This summer saw the sides in the English Premiership go into overdrive, mostly due to the rather large windfall that in coming their way next year. It would appear as though the objective has been to over stretch the existing budget now to improve squads safe in the knowledge that each club in the league is in line for a large cash payout (rumoured to be around £100million) thanks to two mammoth TV deals signed by Sky (£5.2billion) and NBC (£1billion). That is nearly a 100% jump on what the clubs made last season (up from £52.5million) giving the clubs more muscle in this window in which to operate. Whilst the top four have spent large amounts of money strengthening their already impressive teams, it’s the other sides who look to be benefiting the most from this cash injection.
West Brom’s acquistion of Venezuelan striker Solomon Rondon for a club record £12 million, Stoke’s purchase of Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri also for £12million and Yohan Cabaye’s arrival at Crystal Palace for £13million are all indications of this new-found wealth and the pull that the Premiership now has. Even the newly promoted trio of Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford have all been active in the window spending potentially more than they had hoped in an attempt to build a side capable of staying in the league. Afterall its only the 20 teams in the Premier League at the start of next season that will benefit from the new TV deals and get a share of the cash. That said, all three will be comfortable knowing that if they don’t survive they will still be looked after by the league who are set to increase the parachute payments in an effort to soften the blow. The stakes are simply higher than ever with all twenty clubs realizing that they need to make sure they are in the Premiership come next season which has forced even the more financially prudent of clubs to invest. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has received a lot of criticism over his tenure at the club mostly due to what the fans deem as a failure to invest in the clubs future. Indeed Newcastle have pulled the proverbial purse strings over the past few years which has resulted in a healthier bottom line for the club at the expense of performances on the pitch. But after narrowly avoiding relegation last year, Ashley has finally opened his wallet and started to spend heavily again much to th delight of the fans. In came Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba, Ivan Toney and Florian Thauvin for a combined net spend of £50 million, second only to Manchester City who have spent to date £5million more.
Across Manchester, the Red Devils have continued their spending spree from last summer as Louis Van Gaal looks to revamp his entire squad. The arrival of Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmain, Morgan Schneiderlin, Anthony Martial and Bastian Schweinsteiger are an early signal of United’s intent this year but the club are far from finished spending and could overtake their city rivals by sealing a superstar signing right at the death. Having lost out on Pedro to Chelsea, rumours around who exactly Van Gaal’s big surprise was circulated in run up to the window shutting throughout the various world tabloids. Names like Ibrahimovic, Cavani, and Thomas Muller had the fans drooling but not as much as Neymar who United are rumoured to be wooing in the hopes of signing him for a world record £240million. This deal never happened with United buying Martial but a move for Neymar could happen next summer with United with negotiations ongoing. With money rolling into the club thanks to the new TV deals and some new lucrative sponsorships, United’s crazy spending sprees could continue for some time especially given that UEFA has relaxed its financial fair play rules almost to the point of abolishing them all together.
Whilst the strengthening of the clubs outside of the top four in the Premier League can only be a good thing in a sense making the league more competitive than ever before, there are some major risks associated with it. The financial wealth that these twenty clubs will shortly have will mean that the best players in the world will be moving to England, even to clubs that historically they would have not considered in the past. This could have a detrimental effect on the other leagues across Europe who struggle to compete with the financial windfalls that the Premier League clubs can offer players. But it could also have an effect on the England national team with fewer home-grown products able to break into their club sides now brimming with the worlds best players. This problem already exists to a degree with few English players playing regularly in the league especially in the top four clubs.
Only Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), John Terry and Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) and Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) can classify themselves as regular starters. More recently clubs like Everton, Southampton, Leicester and Tottenham have provided players for Roy Hodgson’s side but this could also change if more talented players from abroad arrive at those clubs. Many managers are calling for a change in the timing of when the window shuts but not a single one in the league is pushing for a cap on foreign players in their squads in an attempt to aid the development of English players. Other leagues like Russia are now introducing these rules to protect the future of their national team and its identity. It’s unlikely that this approach will ever be taken by those at the top of the Premier League who are blinkered by their new-found wealth and the wonders that are to come.