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Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward sounded a stark warning for anyone assuming football will return to its exorbitant, care-free ways of spending when the window re-opens later this year.
“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs , including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer, ”Woodward told a United fans’ forum via conference call.
“ As ever our priority is the success of team . But we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.
“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”
It is a grave viewpoint that is steeped in realism for anyone still believing their club will embark on big-spending surgery to their squad in the next window.
Last month, researchers from the CIES Football Observatory, a research group within the Switzerland-based International Center for Sports Studies, calculated that the total transfer value of players in the big five leagues in Europe could fall by as much as 50 per cent.
It could lead to a situation where clubs will do their utmost to retain their brightest stars, leading to what is a very quiet window.
There is also the idea of public image and the morality of how the COVID- the situation has been handled by clubs across the Premier League.
Liverpool, of course, were one of the clubs who were forced to backtrack on plans after the decision was met with strong opposition earlier this month.
For example, club officials, across the Premier League, will surely have considered how spending upwards of £ – 823 m on a single new player in the transfer market might look just months after plans were in place to use taxpayers’ money to pay some of their lowest-paid members of staff.
And while the search for on-field improvement will go on, the country’s largest clubs – Liverpool, included – might start refocusing their efforts to u nearth value in less spectacular additions to their squads this summer.
It may not be what the transfer-hungry football fan wants to hear, but Woodward’s words are likely to ring true.