Where have all the fans gone?
The grass is cut, the pitch has been beautifully lined, football is back and the transfer window just closed.
Consultancy firm Deloitte have an excellent study for fans of the beautiful game. The spending power for the five big leagues in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France was almost €3 billion. This enormous figure is staggering, however, when you drill down into it, the figure is greatly down from the €3.25 billion in 2020, compared to the equally staggering €5.5 billion in 2019.
Covid-19 has badly hit the incomes of clubs, from fans paying for season tickets and huge rebates from digital broadcasters owing to the cancellation of many matches during the past 18 months.
What has been most notable is the increased level of free transfers, most notable being Messi’s move from Barcelona to PSG. It would appear the backstory to the move is attributed to the club being unable to maintain the salaries of its playing assets, with growing debts of over €1 billion.
Added to the fact that there have also been a lot of high-profile loan deals such as Saul Niguez from Atlético Madrid to Chelsea and Antoine Griezmann returning to Atlético from Barcelona.
Nonetheless, we on this side of Europe are thrilled to see the great return of Christiano Ronaldo to Manchester United for what could be described as a tiny fee of €23 million.
The commercial potential for Ronaldo’s involvement with the Old Trafford club not alone will help sell shirts and merchandise, but will help mentor the next generation of superstars thriving at the club.
While the figures show that the amount of money spent in transfers in the last two years has dropped dramatically, it is likely that there are less signings being made by smaller clubs, as they will be hardest hit by a lack of fans.
Despite many exclamations by commentators over the past 18 months that Covid will change the football transfer market forever, it does still see quite buoyant given the circumstances, due in no small part perhaps to the fact that the big clubs have never been less reliant on gate receipts.
Its game on for next season.