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English teams’ spending habits nullify excitement of European competitions

Photo used with permission from Wikimedia Commons
Chelsea players celebrate as they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy, and it symbolizes their European dominance in 2021. Chelsea won the Champions League title after beating their fellow Premier League side, Manchester City 1-0 in the final.

During the January transfer window, Chelsea Football Club alone spent a total of £323 million, per ESPN. This amounted to a greater sum than Ligue 1, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A’s combined spending. Chelsea, along with other wealthy clubs in the Premier League, has attracted some of the best football players worldwide to play in England. Consequently, the Premier League has become the most competitive and rich league in the world, and its rapid monetary growth will completely change European football’s dynamics.

The beauty of European football, especially the Champions League, is that the best teams from each domestic league go head-to-head with the intent of being crowned the best team in Europe. However, with all the big-name players seeking a transfer to the Premier League, English teams will dominate the Champions League, eliminating the excitement of European football.

Many well-known English clubs have gone on extravagant spending sprees in recent years; one example is Manchester City, which has been owned by Sheikh Mansour of the United Arab Emirates since 2008, according to The Guardian. Throughout this time, Manchester City has transformed from an average team to winning four of the last five Premier League titles. Between 2008 and 2022, Manchester City spent £2.3 billion on player transfers alone, according to TransferMarkt.

Manchester City signings include stars like Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland. Manchester City now stands as one of the best football clubs and has breezed past most of its competition.

According to Transfermarkt, this past year, Chelsea spent £530 million — an all-time high for player transfers during a single season. Even with all the money spent, Chelsea currently finds themselves in 11th place in the Premier League table, only 12 points off the relegation positions. Although they have put up poor domestic performances, they made it to the Champions League’s quarter-final and show a lot of promise for the years to come.

Overall, the Premier League has spent a total of £2.8 billion during the 2022-2023 season, accounting for 79% of money spent across the top five leagues according to Bein Sports

If these spending sprees continue, the simple answer is that English teams will overpower European competition for years or even decades to come.

This season, Newcastle rose from being near-relegation to now sitting in third place in the Premier League. Their recent success can be linked to their change in ownership, since the takeover, they have spent a total of £220 million on transfers, according to Statista. Even small Premier League teams are spending more than larger football clubs overseas. This simply isn’t a sustainable way for Premier League teams to continue operating. 

English teams are consistently reaching the final stages of European tournaments, and this begs the question of what European football will look like in the coming years. If these spending sprees continue, the simple answer is that English teams will overpower European competition for years or even decades to come. If European football becomes dominated by any single league, it nullifies the excitement and entertainment of the competition for football lovers.

One proposal to prevent this was to make the Union of European Football Associations, UEFA, instill more stringent Financial Fair Play rules on Premier League teams to limit the amount of money they can spend on players. However, that is not the purpose of these Fair Play rules. The set of rules aims to ensure that clubs aren’t spending more money than they earn, but with the Premier League making more money than any other through television rights and ticket sales, they inevitably have the highest spending rates.

UEFA should explore different ideas or possibilities, such as salary cut-offs or specific transfer budgets. This will maintain the appeal and popularity of the Champions League, along with the Europa League and the Conference League, as these three European tournaments should consistently display the highest level of football on a consistent basis.

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About the Contributor
Adrian Caillaux Diaz ('26) is a Reporter for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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