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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Why Premier League Transfer Excesses Are Greatly Exaggerated

Written by on September 3, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Money Game

The European transfer window slammed shut on Friday. There was the usual frenzied action as many teams scrambled to move players on and to sign new recruits.

Although there were exceptions, transfer spending throughout continental Europe was more…….for more on this story please click on the link to

6 responses to “Why Premier League Transfer Excesses Are Greatly Exaggerated”

  1. Alberta Gooner says:

    Really enjoyed this piece, Bobby, along with Stefan Szymanski’s commentary about how capitalism works in football. I’ve written my own analysis of this summer’s window. I hope you don’t mind if I link to it in the comments.

  2. Alberta Gooner says:


    If clubs are publicly traded, they have certain disclosure rules, which included audited financial statements. In Great Britain, these rules are governed by the Financial Services Authority. While disclosure doesn’t necessarily stop clubs from “cooking the books” as you put it, those rules do impose severe penalties on corporations who engage in chicanery as well as auditors who sign off on it.

    Furthermore, I’d suggest the troubles surrounding Rangers, Portsmouth and Leeds were well documented and publicized thanks to those rules.

    It will be interesting to what standard UEFA’s regulators use to test the accounts of clubs for Financial Fair Play.

  3. Seattle_Loon says:

    Great article. My first response:ouch! So many of those players depreciated faster than a new car driving off the lot.

    Also makes me wonder especially in light of how lucrative the EPL is in it’s own through TV revenue whether the risk/reward ratio for Champion’s League football is worth it? Does spending multi-millions on qualification make financial sense especially when Man City and Chelsea have a massive head-start through their rich owners and Man Utd outside of the top four seems inconceivable.

    Based on this article the answer would seem to be that most owners have concluded the answer is no.

    Lastly, look at Spurs purchases prior to 2008/2009. See any similarities with Liverpool last season? FSG obviously did a poor job vetting Damien Comolli prior to him being appointed Director of Football.

  4. John Bladen says:

    Thanks for this one, Bobby.

    When looked at from a distance, it often seems that “everyone” is spending irresponsibly in the PL. Of course, it’s not true (particularly when net spending is accounted for, as opposed to the big “splash” that comes with signing a $50m player).

    Kompany & Fellaini, yes. And I wonder how many (in 2008) thought they were bad value signings? Certainly neither were the stars of the summer transfer season. As I recall, Kompany was not long out of L1 (or was it L2?) at the time.

    Qu: Aside from his obvious talent & skill, do you believe Berbatov was a good signing for Ferguson? The club did well during his spell, but I hadn’t realized he’d cost that much (the healing power of time, perhaps…) and given how seldom he seems to have been used the last couple of years, one is left to wonder.

  5. Alberta Gooner says:

    “And you know exactly when these “troubles” first originated as opposed to being exposed and documented/publicized how exactly?”

    They would have been disclosed when submitting their audited financial statements for their quarterly earnings or annual report, just as every other publicly traded company. As an example, Rangers’ tax liablity wasn’t a secret. It was an ongoing issue that turned into a crisis after Inland Revenue rejected Green’s proposal to pay pennies on the pound to creditors.

    “You mean like all the other “transparent” publicly traded companies and investment banks that were given A++ rating by the likes of Moody’s and OK’d by their financial auditors AND REGULATORS and then either declared bankruptcy or caused the current economic recession.”

    1. Football clubs are not banks that traded in the subprime mortgage market.

    2. The SEC has different rules about disclosure than the FSA.

    This isn’t even apples and oranges; it’s like comparing a tricycle to a chimpanzee.

    “Just because you read it on the internet or in the paper doesn’t always make every detail exactly true ya know. Next are you going to tell me that because we have financial regulations and SEC, then all the financial dealings of publicly traded companies, stock brokers, hedge funds and investment banks are legit just because occasionally a Martha Stewart or Madoff are caught and imprisoned or because the likes of Barclays is investigated for fraud several years after the act occurs?

    So we cannot trust audited earnings reports of any publicly traded company? Yeah, that sounds entirely reasonable.

  6. Shawn says:

    Hey Bobby, yet again great analysis done on your part keep up the good work. Will u ever do a podcast and where is Eoin? I miss hearing y’all together on a weekly basis used to look forward every week to it now i’m so missing it. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. thanks.

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