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Tue. 05 September 2017

Publication of the CIES Football Observatory transfer market report

The CIES Football Observatory took advantage of the summer break to strengthen its ability to deliver unique information to its growing audience. The first output is the brand new Monthly Report published today, which tracks the money invested in transfer indemnities by big-5 league clubs since 2010.

Transfer fees paid by big-5 league teams have strongly increased. For the fifth consecutive year, a record was set in 2017: €5.9 billion (+41% in comparison with the previous year). If we only take into account the summer transfers, the increase compared to 2016 was 38%: from €3.7 to €5.1 billion. These figures include conditional payments (add-ons), as well as sums for loans with an obligation to buy.

Over the summer of 2017, similar to preceding years, the Premier League clubs have spent the most: about €1.55 billion in fixed transfer fees and €220 million in conditional payments. On average, an English top division club invested €89 million to sign new players. In the other championships studied, this figure varies between €55 million (Serie A) and €34 million (Liga).

The spatial analysis of the sums invested by big-5 league teams during the summer of 2017 shows that most of the money remains within these championships: €3.7 billion (71% of the total). However, only 52% of paid transfers carried out by big-5 league clubs involved players under contract with teams from these competitions. This imbalance is due to the fact that the most expensive transfers occur between clubs in the big-5. The cases of Neymar, Mbappé and Dembélé are perfect examples of this situation.

Rather than call into question the usefulness of the transfer system, as argued by FIFPro notably, the CIES Football Observatory analysis makes a case for the reinforcement of redistribution mechanisms. An increase in indemnities paid to training clubs, as well as an augmentation and generalisation of solidarity contributions, such as those planned by FIFA for international transfers, would constitute concrete measures for improving the system.

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