The English Premier League ran up a record $614 million deficit in its pre-season purchases of foreign football stars but more than covered its spending with extra TV and rights earnings around the world, a report said Thursday.
English clubs led by Manchester United spent 579.3 million pounds ($938 million) recruiting imports in the July-August transfer window, Barclays Football Balance of Trade report said.
Foreign clubs spent £200 million on English players leaving the Premier League with a trade deficit of £379.1 million ($614 million) — seven times higher than Germany’s Bundesliga in second place.
China, notably, had the third highest football trade deficit as it brings in foreign players to boost its Super League.
Despite the amount of soccer money pouring out of England, overseas television and foreign sponsorship rights now earn more than £1 billion (1.6 billion) more than covering the deficit.
Barclays said the Premier League’s foreign earnings were almost double that of Spain, which took 35% of the money English clubs paid out for foreign stars like Angel di Maria who went to Manchester for £59.7 million ($98 million).
The Premier League now earns more than £744m a year from television rights and paid sponsorships will bring in another £343m for the 2014/15 season. The sponsorship figure could be much higher as some amounts are not disclosed, the report added.
“Matches from England’s Premier League are beamed to around 211 countries across the globe, and overseas corporates want to be part of what is regarded by many as the best football league in the world,” said Chris Lee, head of professional sports banking at Barclays.
In Europe, Spain accounted for 35% of the export market during the transfer window. It spent an estimated £315 million but sold £363 million to give a healthy surplus.
France’s Ligue 1 moved from being one of the biggest net importers of football talent in 2013/14 transfer window, with a deficit of £124 million, to the third biggest exporter in 2014/15. It had a football surplus of £86.6m for the 2014/15 pre-season transfer window.
German clubs sold high profile players like World Cup winner Toni Kroos, who went to Madrid for an estimated 30 million euros ($38 million dollars), but still spent an estimated £140.8 million for a deficit of £53.8 million.
Brazil always makes money from sending players abroad, but its surplus has gone down to £19.9 million from £161.2 million in 2013/14.
China’s Super League is emerging as a major importer of overseas talent as it grows. China had a deficit of £7.4 million for the pre-season transfer window, modest but still the world’s third biggest.