Soccer clubs spent nearly $1.9 billion less than last year on international player transfers during the European summer trading window, according to FIFA research published Friday.
Disruption to the soccer industry from the coronavirus pandemic extended trading by five weeks into October. It also took billions of dollars out of the market from lost revenue in broadcasting deals and tickets sales.
FIFA’s transfer monitoring system recorded $3.92 billion in spending on players moving between clubs in different countries. Sales were $5.8 billion in the shorter summer window in 2019.
Clubs have been obliged since 2010 to share financial details of cross-border player moves with the FIFA platform. It was also intended to help clean up the often murky transfer market.
European clubs were overwhelmingly the biggest spenders — paying $3.78 billion — with English clubs spending the most at $1.25 billion in the market which closed Monday. Italian clubs spent $544 million on buying players from abroad.
The money circulating showed European clubs also received $3.5 billion in transfer fees. Spanish clubs took in $672 million, Italian clubs $484 million, and $396 million went to England.
FIFA’s figures offer only a partial picture as they do not include transfer deals between clubs in the same country.
Still, there is a strong trend of money flowing from Europe to South America.
FIFA’s report details South American clubs receiving $295 million from international transfers and spending only $25 million.
Asian confederation clubs spent $87 million and received $62 million.
The volume of transfers also trended down from more than 9,000 international deals one year ago to 7,424 in the latest summer window.
The number of deals involving a fee fell by almost 25%, to a total of 1,222.
FIFA counted four categories of international transfers: permanent deals, free agent signings, loans out and players returning from loans.