It wasn’t that long ago that six of the English Premier League’s biggest teams — Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham — sparked outrage for signing up to the proposed European Super League (ESL).
The closed shop for the continent’s biggest clubs was partly born from the desire to earn a larger slice of football’s mammoth pie and to create a more stable income during such uncertain times.
Like every business, clubs were impacted by the pandemic last year with games forced behind closed doors. Teams were robbed of their matchday revenues — the bigger the clubs were in terms of stadium size, the greater that financial hit was.
Not that you’d have noticed in recent weeks as clubs prepare for the new Premier League season.
Led by Manchester City’s eye-watering $138 million deal for English playmaker Jack Grealish, the Premier League has seen bumper prices being paid for some of the best players on the planet ahead of Friday’s opener as newly promoted Brentford hosts Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Chelsea reportedly paid over $130 million for its former striker Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United has already paid $100 million for Jadon Sancho.
Arsenal and Liverpool have bolstered their defenses with $69 million and $48 million deals for central defenders Ben White and Ibrahima Konaté respectively. Tottenham has also invested $65 million in buying Cristian Romero from Atalanta.
Despite the financial hit from Covid-19, football finance expert Kieran Maguire is not surprised about the amount of money being spent at present but has noticed a new trend, funded in part by the mega TV deals for those at the top of the footballing ladder.
“I think what we have seen is a concentration of spending on very, very high value players, whereas perhaps under normal circumstances, it would be improving the quality of the squad,” Maguire told CNN Sport.
“So we’re seeing individual values being very high but the quantity of signings has actually diminished.”