Football Transfer Expenditure: How Much Is Too Much?

Goodform’s Fan Panel captures the insights of sports fans as they give their thoughts on the current financial climate in European football

Football has always been a lucrative sport, with transfer records constantly being broken as the biggest clubs in the world compete for the hottest new signings. The recent levels of spending however have led many sports fans to ask the question, how much is too much?

For the first time ever, the most recent January transfer window saw a Premier League club outspend La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, and the Bundesliga combined. Furthermore, many European leagues have experienced single-side dominance from the highest spending clubs over the last 10 years. The constantly rising fees paid for footballers have been the subject of much debate and controversy, with many fans concerned that it risks damaging the competitiveness of European football.

Goodform carried out research on the January transfer window, using The Fan Panel, to obtain the insights of sports fans as they gave their opinion on the current state of football transfer expenditure and whether or not it is affecting the competitiveness of European football, as well as their overall enjoyment of the game.

Has the Premier League become too dominant compared to other major European leagues?

With an overwhelming 60% of fans expressing concern about the Premier League’s growing dominance, it’s no surprise that 65% of supporters are worried about the increasing disparity between Premier League spend and other major European leagues. This number expectedly jumps to 80% among non-UK football enthusiasts.

What’s truly fascinating is that, while a majority of 62% agreed that excessive spending in the Premier League detracts from the sport’s enjoyment, only 35% of these individuals were under the age of 35, with 60% being older. This indicates that the impact of club spending is less concerning for younger generations.

The appeal of the top European leagues are at risk

The level of domestic competitiveness across Europe’s top leagues is a concern for 70% of fans, with 74% agreeing that the increased dominance of certain clubs is making football less enjoyable. The last 10 years have seen Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain dominate their domestic leagues with Bayern winning their 10th Bundesliga in a row last season.

A majority of fans believe the top leagues should do more to ensure other clubs can still compete, suggesting that most fans would be supportive of spending caps being implemented in future transfer windows.

What can be done to ensure maximum competition?

Sports journalists and personalities alike have voiced ideas on what can be done to ensure that European football remains competitive across all leagues as well as improving financial fair play.

One idea that has been circulating is the suggestion of implementing the same governance and regulations across Europe’s big 5 leagues when it comes to transfer expenditure and NET spend. 66% of fans believe this would be an ideal way of ensuring that no individual club can outspend entire leagues.

A high level of fans think that the Premier League should ensure that wealth is more evenly distributed to the both the EFL (86%) and grass-routes football (88%). A majority of fans, however, are reluctant to distribute this wealth to other European Leagues.

Female fans show more of an interest towards a transfer or wage cap. This highlights the increasing influence of women in sport and growing demand for a more level playing field in terms of financial resources.

Moving Forward

The results obtained in The Fan Panel report suggest that action is needed to be taken to ensure that clubs can spend without impacting the competitiveness of Europe’s biggest leagues. Fans are clearly concerned with the recent levels of NET spend from the Premier League as a collective, therefore, addressing these concerns could be crucial for European football.