Top English football clubs curb transfer spending

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Football’s summer transfer window petered out on Tuesday with little of the frenzy that has accompanied previous deadline-day dealings, as clubs reined in their spending.

The biggest name to surface on the final day of the transfer window was that of Robinho, when AC Milan announced it had signed the Brazilian striker from Manchester City on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Two years ago, the player’s transfer from Real Madrid to Manchester City for a Premier League record £32.5m on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window epitomised the free-spending habits of many of Europe’s top clubs.

According to Deloitte, the professional services group, the amount spent in the 2010 window was down 22 per cent to about £350m, although net spending was £190m, more than double last year’s total for the period. Net spending is a measure of the amount flowing out of the Premier League to other leagues.

Deloitte estimated that clubs’ spending in the transfer window has been at least £450m in each of the previous three years. In 2008, it was £500m. This year, spending has been “relatively restrained”, said Dan Jones of Deloitte.

“In general, an absence of new owners and clubs striving to improve their financial balance has diminished the vibrancy of the transfer market,” he said.

Take away Manchester City’s dealings and the transfer window would look poverty stricken. Its signings of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jerome Boateng, Mario Balotelli, Aleksander Kolarov and James Milner are thought to have required an outlay of about £115m from owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi’s ruling royal family.

The amount invested by Premier League clubs in overseas players has risen from £154m to £232m, according to Grant Thornton, the accountants, despite the introduction in April of the 50 per cent tax rate for higher earners.

Manchester City, whose deals account for more than 40 per cent of that total, seems happy to absorb much of the tax blow for its foreign legion. Other club owners may be less willing.

A new Premier League rule that limits squad sizes to 25, with a maximum of 17 overseas players, was expected to prompt many clubs to turn to home-grown talent. But Grant Thornton said that only 16 per cent of clubs’ spending went on domestic players, compared with 36 per cent last year.

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