The new season of English Premier League soccer is the costliest ever, before a ball has even been kicked. Teams have already spent a record £647 million ($1.08 billion) on players, according to the BBC, and there are still two weeks before the summer transfer window closes.
The Premier League is the richest soccer league in the world, mainly because of the ever-more-insane amounts spent on global television rights to air its matches. NBC paid $250 million to broadcast games in the US for three years; in the UK, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky and former UK telecoms monopoly BT paid more than $5 billion for rights over the same period. The scale of the current TV deal means that that the lowest-placed team, which is relegated out of the league, now makes more than the league winner did under the the previous deal.
All that cash is not going into lowering ticket prices and figuring out sustainable ways to bring in young players through the ranks. Instead, it is going toward paying huge wages to star players:
- Among the most eye-catching transfers are Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa, two attackers who cost more than £30 million each and went to Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively. The biggest move of the summer was actually out of the Premier League. Serial nibbler Luis Suarez was sold by Liverpool to Barcelona for £75 million, the third-highest transfer of all time, despite Suarez being banned for four months for chomping on an Italian player.
- With Suarez’s move to Barcelona and World Cup star James Rodriguez’s £63 million move from Monaco to Real Madrid, has Spain now bought itself the best league in the world?
- After a disastrous season last year in which they went from champions to seventh, Manchester United dispensed with Alex Ferguson’s appointed successor, David Moyes, and turned to Louis Van Gaal, a proven tactician who took the Netherlands to third in the World Cup. Since he was appointed in May, shares in the soccer club have risen 3% in New York—and are up 12% since the start of the year. Can he revive the Red Devils on the pitch as well?
- In a bid to keep the value of the rights, the Premier League has warned fans not to share goals on Vine or Twitter. Fans vs. the league could be the rivalry of the season.