LaLiga slam Premier League ‘cheating’ after clubs spend $1bn

LaLiga has hit out at the Premier League for “cheating” and “doping” after an analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group said clubs spent a record £815 million ($1 billion) in the January transfer window.

The biggest spenders were Chelsea, responsible for 37% of the total — equivalent to more than the combined spend by all clubs in the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1, it said.

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The London club, lying 10th in the league, paid a British-record £106.8m for Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez from Benfica on Tuesday’s transfer deadline day.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas shared a video on Twitter of corporate general director Javier Gomez saying that the Spanish league would ask UEFA to do more on transfers.

“We are aware there is a lot of talk about how LaLiga’s economic control means Spanish clubs sign less than Premier League clubs,” he said. “Let’s explain what’s behind that. What’s the truth? The reality is that at LaLiga we want clubs to spend what they can afford and generate themselves, that is to say, their own revenues.

“It is true that shareholders are also allowed to support the club and put money in to spend more than the club itself can generate, but within certain limits.”

The opposite is true in the Premier League, Gomez said. “The data is as follows: With data compared up to June 30, 2021, and across the five previous seasons, the PL and Championship — top two tiers of English football — lost €3bn. In that same time, the Spanish league lost — we all suffered in the pandemic — €250m. But what happened? During that same period, shareholders across the PL and Champ put in €3.5bn. Across that same period, shareholders in Spain put in €450m.

“What’s the issue? Essentially, they are ‘doping’ the club. They are injecting money not generated by the club for it to spend, which puts the viability of the club at risk if the shareholder leaves. In our opinion, that is cheating, because it drags down the rest of the leagues.

“That is our fight, demanding that UEFA implements a new economic regulation that prevents the shareholder of a club from putting in more than a certain amount and that it enforces this rule and sanctions non-compliant clubs. It doesn’t matter which league or country it is, they should sanction clubs that don’t comply with this regulation.”

The top-flight English clubs’ expenditure was almost three times higher than in January 2022. Over the whole of the 2022-23 season they have spent £2.8bn on player transfers, beating the previous record of £1.9bn set in 2017-18.

Relegation-threatened Bournemouth were the second-largest spenders within the Premier League.

“Premier League clubs have outspent those within the rest of Europe’s “big five” leagues by almost four to one in this transfer window,” said Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.

“However, while there is a clear need to invest in squad size and quality to retain a competitive edge, there will always be a fine balance to strike between prioritising success on-pitch and maintaining financial sustainability.”