The new austerity of Spanish football: because of the pandemic or will it be a trend?

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The decrease in expenses in the hiring of the Spanish League was a fact that drew attention as it was the lowest figure in years and the great difference with other European football leagues. This will be chance or causality?

The 2020/21 player transfer market showed a unusual austerity of Spanish football clubs They not only spent less than their English, Italian and even French rivals, but also had a positive balance between purchases and sales. An accident caused by the economic effects of the pandemic, or a trend that will emerge from now on?

The 410 million euros invested by LaLiga Santander clubs during this unusual market period extended from August 4 to October 5, according to data from the specialized portal Transfermarkt, supposesn the lowest figure since the summer of 2012. Another period marked by an economic recession was when only 150 million were spent among all the clubs, with the arrival of the Croatian Luka Modric to Real Madrid as the main movement.

Both the English Premier League (1.37 billion), the Italian Serie A (762 million) and even the French Ligue 1 (428 million) have spent more on signing this summer than Spanish teams, only above the Bundesliga teams German, who invested 320 million.

The players who participate in the League for this 2020/21 season are 20: “Chimy” Ávila (Osasuna), Marcos Acuña (Seville), Ángel Correa (Atlético de Madrid) Rodrigo Battaglia (Alavés), Guido Rodríguez (Betis), Nehuén Pérez (Atlético de Madrid). Esteban Burgos (Eibar), Jeremías Ledesma (Cádiz), Augusto Fernández (Cádiz), Marcos Mauro (Cádiz), Juan Sánchez Miño (Elche), Lucas Boyé (Elche), Emiliano Rigoni (Elche), Franco Vázquez (Sevilla), Jonathan Calleri (Osasuna), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Juan Foyth (Villarreal) and Facundo Roncaglia (Osasuna)

A detail that also involves Argentine players in this decline in the European “calciomercato”. According New York Times, a decade ago, 47 soccer players from our country were in Serie A in Italy. This year, only 24 are currently registered. In 2014, the Premier League employed 23 Argentines and This season the number has been reduced to just 11.

Compared to last year, in the first category of Spanish football more than 1,340 million were spent in hiring, this year LaLiga Santander clubs spent 69.3% less, the most drastic reduction of the five major European leagues.

Clubs the German Bundesliga saved 57% Over the previous year, the French 40%, the Italians 35.9% and those who least cut the expense tap were the English, 12.2%. Striking data, since all these championships suffer the impact of the same crisis, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“A few years ago they asked me if the soccer bubble was going to explode and I always answered that the bubble would deflate when demand fell, unless an unexpected event happened. Demand did not drop, but something unexpected did occur, a black swan in the form of a virus“, explained to the agency EFE the president of the Spanish Society for Sports Economics, Carles Murillo.

From his point of view, the “uncertainty” caused by the pandemic, has wiped out the income from tickets, due to the empty stadiums due to the health emergency, the reduction in television revenues or the adjustments due to the loss of sponsors, has caused that clubs tend to “rationalize your spending”.

“Obviously there is the general impact of Covid-19, because income has fallen and there is a financial control that prevents you from spending if you do not have income to justify it. At the same time there is a criterion of prudence: if I am asking my players to lower their salary, I cannot sign bells“, expressed to EFE Esteve Calzada, CEO of the Prime Time Sport agency and president of Sabadell, LaLiga SmartBank (Second Division).

Both analysts consider key that the two great economic tractors of Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barcelona, they have been more sellers than buyers. The whites have only incorporated loaned players and have sold to the point of having a positive balance of 98 million, while the great Barça operation has been an exchange with Juventus (the Brazilian Arthur for the Bosnian Miralem Pjanic) and his balance is almost neutral (2.5 million in his favor, according to Transfermarkt).

“La Liga is very polarized with respect to Barcelona and Madrid, while in football’s economic rankings, such as Deloitte’s, there are many more Premier League clubs in the top 20,” Murillo emphasizes. “Without Barça and Madrid acting proactively, the numbers drop dramatically”, adds Calzada.

In fact, the Spanish is the only one of the five major leagues with a positive balance between purchases and sales, of 84.8 million euros, while the rest have spent more than they entered: the Premier has a negative balance of 915.6 million, Serie A at 55, Ligue 1 at 52 and the Bundesliga is practically in balance.

This tendency to save has been experienced first-hand in his dealings with clubs by the general director of football of the You-First player representation agency, Álvaro Torres, who In these months he has perceived “a lot of paralysis” in the clubs.

“Almost everyone told us that they depended on the outputs,” he assured EFE. Many clubs had to vacate chips before signing. “Some even told us that they could economically, but they had no chips. And others that LaLiga did not let them pay more“he added.

The latter refers to the economic control of the Spanish employers, which reduces the margin to spend since the proceeds from sales cannot be used immediately in reinforcements but must be distributed over several years. “That creates a limitation, I don’t know if it is an excess of responsibility,” he said.

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