Commentary: Don’t expect football clubs to splash big bucks this transfer window

SINGAPORE: The 2019 to 2020 English Premier League (EPL) season finally finished on Sunday (Jul 26), a full 11 months after it kicked-off.

A three-month suspension from March to June due to the coronavirus outbreak was responsible for the delay – the EPL season typically ends in late May – and also means that the 2020 to 2021 season will start on Sep 12 rather than in August.

In previous years, the time between the season start and end is marked by the transfer window a period of intense wheeling and dealing of players. By now, the rumour mills would already have been working overtime to speculate the movement of players between clubs. That is hardly the case this time around.


The global spread of and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means that this summer’s transfer window, which opened in England on Jul 27 and will close on Oct 5, will not reach the frenzied heights of previous years.

READ: Commentary: There’s good reason why football clubs shouldn’t be allowed to spend excessively

Fewer big deals are expected. Clubs around Europe are still dealing with the financial effects of leagues being suspended and then restarting in empty stadiums as in England, Italy, Spain and Germany or cancelled outright as in France.

Last summer, these leagues, collectively called “The Big Five”, spent 5.8 billion euros (US$6.8 billion) on players, a rise of 1.1 billion euros from the previous year.

A fall in transfer activity is almost certain this transfer window with the question being of just how much.

With millions of jobs disappearing around the continent, there is uncertainty as to whether fans – when it is eventually deemed safe for them to return to the stadiums – and sponsors will return in the same numbers next season.

READ: Commentary: As the EPL kicks off, be prepared for a very different second half

Many clubs have sent staff on furloughs and asked others to take pay cuts.

Newly crowned English champions Liverpool have been sounding a conservative note when it comes to the coming weeks. “It’s just not likely that it will be the most busy summer in the world,” Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said in July. “How much can you spend if you don’t know how much you can have? That is exactly the situation.”

READ: Commentary: The new era of English football belongs to Liverpool

Other members of the European elite such as Bayern Munich have echoed calls for clubs to become more rational in the transfer market.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp AFP/GEOFF CADDICK

“In the past 10 years, with these ever-higher, ever-further, ever-faster sums for player transfers and player salaries, football has shot a long way past the goal,” chief executive of the German champions Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in June. “We have to find better solutions in Europe.” 


But, just like property…

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