Premier League clubs made a net profit in the transfer window for the first time, according to Deloitte’s records.
Spending by top-flight clubs reached a six-year high for the transfer window at £215million, but a profit was recorded with Premier League clubs receiving more in transfer fees from overseas and Football League clubs than they paid out.
Chinese clubs, who are able to buy players until the end of February, have not been shy in splashing the cash on Premier League talent, with Oscar heading to Shanghai SIPG for a reported £52m and Odion Ighalo leaving Watford for Changchun Yatai in a £20m deal on deadline day.
And Dan Jones, partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, told Press Association Sport: “We think it’s the first (profit) ever, looking back through our records – we’re into year 15 of the transfer windows and we can’t recall it happening before.
“I think we’ll see it as an anomaly, a one-off, rather than something we’ll see continuing into the future.
“The Chinese government has been very prominent in pushing football and catalysing this boom in player spending and Chinese investment in clubs in Europe. I think the signals now are that they’re just trying to moderate that, throttle it back a little bit.
“With the new rule about a maximum of three overseas players in the matchday squad, if you’ve got six or seven clubs spending big money, that limits it to about 20 players they’re going to come for and they’ve already got a fair number of those.
“We might see a bit of activity again in the summer but I don’t think it’s a phenomenon that is going to see us as a net exporter every year, by any means.”
The hefty fees paid by French clubs Lyon and Marseille for Memphis Depay and Dimitri Payet respectively added to the cash-flow back into the Premier League.
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But Tuesday’s late flurry of activity saw Burnley spend a club-record £13m to bring in Robbie Brady from Norwich, while Crystal Palace spent big on Olympiacos’ Luka Milivojevic and brought Mamadou Sakho on loan from Liverpool and Hull signed three players including £7m Poland winger Kamil Grosicki.
In all, half of January’s top-flight spending came from the bottom six clubs and two-thirds from the bottom half, boosted by Southampton’s £14m acquisition of Napoli forward Manolo Gabbiadini.
That contrasted with the summer 2016 window, which saw the top six account for almost 60 per cent of expenditure in the first-ever billion-pound window.
“It’s not been an attention-grabbing window, in terms of really big-name new players or long-running, will-they-won’t-they sagas,” said Jones.
“It’s been a succession of £10m-ish deals that those clubs at the bottom of the Premier League are thinking might be the guy that makes the difference.
“The big six have pretty much sat on their hands and the guys at the bottom of the table have been spending money. It’s a trend we’ve seen before and will continue to see, but it’s been very stark this January.
“I think we will see a pretty busy summer – whether we’ll see another record, I’m not quite sure. I think we might come up a little bit short of last time, due to where we are in the TV cycle as much as anything else.
“We also had a rush of new managers over the course of the summer and that will have calmed down a bit. I think we’ll still see England as the biggest spenders in the summer, but I doubt whether we’ll see another record.”