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The Premier League could break its £1.17 billion ($1.5 billion) summer spending record this summer as clubs scramble to sign the world’s top talent.
But former Manchester City technical director Mike Rigg thinks English football will be better off “when the money runs out.”
There’s not much chance of that happening anytime soon, particularly with a record £5.14 billion in TV money being injected into the Premier League, but Rigg said football would benefit from a greater focus on youth development.
“In many ways finances are obscene and out of control,” Rigg told Business Insider. “Look at the way fans relish spending millions of pounds on football players. Other clubs relish building that player. In Germany for instance, they create millionaires. In England, we buy them.”
Rigg was no stranger to eye-catching deals at Manchester City. He signed the likes of Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure for the club. City has been the Premier League’s top spender since 2012/13, according to the Daily Mail, splashing out £565.65 million on players.
But Rigg was also at City when plans were drawn up for its £200 million City Football Academy, which has state of the art facilities for young players. He was also previously the Welsh Football Association’s regional development officer and helped lay the groundwork for the UEFA pro licensing courses.
“The Premier League and the academy systems do a good job in creating players but because we are so rich we are in a position where we can buy a player for £100 million,” Rigg said.
“To some degree, the best thing to happen to football in this country will be when the money runs out. We can then focus on developing players and nurturing talent again.”
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He highlighted the success of England’s youth teams as an example. The Under-17 side were finalists at the 2017 UEFA European Championships, while the Under-20s won the Toulon Tournament in June. The Under-21s are currently striving for success in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
But some of the England stars of these tournaments struggle for game time at their respective clubs. Rigg said “it is important that the pathway to play [at club level] is open.” He added: “When we have so much finances in our system, developing players becomes less of a focus.”