Premier League to investigate PSR transfers over private scepticism about number of deals

Tim Iroegbunam

The Premier League will look at all transfers for fair value with some clubs believing that sales of young players between certain clubs in the last few days of the current financial year could principally be driven to generate profits to comply with cost control rules.

There has been private scepticism at a number of deals, both completed and proposed, variously involving Newcastle United, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Everton, as to whether the sums involved were realistic valuations of the players concerned.

Any fees earned by clubs until now and the final day of the month, the last day of the accounting year for many of them, can be booked as profit on their submission to comply with Premier League financial controls, known as profit and sustainability rules [PSR].

Under the league standard accounting process, a £10 million fee earned on a player transfer registered before the end of the weekend would count in its entirety towards this year’s PSR compliancy for the selling clubs. Any transfer spending in terms of a fee is a cost spread over the span of a player’s contract.

The current PSR rules dictate that no clubs can lose more than £105 million over a three-year period, a rolling provision that is audited on an annual basis by the Premier League.

The PSR rules will continue over the next financial year which starts for most clubs on Monday, the first day of July. The expectation is that this time next year PSR will be replaced by new financial controls – squad costs – although that has yet to be voted formally into the Premier League’s handbook by the 20 clubs.

Omari Kellyman

The PSR rules incentivises clubs struggling with PSR compliancy to sell players – especially those who are homegrown – to generate book profits. The Premier League is obliged to test all transactions, from player sales, to commercial deals, for fair market value.

There is discussion now in football of “two summer transfer windows”. The first up to June 30 in which clubs try to generate book profits for PSR compliancy and then the second from July 1 to the close of the window on August 30 when they actually sign the players they need for the coming season.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the clubs involved, but rivals have noticed a flurry of deals between certain clubs known to be under pressure to comply with PSR in the current monitoring period.

Although Premier League rules governing transfers are broad, section B.15 requires clubs to act in “utmost good faith” towards one another and the league. “For the avoidance of doubt and by way of example only, it shall be a breach of the duties under this rule to act dishonestly towards the league or another club; or engage in conduct that is intended to circumvent these rules or obstruct the board’s investigation of compliance with them.”

Chelsea have sold the Dutch academy graduate Ian Maatsen, 22, to Aston Villa for around £37.5 million. Chelsea have signed Villa’s 18-year-old midfielder Omari Kellyman for £19 million. Maatsen played for Borussia Dortmund on loan last season including starting the Champions League final. Although very promising, Kellyman has played less than 45 minutes in the Premier League for Villa over two appearances this season. He was bought by Villa for £600,000 one year earlier from Derby County and is rated as Villa’s best academy prospect.

Aston Villa have signed the Everton striker Lewis Dobbin, 21, for £9 million. Everton have bought the Villa midfielder Tim Iroegbunam, 20, for around £10 million. Both have represented England at junior level. In all cases the book cost for the acquiring club will be spread over the length of the players contract while the full price realised on sales can be booked immediately in its entirety by the seller.

Lewis Dobbin
Lewis Dobbin, who made one Premier League start and 11 appearances off the bench in 2023-24, has been sold for £9m - Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

It is understood that Villa feel they have had no option but to adapt to the constraints, as they see them, of PSR. The club proposed raising the level of permitted losses to £135 million over three years at the recent Premier League AGM but it was rejected. Villa’s owner Nasser Sawiris is a critic of PSR and believes that it limits the ambitions of clubs such as his. Villa would like a change to a financial control regime which allows for clubs like them to invest in making the side as competitive as possible.

The club feel that £19 million is a fair price for Kellyman, their best academy player. Chelsea signed Carney Chukwuemeka from Villa for a similar price two years ago although the player, then also 18, was at the end of his contract, presenting the club with a different dynamic.

Villa are also selling Douglas Luiz to Juventus, a £42 million deal which was inevitable once it became clear the midfielder would not renew his deal. In the other direction Villa have signed Juventus’ Argentine midfielder Enzo Barrenechea, 23, and Samuel Iling-Junior, 20, an England Under-21, for a deal worth up to £21 million.

As for Maatsen, left-back is a position Unai Emery has sought to strengthen for some time. Maatsen, 22, was a late call-up for the Netherlands’ Euro 2024 squad and has more than 150 senior club appearances.

Newcastle United and Everton had been in talks over two separate deals. One that would see Everton’s experienced England international striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 27, go to Newcastle and the other, the teenager Yanuba Minteh, a Gambia international, join Everton.

Telegraph Sport reported today that the deal has now collapsed and the 19-year-old Minteh is now likely to move to Lyon, controlled by the US investor John Textor who has been trying to sell his stake in Crystal Palace.