Big spending masks age of austerity for top soccer clubs

    Mario Balotelli, David Beckham and Christopher Samba were the stars of transfer deadline day.

    Story highlights

    • English clubs topped spend during the January transfer window
    • January is one of two periods of the year when European soccer clubs can buy players
    • English Premier League teams spent $190 million on players throughout the month
    • The figure is double the amount spent in the same period last year
    January can be a grueling month. Christmas is but a distant memory, with the only reminder of the festive period the credit card bills which keep tumbling through the letter box.
    It is often a time for cutting ones cloth as once profligate football clubs are finding out, though the likes of English Premier League club Queen Park Rangers have gone on a spending spree in a desperate bid to avoid relegation.
    English Premier League clubs splashed out a combined £120 million ($190 million) on new players during the January transfer window -- double the £60m spent during the same period in 2012 -- but those figures can be deceptive, with QPR, Liverpool and Newcastle United accounting for over half of the money spent in England's top flight.
    But, in truth, the increase in spending contradicts the mood of austerity which is blowing like tumbleweed through European soccer.
    "There were relatively few active spenders in the winter window, with over half of this January's total transfer spending coming from three clubs," said Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte, as he analyzed spending trends in the English Premier League.