FC Stumbras: Tollbooth to Europe?

An excellent piece by the New York Times details the setup at FC Stumbras Kaunas, a Lithuanian club intently focused on being a transfer waystation to the clubs of Europe. It is a rare glimpse into the for-profit soccer industry and the costs, for both players and owners, involved in chasing part of the transfer market payday.

The story follows Ibrahima Sory Soumah, a player tapped by AS Monaco but who finds himself at Stumbras instead because of visa issues:

[Soumah], signed to a contract that pays him a minimum-wage salary of $470 a month but, bizarrely, includes a multimillion-dollar buyout, he was sharing a bedroom with a teammate in a house owned by F.C. Stumbras,

Similar stories abound throughout the squad, with many players arriving in the past two years hoping to make the step up to a larger club.

Stumbras has been co-owned by Irish financier Richard Walsh and Portuguese coach Mariano Barreto since 2016 with the strategy of using Lithuania’s EU membership as an gateway for free agents to enter the European market. So far the strategy has yielded no high profile transfer coups and met with resistance from players and agents who claim the contracts are unenforceable. Walsh himself has expressed frustration about working with the industry:

“I can’t say I have found more difficult people than people in the football industry,” he said. “I find them anything but truthful and straightforward.”

It is unclear if an experiment like Stumbras can succeed, particularly with an adversarial stance towards agents who hold serious power in the soccer ecosystem.

Full article: New York Times

FC Stumbras: Tollbooth to Europe?

Who’s doing the buying in the 2013-14 transfer window?

Silly season is especially silly this year with big name signings flying fast and thick; Cavani,  Falcao, and Neymar were just the icing on the cake  with over 20 players worth €20m or more changing hands already this summer. Even Major League Soccer got in on the action bringing American superstar Clint Dempsey home to the States for a (large for the MLS) fee of £6m.

So it seems like activity in the 2013-14 window has been particularly intense compared to previous summers. Is this true? And if so who has done the most spending?

There are still a good 20 or so days to go in the window but one league is already a clear standout for ‘Spender of the Year’.

Hey Big Spender

EPL 2013-14 - Net Spend 10 Ten

Chairmen in the EPL have clearly gotten their new checkbooks in and are not afraid to use them. Spending activity in the EPL is also more evenly distributed, with all clubs (except for Arsenal) having a net spend so far this summer. Contrast that with Ligue 1 and you can see that the vast majority of the spending was done by PSG and Monaco (for once the headline count was actually proportional to the activity).

EPL 2013-14 - EPL v Ligue1

You can see the drastic distribution difference in spending in the different standard deviations between leagues. I have also removed the top 2 spenders from each league to show how much of an impact PSG and Monaco have on Ligue 1 statistics.

But back to our original question, has this window been more active than previous ones? To compare let’s look at a few metrics: players in/out, gross expenditure and the average buying and selling prices per player.

Quality not quantity?

EPL 2013-14 - Player movement

Player movement is down quite a bit with the numbers of players in decreasing by 403 (-71%) and players out down by 258 (-54%). Again there are still several weeks left in the window and there is always a burst of late activity but the trend looks like a decrease from previous seasons. A metric that seems right in line with the past several years is the league net spend:

EPL 2013-14 - Net Spend

€332m has been spent so far this summer on a much smaller number of net players which would suggest a certain outcome for the average buy/sell price of players…

EPL 2013-14 - Avg Prices

While the number of players moving is down the average price spent for them is higher. At the lowest €1.06m was spent per player into the league in 2011-12, so far this summer €2.58m per player has been spent. Players are also moving out of the league for less money with an EPL player costing an average of €410k to move on, down from €980k in 2009-10. In comparison to last year the increase/decrease is smaller but still as dramatic with average buying price increasing by €1.21m (+88%) and average selling price decreasing by €350k (-46%).

It is tempting to interpret this data as proof that Premier League clubs are drastically increasing squad quality by importing proven talent (higher avg prices) and selling fewer high quality players (less league exits, lower selling prices). And that maybe the case, but keep in mind  stats may change after the burst of late August activity especially as more free transfers move.

I will post an update of these stats after the window closes and numbers are more comparable.

Who’s doing the buying in the 2013-14 transfer window?

Premier League Transfer Summary 1999-2012

UEFA is the busiest marketplace in the world for football players and the clubs of the English Premier League are the high rollers in the house. English clubs splash cash often and in large amounts. Here we will take a look at some of the data from the past twelve years of the league (1999-00 to 2011-12).


Total Player Movements have increased almost 100% over the period, increasing from 567 in 1999 to 1,041 in 2012. This number includes players involved in loans as well as straight transfers. The growth in transfer activity implies that more players, from more clubs are all moving more frequently. The trend of more volatile squad composition is likely to be well spread too as there is a limit to how many transfers a single club can (or should) contribute per season.

Nothing too surprising in the Departure and Arrival figures, moving on… Continue reading “Premier League Transfer Summary 1999-2012”

Premier League Transfer Summary 1999-2012