European Football’s Value For Money

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Updated: August 4, 2016

In the recent transfer window the valuation of Pogba, the transfer of Higuain or even a team like Crystal Palace placing a £30m bid on one player makes us all consider what is “value for money” or does it even exist? Is there an increase because of the TV revenue or is the behaviour of rival clubs forcing others to try and bring attention towards them?

The top 50 transfers of all time makes for interesting reading and most likely will have a different look at the end of the summer transfer window. The statistic shows which country’s top division have bought how many of the 50 most expensive players.

  • England: 20
  • Spain: 11
  • Italy: 8
  • France: 7
  • China: 3
  • Russia: 1

So there is one thing that sticks out and it is that Germany don’t appear on the list, as a matter of fact the most expensive player to be transferred to the Bundesliga is Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich for an estimated £34m (depending on how the euro is valued) which is 56th even behind Andy Carroll. China’s rising power in football’s economical market is no surprise with more big transfer fees to come and Russia’s purchase of Hulk (who appears twice on the list) in 2012 is where Russia’s record signing comes from.

Hulk In China

History says that the Premier League does like to spend money a lot more excessively than the other leagues in Europe with around €13.9 bn spent on transfers since the beginning of the Premier League era with Serie A being the second biggest spenders at €9.3 bn, La Liga €7 bn, Bundesliga €4.62 bn and Ligue 1 spending €1.19 bn. What does this prove? Well it makes a statement that the Premier League clubs spend by far the most money but with some success in European competitions like the Champions League having 3 English winners since the turn of the millennium next to Spain’s massive 8 victories and German clubs, although having spent around about 3 times less than the EPL sides, are only one trophy behind the English since the year 2000. France on the other hand considered one of the biggest leagues in Europe and PSG becoming a side to fear have to go all the way back to 1993 when Marseille lifted the Champions League. Italian sides have an identical record to England since 2000 with three winners.

The common argument for the sudden influx of money is that of the TV rights, the English Premier league has a big advantage over other top leagues in Europe or basically any league in the world with the new TV deal worth a massive £5.136 bn/3 years compared to the Bundesliga’s €4.64 bn/3 years, Serie A’s €2.82 bn/3 years, La Liga’s €2.65 bn/ 3 years and Ligue 1’s €2.9 bn/4 years. But this advantage doesn’t seem to show as English teams still charge the highest match day tickets and season tickets with the lowest match day tickets in the Premier League last season being higher than the Champions of each 4 other “top” European leagues.

Cheapest match day tickets 2015-2016:

  • Chelsea (Most expensive in England) = €62
  • Leicester (Cheapest in England) = €26
  • Juventus = €22.20
  • Barcelona = €20.40
  • PSG = €18.70
  • Bayern Munich = €14

Though PSG have the most expensive season ticket ahead of Arsenal at over €2000, the cheapest comes to around about €440 which pleases the supporters more than Arsenal fans having to at least pay a four figure season ticket. Barcelona has a cheaper season ticket than any team in the top 4 divisions in England estimated at around €100. One would think that the influx of TV revenue could give the bigger clubs (like Barcelona do) the chance to reward fans for their loyalty without having to make them pay excessive prices for their season tickets.

So this goes to show that the English game sells for the highest prices on TV and in the stadiums and leads to them spending a lot more money on transfers and it questions whether or not it’s about actual investments or mainly to make an image to prove how big a club is like Arsenal are heavily criticised by many for not spending enough when they’ve spent just over €400m since 2010 and have 2 FA cups and 2 community shields to show for it, on the other hand German and European powerhouse Bayern Munich have spent an estimated €420m since 2010 and have won the league 4 times, the German cup 3 times, German Super cup 2 times, FIFA club world cup once, UEFA super cup once and the Champions League in that time.

Munich Champions League 2013

France is one of the countries who have faced disappointment in European competitions over the past few years, PSG making the quarter finals in the past four editions of the Champions League and Lyon making the semi-finals in 2009-2010 season marks their only recent history of European progress. This comes as no surprise though because out of “The Big Five”, Ligue 1 is the only league to make a profit out of transfers which in itself could mark their value for money although it shows how players are departing to clubs with a bigger European status and money only being reinvested cheaply. But as people lose interest in the league because of PSG’s dominance, the viewers and image of the league could be in jeopardy.

The stats of course only tell one side of the story but it still forces us to ask the question how money in the transfer market should be spent, other leagues have arguably more competitive sides in top European competitions where the English are starting to slide in their standards but the upside could be to say that there is a lot more competitiveness in the League itself, seeing Leicester win the league is proof of that. Is the even distribution between English teams benefiting everyone for a future English dominance in Europe or is it bringing teams down to a lower standard?


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