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Does the Premier League need to introduce a transfer cap?

After Premier League clubs splashed out a record £1.17 billion this summer, we look at whether it’s time to introduce a transfer cap

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The summer transfer window of 2017 saw the biggest splashing of cash by Premier League clubs to date. As reported by the BBC, the combined net spend was £1.17 billion, which tops the £1.165 billion spent last summer. While this is good for fans in terms of the world’s top talent being attracted to play in England, many have become increasingly concerned with the high transfer fees we are now seeing.

The big fear within the game is that this type of high spending will in effect make the Premier League less competitive, as the major teams, such as Chelsea and Manchester United, use their financial muscle to pinch all the best players. The concern is that eventually the teams lower in the league will be left behind, with inferior squads and no hope of competing properly with the big boys.

Summer 2017 big transfers

You only have to look at the biggest transfers in the summer 2017 Premier League transfer window to see how out of control transfer fees are and how it’s mostly the bigger clubs that have the spending power to get the very best players.

By far the biggest story was Romelu Lukaku’s move from Everton to Manchester United for £75 million. This is a huge fee for a striker who is by no means the finished product. It seems that the player was keen to move to a club that could offer a serious chance of silverware, and Everton couldn’t resist such a big fee.

Other examples are those such as Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon to Arsenal for £52 million, and Bernardo Silva from Monaco to Manchester City for £43 million. While great players, these sorts of figures are seen by many as evidence of a transfer system gone out of control. It also highlights that other countries know full well that Premier League clubs have vast amounts to spend and so bump their player prices up to suit when selling to England.

Of course, there were many signings that didn’t happen, that could have been big news. Kylian Mbappe was coveted by all the top English clubs and Antoine Griezmann was long touted as a certain Manchester United move. Many kept an eye on the best UK betting sites over the summer to stay informed on the chances of these happening.

What can be done to address this issue?

The simplest way to regulate the Premier League transfer market more is by introducing some sort of transfer cap. Whether this is on how much can be spent by a club in one window or how many players they can buy is open to debate, but either could be an option. It would help tackle the twin problems of the richest clubs cherry-picking players to bulk their squads up and using their spending power to sign all the top players.

As The Telegraph reports, new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin also plans to look at imposing some sort of tax on the richer clubs who spend too much on a transfer or in a window, as well as limiting the number of players a club can have in its squad. This would be welcomed by the lower spending teams, as it would level the playing field in terms of allowing them a chance to sign the better talent on offer.

What has given some clubs this spending power?

There are a couple of different reasons for the over-inflated Premier League transfer prices and club’s recent spending power. First is the issue around the TV rights the league sells to television companies to show games. This deal is simply huge in terms of money and means that vast amounts of cash go to all the Premier League clubs. When the big cubs put this with the finance provided by their owners, it gives them a big war chest to spend on players, compared to lower teams.

Another factor in how the Premier League has changed as a whole, and certainly in how transfers work, is the wages players earn. Most players in the Premier League now are earning amounts unheard of 20 years ago. The top players can be earning hundreds of thousands each week, which is a real barrier to some teams being able to sign them. It also presents other issues such as the fans inability to relate to them.

Will the Premier League act?

A cap on transfer fees and salaries is one seemingly sensible solution to the current problem in the Premier League. Whether it will ever be adopted is another story though! Most of the top clubs would resist and players from all clubs would not be in favour of a salary cap, so it would be a hard sell. With UEFA pushing for changes, however, it could be something that happens in the future.

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