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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb, 1, 2007

January transfer spending dips for the first time

The January spending of Premiership clubs has dipped from the previous year for the first time since the transfer window's inception.

The total expenditure of top-flight teams was just over £60million last month, £10m down on the record total paid out over the same period last year.

However, the figure is still the second-largest amount spent in the four years of the window, beating the £50m of 2004 and 2005 and the £35m from 2003.

Many of last month's purchases were carried out by sides fighting to avoid relegation, with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal not spending a penny.

In sharp contrast, Coca-Cola Championship sides spent more last month - around £20m in total - than in any of the previous windows.

Dan Jones, a partner at sports business analysts Deloitte, believes the arrival of a three-year £2.725billion television contract next year - £1bn more than the current deal - is the major driving force behind these spending patterns.

'The prospect of enhanced broadcasting monies from next season has been a key driver for some clubs at both the lower end of the Premiership and amongst the Championship clubs,' he said.

Alan Switzer, a senior consultant at Deloitte is not surprised at the lack of activity from the Premiership's top four clubs.

'I think it's more to do with lack of availability of players,' he told PA Sport.

'The vast majority they are after are cup-tied in the Champions League.

'One or two transfers didn't quite happen as well, the [Owen] Hargreaves transfer to United - almost certain to go through in the summer - just didn't happen in the window.

'Some of the clubs they're looking to buy from are probably pushing for a European place and not looking to sell.

'It's probably not an unwillingness to spend, just not being able to get the players they want.'

Switzer believes it is no coincidence that the two biggest move of the window were made by Aston Villa and West Ham.

Villa paid the month's biggest fee, signing Ashley Young from Watford for a figure that could rise to £9.65m.

The Hammers were close behind, forking out what could eventually be £7.5m for Birmingham defender Matthew Upson on deadline day.

January was the first chance both clubs had this season to spend since changing owners.

'You had a change of ownership at Aston Villa and West Ham so it's really the first chance for the managers to start shaping the team as they like,' said Switzer.

'The new owners are willing to back their managers.'

Young's transfer was handled by First Artist management company and their chief operating officer Phil Smith believes January is a much tougher market than the summer window.

'I don't think clubs like spending in the [January] transfer window because they get held to ransom with ridiculously inflated prices,' he told PA Sport.

'But there's a month to do it in and that's it.'

Smith revealed that the 'majority' of deals in which he was involved fell through over player valuation.

'A lot of conversations were `he's not available - how much?' he said.

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