The pandemic has forced Premier League clubs to dial down their summer transfer spending, according to new research by Deloitte.
With one week of the transfer window remaining, England’s top-flight teams have committed £70m less in gross terms than at the same stage last year.
And although Manchester City broke the Premier League transfer record with the £100m signing of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, the number of big deals has fallen.
“Going into the window, many expected muted spending but some high-profile deals have attracted great interest and the volume of transfers remains high,” said Deloitte’s Tim Bridge.
“There can be no doubt that the financial pressures faced by clubs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced activity, but some appear to have used it as an opportunity to find value in the market.”
The onset of Covid-19 led to clubs making a collective pre-tax loss of almost £1bn in the 2019-20 season. Figures for last year have not been published yet.
Premier League summer transfer spending has reached £895m so far this year, down from £965m on 24 August 2020.
The volume of transfers has remained at similar levels to recent years. Premier League teams have made 118 signings this summer, compared with an average of 130 for the 2019 and 2020 windows.
But signings for fees in excess of £25m look set to fall. Grealish is one of just 10 deals of that size to have been completed, six short of last summer’s tally.
“A key metric to understand clubs’ overall approach will be the proportion of their estimated revenue spent on net transfers,” added Bridge, a director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
“Last year this totalled 19 per cent and initial signs are that spending will be proportionally down this year, with the pandemic influencing clubs’ strategies.
“However, it’s worth noting that we still have a week to go before the window closes on the 31st August and there are still many deals to be done.”
The Premier League summer transfer window is due to close at 11pm on 31 August.