- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GENEVA (AP) - Just five football clubs spent almost a quarter of the $3.7 billion splurged on international transfer deals processed by FIFA in 2013.

Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Tottenham and Real Madrid spent $828 million in cross-border trades, according to figures published Wednesday by FIFA which clears such deals only when both clubs involved file mandatory financial details.

The market peaked with Madrid’s world record 100 million euros ($132 million) buy of Gareth Bale from Tottenham last August.

“There are just a very few clubs making very big moves and that is skewing the market, but the rest of the market is very stable,” Mark Goddard, general manager of FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS), told reporters.

Global spending rose 41 percent year-on-year according to the annual TMS report, which excludes deals between two clubs in the same country.

FIFA presented the figures after the international players’ union FIFPro this month pledged to legally challenge the entire transfer system as a restraint of labor freedom.

A FIFA-funded research center in Switzerland also questioned this week if more trading was good for European football, which paid 90 percent of transfer fees recorded by FIFA.

“The cloud of economic stakes that hangs over sporting logics is flagrant in many clubs and countries,” reported the CIES Football Observatory based in Neuchatel, noting a “trend that is difficult to understand.”

FIFA’s report offered no opinion on the multi-billion dollar market, though cited three main reasons for the spending rise: so-called “super-clubs,” the English Premier League’s spiraling broadcast rights value and high turnover of coaches at leading clubs.

Monaco’s lavish spending - including on Colombia forward Radamel Falcao - followed a takeover by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, while PSG and Man City are backed by the Qatar and Abu Dhabi ruling families, respectively.

Tottenham reinvested after selling Wales winger Bale, while Madrid’s commercial income of $703 million last season led all clubs for a ninth year.

England was runaway leader in the league table of nations by net spending in international transfers, FIFA said.

English clubs spent $613 million more than they received, followed by Turkish clubs’ net deficit of $134 million.

Agents and intermediaries got $74 million from English clubs, and took $216 million in total worldwide. That increased by $50 million, or 30 percent, on FIFA’s 2012 research.

Earnings of agents acting for players are not logged by the FIFA transfer system.

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