Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in transfers to the Championship from abroad, especially from Europe.
I remember Martin van Geel, the technical director of Feyenoord, lamenting he’d been approached by Watford, then a Championship club, for one of his best players. “They can pay him much more than me.” he said.
And he’s right. According to a Sportsmail study in 2014, player salaries in the Championship outstrip those in many European premier leagues such as the Eredivisie, Portuguese Primera and the Austrian Bundesliga. The best-paid player in the Championship, Fulham’s Scott Parker, reportedly trousered £3.9 million this year. Meanwhile, the highest paid Dutch player in the Eredivisie a couple of years ago was Wijnaldum of PSV who earned £1.4m, followed by Jasper Cillesen at Ajax on 925K.
The charts below tell their own story, with incoming foreign transfers (mainly from Europe) increasing fourfold, from 6% of the total intake in 2010, to 25% in the summer of 2016. (Transfers from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland are counted as domestic.)
But it’s puzzling. Few Championship clubs can afford extensive scouting networks in Europe.
So I’m wondering, are they using performance data to narrow their search? And what are the implications for home-grown players if this trend continues?