The megabucks transfer deals in the Premier League have been a welcome distraction to people amid the anxiety created by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Gareth Bale’s agent.
Clubs in England’s top flight spent a combined £1.24billion in the summer window according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
It is an astonishing amount against the backdrop of the global economic problems inflicted by the Covid-19 outbreak, and given the existential threat faced by a number of sports clubs and organisations due to the continued loss of matchday revenue.
"To get a Tottenham shirt on, get playing and helping the team is what I'm looking forward to the most."
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 27, 2020
Bale’s loan move from Real Madrid to Tottenham was one of the most talked-about deals of the summer, with the Spanish club said to be paying a large chunk of his reported £600,000-a-week-wages.
His agent Jonathan Barnett, whose Stellar Group has been bought out by US-based entertainment agency ICM Partners, believes that rather than seeing the wheeling and dealing as distasteful, the window captured the public imagination.
“It excites the people who have enough problems at the moment – it excites the fans, people in this country need things to look at and be happy about, there’s enough sadness around and football brings that,” he told the PA news agency.
“The transfer market gave people something to talk about, to be happy about, to be sad about, it took their minds off what’s going on and I think that’s a great thing.
“First of all you have to look at football as a business, and in business if you stand still you go backwards. If you can viably afford it then you have to improve, and to improve you have to get new players.”
Barnett’s comments follow those of Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano, who defended his club’s summer spending in an interview on Wednesday.
“Ultimately, if you believe like we believe that Covid is just a period of time, and that we have to carry on with our business, then we have to carry on with our business,” he said at LeadersWeek.direct.
“We believe that revenues will come back. The team is the engine of our business – if we don’t play good football, we have no business. We can’t negate that, we can’t avoid that.”
The spending comes against the backdrop of continued negotiations between the Premier League and the EFL over a financial rescue package.
Mark Catlin, the chief executive of League One club Portsmouth, insisted transfer business helped sustain lower league clubs.
“(The Government) lay the blame at the Premier League for their spending on transfer fees and salaries, and say, ‘You’ve got all that swimming around, why are you not passing that money down?’” Catlin told the PA news agency.
“But the reality is it gets passed down anyway – it’s the ecosystem of football.
“If a player gets sold for £50million there is shock horror in the media – but what they don’t realise is that money then trickles down through the pyramid.”