they can claim to have a chance of achieving something special by finishing in the top four and earning UEFA Champions League qualification.
The Foxes will face no bigger test of their top four credentials than away to Liverpool on Saturday, who have flown out of the traps this season with a 100% record in their opening seven games.
It will be difficult to surpass the miracle title victory of three years ago, when as 5000/1 outsiders Leicester shocked the world to win their maiden top flight championship, but this season feels like the first time that the club has really built on that triumph.
The current side is young and exciting, with a brand of football that has changed under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers, a team that is now comfortable playing attractive football bringing the ball out from the back, and pressing opponents relentlessly that has made them defensively strong and difficult to beat.
Vardy and Maddison Key to City’s Rise
Also, the goals of Jamie Vardy have been instrumental in Leicester’s climb into the top three of the Premier League.
The 32-year-old striker has found the back of the net five times so far this season, and has flourished playing under Rodgers scoring an impressive 14 times in 17 games.
The defensive pairing of Turkish international Caglar Soyuncu and the experienced Jonny Evans has thrived after the £80 million departure of Harry Maguire to Manchester United, when many Leicester fans thought that Rodgers should have replaced Maguire when the summer transfer window was open.
Since the departure of Maguire, it has allowed Evans to play in his favored position of being on the left hand side of the centre-back partnership, a major reason for his authoritative displays this season.
James Maddison has picked up from where he left off last season, and has looked even more effective in his playmaking role. In particular he was outstanding in the second half of the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, a game that Leicester were unlucky not to win, and scored an superb winner to in the victory over Tottenham last month.
Its is no wonder that he has caught the attention of some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, according to recent reports Manchester United are preparing an £80 million bid for him to join Maguire at Old Trafford.
Transfer Market Decisions Now Working For Leicester
Maddison is one of many recent examples of how recruitment has improved since the aftermath of that title victory, where £45 million was squandered on Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani in the summer of 2016.
There have been other disappointments in the transfer market, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Adrien Silva failing to have any real impact following their moves from Manchester City and Sporting Lisbon respectively, with the latter now on loan to Monaco.
Last Summer Evans arrived at the same time as Maddison for a bargain fee of £3.8 million from West Brom, alongside Soyuncu after his £19 million move from SC Freiburg.
Ricardo Pereira is now impressing in the right back position after he arrived for just under £20 million from Porto also a year ago, and scored a wonder goal to open Leicester’s account against Newcastle.
Youri Tielemans is another exciting signing, and while a £40 million club record summer signing from Monaco he can be considered to be a relative steal. The Belgian was superb in his loan spell from the principality in the second half of last season, and possesses great ability unlocking defenses with his incisive passing.
Tielemans is developing a potentially great midfield partnership with Wilifred Ndidi, who screens the back four superbly, and for another economical price of £15 million from Genk in January 2017, proving to be the last act of genius from Claudio Ranieri, before the title winning manager was astonishingly sacked.
Leicester will now be looking for Ayoze Perez to pick up after his summer move from Newcastle, as so far the winger has had a quiet start.
A recent study conducted by the CIES Football Observatory found that Leicester now have the 19th most expensive squad across the top five leagues of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue One.
Rodgers a Huge Coup
The impact of Brendan Rodgers since his appointment in February this year has been staggering, since his entrance the East Midlanders have accumulated 31 points, only Manchester City and Liverpool have won more.
Rodgers’ charismatic, nurturing but authoritative style of management is the perfect remedy to the recent tenures of Craig Shakespare and Claude Puel, where Chelsea like player power appeared to force their departures.
The Ulsterman will be looking at add to his trophy laden spell at Celtic, where he won two Scottish titles and Scottish Cups, plus three Scottish League Cups, including a back to back domestic treble.
Rodgers will now be looking to build on Leicester’s notable start to the season at his former club on Saturday.
There remains more questions than answers over the direction of Tottenham Hotspur’s season after their 2-1 defeat away to Leicester City on Saturday. Spurs current run of form is a far cry from the high of reaching their first ever Champions League final only back in May.
That crazy night in Amsterdam, where Lucas Moura’s dramatic second half hat trick to beat Ajax on away goals will live long in the memory, is a world apart from Tottenham’s away form in the Premier League, where they have failed to win on their travels since January 20, overcoming then relegation fodder Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Why is Tottenham struggling?
One of the main reasons Spurs have struggled lately is their inability to hold onto a lead.
Against Leicester, Harry Kane had given Tottenham the upper hand in the first half with his fourth goal of the season, before goals from Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison turned the game around for the Foxes.
This result came only days after Tottenham had thrown away a two goal led away at Olympiakos in their Champions League group B opener, where they displayed a lack of composure and control in the game, and were often guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at a level where such carelessness is ruthlessly punished.
This left manager Mauricio Pochettino frustrated, accusing his players of not respecting his game plan.
Yet what will hurt Tottenham supporters the most is how they surrendered a 2-0 lead at fierce rivals Arsenal, allowing the Gunners to claw their way back in the game to rescue a point.
Tottenham too soft to be contenders?
Going into this season, an argument could have been made that the north Londoners were a decent outside bet to win the Premier League. Some though Spurs were more than capable of challenging Manchester City and Liverpool. Tottenham so far have looked way short of being title contenders.
The White Hart Lane side have all too often shown a softness throughout their side, and after Saturday’s result many of the Tottenham faithful have called into the question the apparent lack of character in the side.
Defensive midfielder Eric Dier has yet to play a single minute of football so far this season. However, even though his form was highly criticized last season, his abilities in putting out the fires screening the back four may be in need if Tottenham are going to hold onto an advantage in a game.
Eriksen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Pochettino futures in doubt
Yet there are looming wider questions over the Tottenham squad. Christian Eriksen is out of contract next summers, as is Spurs’ defensive partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. All three can talk to any club over a transfer from January.
Last summer, the club showed its intent by breaking its transfer fee record by splashing out £54 million on Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, alongside the arrival of Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham for £24 million, and Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis on a year long loan deal with an option to buy once that agreement has expired.
Overall, the net spend was just over £70 million following the departures of Kieran Trippier for £20 million to Atletico Madrid, and Vincent Janssen, who left for Monterrey for just over £8 million.
It remains to be seen whether the club’s new White Hart Lane stadium will allow more aggressive spending in the future, competing with the likes of champions Manchester City.
Last Friday the club released its figures for the refinancing of the debt for the stadium, with £525 million being raised through the sale of bonds, which were described as being “significantly oversubscribed”, these are debts that will take thirty years to mature
A further £112 million loan will be provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with HSBC providing an additional revolving facility.
Pochettino will be hoping that the highly impressive new arena will create the necessary revenue streams to supply the investment to advance his squad further. However, how long he will stay at the club perhaps is uncertain, he said himself he may have left if he had led Tottenham to its first ever European Cup triumph.
The Argentinean certainly has his admirers elsewhere, and has been linked to the Manchester United job, and recent reports have suggested that he is on Real Madrid’s wish list, and could be an alternative to Zinedine Zidane, who has become under fire soon into his second spell as manager at the Bernabeu.
Despite all the good work that has been done during Pochettino’s reign, a major trophy still eludes him and the club since its League Cup victory eleven years ago, they will need to start hanging onto goal leads if that trend is to be reversed.
Clubs across the big five European leagues in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France are continuing to splash the cash. A study by the CIES Football Observatory found that there was an uptick in transfer fee inflation in 2019 of 31% year on year.
The hike in transfer deal prices was the largest recorded since the 32% increase that was uncovered between 2014 and 2015. The observatory has been analyzing transfer fees since 2011, and has established that prices have spiraled by a staggering 181% since its investigations began.
A record level of spending was found for throughout this year, reaching 6.6 billion euros, with 5.78 billion euros being spent this summer, plus a further 835 million euros in the January transfer window, eclipsing the 6.06 billion euros in 2017 that was paid out for new players.
Premier League clubs lavishly spend
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Premier League were found to be the biggest spenders, with an outlay of 1.9 billion euros, even though figure represented a decline from the 2.2 billion euros that was spent last year.
In contrast, in three of the five leagues there was year on year spending records.
La Liga spending crept just past the 1.5 billion euro mark, an increase of just over 200 million euros, while Serie A also hit 1.5 billion euros with an increase of 333 million disbursed year on year. Inter Milan’s club record 80 million euro purchase of Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United escalating Italian clubs’ expenditure.
In the Bundesliga, transfer fee spending reached 880 million euros, a rise of 184 million euros from 2018, outstripping the 2017 record of 797 million euros being spent on team improvements.
Television rights fuel transfer inflation
The revenue created by broadcasting rights packages is undoubtedly a major reason why so much money is being sanctioned for player transfers.
Sky TV, BT have been joined by online streaming service Amazon in buying coverage packages for Premier League matches during 2019-22 that total around £5 billion. Sky TV secured four of the seven packages available for just under £3.6 billion to show 128 live matches per season.
Yet the current agreed is deal is down from the £5.14 billion paid for televised games between 2015 and 2019.
Overseas companies have parted with an extra £4.2 billion to broadcast Premier League matches, resulting in all coverage packages totaling a stunning £9,2 billion.
La Liga has also been boosted by the deal brokered with Telefonica, who paid 3.4 billion euros to air the bulk of matches in a three season deal beginning this year.
Mark Littlewood, the director general of London based free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, reflected: “A one off large increase in spending does mean this is a trend, a few big signings can account for that, we will not necessarily see this happening year on year.”
“I don’t believe that football finances across the five leagues is tapped out, and its still a growing industry.”
“Yes at some point the TV and merchandising markets will become saturated, but I still think that the top clubs will become more affluent over the next five to ten years.”
He added: “As for salaries in the Premier League they are now catching up with premium US sport salaries paid to NFL or basketball players. If you look back 25 years ago there was a considerable gap to what a European footballer was being paid in comparison.The Premier League has a wider audience in contrast to the NFL, and has more of a global footprint.”
“Often the amount of money that is spent is translated to how many points that you earn over a season, someone like Wilfried Zaha could be worth five extra points that may result in Champions League qualification, and the tens of millions in revenue that arrive from Champions League football.”
Premier League clubs in the transfer red
The vast amounts of wealth that Premier League clubs have been allowed to accumulate has led to a greater appetite for speculation on players, which is why the report revealed that English top flight clubs since 2011 have a negative transfer fee balance of just under 6.5 billion euros.
The largest deficit was found last year with transfer balance of 1.2 billion euros in the red.
Serie A follows the Premier League with a transfer deficit of a considerably less 1.2 billion euros over eight years, while Ligue One was the only one of the leagues to reach a surplus ,which amounted to 359 million euros.
“Its an eye watering amount of money which is involved, but that does not mean that the market is malfunctioning.” Littlewood continued.
“It was also found that after Manchester City has spent £57 million on Aymeric Laporte, that they spent more on their defence than the defence budget of 52 nations, this was according to research by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.”
“Although this is wholly sustainable from City’s point of view, due to their capacity to create wealth.”
“Premier League clubs are not cruising to financial crises, if revenue was to fall then even the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool would cut salaries, and sell players such as Virgil Van Dijk.”
Overall during 2011 to 2019 just under 35% of the transfer fees paid were received by other clubs in the top five leagues, with just over 31% remaining in the same league.
More positively, lower division clubs received a portion of the outlays, with 8.1% of transfer expenditure welcomed by lower division clubs in the same country, with a further 1.4% finding its way to smaller clubs in other big five leagues, revealing that there is some trickle down benefit from the huge sums involved.
Clubs are stretching themselves say observatory
The CIES Football Observatory concluded its report by opining that due to clubs increasingly spreading transfer payments out over years, many clubs are now finding the themselves at their financial limits.
In a speculative environment, with the profits made from selling players incorporated into clubs’ financial models, clubs are risking their independence and competitiveness.
This begs the question whether the transfer market needs to be calmed, and how effective the break even Financial Fair Play ruling actually is.
Although Mark Littlewood is not too concerned over the report’s thoughts, he concluded: “I am not sure that you need to do anything, financial stability of clubs is not the same as financial fair play. If I was a multi billionaire, why is it unfair to place a billion in the transfer kitty?”
“The point is that is a club spending sustainably, I would have more worries over clubs in hock to owners who are borrowing and spending more than their means.”
“The transfer deficits are broadly in proportion of health in the leagues, wealthier leagues are running deficits compared to poorer leagues which are running surpluses, this is not abnormal.”
A study compiled by the Geneva based CIES Football Observatory of the five biggest leagues in Europe has found that Manchester City’s current squad is worth over a billion euros, a figure that has never been reached before in soccer history.
The Premier League champions have spent lavishly since the 2008 takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, which is spearheaded by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. And now they have a first team squad with a combined cost €1.014 billion.
Paris St Germain came second in the survey, with a squad that cost €913 million to assemble. The arrival of Neymar two years ago for a world record fee of €225 million would account for a large slice of the cost of the first team.
Real Madrid were next in third place, with the 13-time European champions having splashed out €902 million.
Manchester United then followed in fourth position in the analysis, having spent €751 million.
The combined €3.6+ billion spent by City, PSG and Man U have accounted for zero Champions League trophies.
Premier League clubs have greater spending power
Overall, the study revealed that there were nine Premier League clubs in the top 21 most expensive squads, in comparison to four clubs from Spain and Italy.
The average outlay to piece a squad together in the Premier League was €345 million, dwarfing the €167 million average both in Serie A and La Liga, while in the Bundesliga the average cost was €124 million.
Ligue 1 was the cheapest division the research found, with an average squad expenditure of €118 million.
Dr. Raffaele Poli of the obsevatory, reflected: “Of course it is the value of the broadcasting rights that the Premier League commands which explains its strong performance. It is the most viewed competition in the world and generates mass income.”
“Also the income from television is more evenly distributed compared to other top European leagues, so more middle and lower ranking clubs have greater financial power.”
Results from the study would prove this point, as the widest gap between the costliest and cheapest squad was found in Spain, where Real Madrid have spent 148 times more than Mallorca. In contrast the amount that Manchester City had paid compared to Norwich, who have the least most expensive Premier League squad, was 32 times more.
“The transfer fees paid by PSG are related more to the owners of the club Qatar Sports Investments. Real Madrid though is different as its one of the biggest clubs in the world with huge commercial endorsements, and they take a huge split from the television rights of La Liga, even though the split is more even now compared to what it used to be.” Dr Poli continued.
“Barcelona could be at the level of Madrid, as they have invested a lot in recent years, but they also have many home grown players including Messi and Busquets. If Coutinho was in the still in their squad, that would have pushed the cost of the squad up to around 840 million euros, ahead of Juventus and Manchester United.”
“There is some pressure on Juventus, as they have spent big on players like Cristiano Ronaldo, but failed to sell Dybala, they are in danger of making a loss which is not the case for the biggest clubs in England and Spain. Although in Italy both the Milan clubs may spend more in the future.”
Poli expects the current trends to continue in the short to medium term future for the biggest English teams, and also believes that the financial divide between the richest and poorest teams will continue. and clubs with the most financial muscle will carry on investing large amounts on transfer fees.
City investment brings success at home
So far the investment from Abu Dhabi United Group has paid off domestically, winning the Premier League four times, alongside four triumphs in the League Cup, and two victories in the FA Cup.
Yet despite the huge outlays on transfer fees, the title of European Champions has so far eluded them.
The closest that they have came to winning the Champions League came three years ago, when they were knocked out at the semifinal stage by eventual winners Real Madrid, after a 1-0 second leg defeat at the Bernabeu.
In the past two seasons City have been ironically been beaten by English opposition in the last eight, by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
How City got to a billion
It would come as no surprise that the top 49 most expensive players to ever play for the club have arrived in the past eleven years.
The signing of Kevin De Bruyne remains City’s record transfer fee, after splashing out €76.7 million in 2015 capturing him from Wolfsburg.
City nearly matched that fee this summer with the €70.6 million purchase of midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid, as they look to replace Fernandinho’s aging legs.
Riyad Mahrez’s €68.4 million euro move from Leicester City last year was the sky blues’ third most expensive signing. This is followed by City’s second major summer signing Joao Cancelo, where €65.6 million was paid to Juventus for his services.
Financial Fair Play ruling places shadow over City
It was alleged by German newspaper De Spiegal in leaked documents that City had mislead UEFA over not revealing that money had been directed into the club through sponsors who are linked to Abu Dhabi United Group owner Sheikh Mansour.
In effect this would inflate the commercial revenue of the club artificially, in helping the club meet Uefa’s break even Financial Fair Play laws.
The ruling states that clubs can spend only what they earn, but are allowed to splurge 5 million euros over a three year assessment limit, yet they can also spend a further 30 million over their incomes, as long this can be covered by a club owner or related party.
Recent reports have suggested that City will have to wait until the end of the season until their fate is decided, where if they are found guilty of breaching UEFA rules, they could face a Champions League ban. This could paradoxically have a adverse effect on their ability to attract the best players, and spending their next billion euros.
Who: Norwich City vs Manchester City
When: Saturday, September 14th @ 12:30 pm ET
Line: Norwich +1500 | Draw +750 | Manchester City -670
The champions are currently two points adrift of their main rivals, and will look to build on their 4-0 demolition of Brighton two weeks ago before the international break.
City are seeking their fifth Premier League title in nine seasons.
Norwich vs Manchester City Match Preview
So far, City have been in red hot form scoring 14 goals in the opening four matches of the campaign. Sergio Aguero leads the EPL with six goals. Teammate Raheem Sterling has five, as does Norwich front-man Teemu Pukki.v
After a thumping 5-0 win on the opening day of the Premier League season at West Ham, and a convincing 3-1 victory away at Bournemouth, City have dropped only two points so far this season.
And they can consider themselves unlucky they re not level on points with Liverpool, who have a 100% record, as VAR overruled what appeared to be a late winner in the pulsating 2-2 draw against Tottenham at the Etihad.
Gabriel Jesus believed he had scored in injury time, only for the goal to be disallowed as it was ruled that in the build up Aymeric Laporte had handled the ball, in what was a controversial decision.
Overall, City have averaged 3.5 goals in Premier League games, with a shooting accuracy of 39% with 30 shots on target from 77 attempts.
Predictably from a team managed by Pep Guardiola, the champion’s passing accuracy has reached an impressive 89%, a total of 620 passes per match, highlighting the task that Norwich face.
De Bruyne a boost for City
The form of Kevin De Bruyne has also been a huge positive for City this season. He has supplied five assists and scored the opener in the destruction of Brighton.
The 28-year-old Belgian will be hoping that his good start to the season continues, after an injury ravaged 18/19 season. KdB only made 19 Premier League starts due to successive injuries, including a torn knee ligament in August last year after being hurt in training.
He also sustained another knee ligament problem in the 2-0 win over Fulham in the Carabao Cup after a comeback from that injury last November.
City’s luck with knee injuries so far this season has managed to get worse, with Leroy Sane damaging his cruciate ligament in the Community Shield against Liverpool.
The German international is now set to miss most of this season.
Aymeric Laporte is also set for a prolonged absence after damaging the cartilage and lateral meniscus in his right knee in the Brighton victory. Left-back Benjamin Mendy is still planning his comeback after his own long term knee trouble.
Norwich set for uphill struggle
Norwich City can point to a mixed return to the Premier League after a three year exile in the Championship.
The Canaries came back from a disastrous start after losing 4-1 at Liverpool by smashing Newcastle 3-1 on their top flight home return. Pukki netted a hat trick in the win. The Finnish international has been in fine form in his debut season in the Premier League. He’s carried his goal scoring prowess through the international break, scoring against both Greece and Italy.
The Premier League newcomers also provided a stiff challenge to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, equalizing twice against the Blues in a frantic first half before Tammy Abraham scored the winner in a narrow 3-2 win.
Norwich have conceded ten goals in four matches. Their defending has been widely criticized, and with City in a rampant mood it would be hard to see past anything other than a routine win for the reigning champions.
Daniel Farke’s side will be hoping though that they can adapt at the highest level against one of the best teams in the world, despite their obvious limited experience.
Yet they have their own injury issues before Saturday’s clash, as centre half Timm Klose is set for a spell on the sidelines after damaging his cruciate ligament in the Carabao Cup tie at Crawley Town.
Defender Christoph Zimmermann may return after a foot ligament injury, but midfielder Tom Trybull faces six weeks on the sidelines due to an ankle problem.
Man City’s last visit to Carrow Road ended in a goalless draw back in March 2016, just before Norwich’s Premier League relegation was confirmed.
Where to Bet Premier League in the US
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