Way back on 27th February 2011, this blog floated a new measure of economic well-being – or, more accurately, muscle: the European Transfer Ratio or ETR. This measurement – which is essentially one of extreme discretionary spending – was given the moniker of the Ibričić index after the chunky and ingenious Bosnia and Herzegovina national team midfielder whose January 2011 transfer from Hajduk Split to Lokomotiv Moscow (and pointedly not a club in Western Europe) graphically illustrated the rapid power shifts taking place within the European game.
Since Q1 2011, the ETR has come into its own as the economic fortunes of the continent alter faster than most people can keep up with: when in early September 2012 FC Zenit Saint Petersburg splurged an earth-shattering combined fee of £64m to sign the immensely likeable Brazilian international striker Hulk and the broadly violent Belgian hatchet-man Axel Witsel, it sent a signal like almost no other that Russia is the emerging force in European club football and is prepared to deploy miraculous levels of cash to cement this position.
Events since the inception of the ETR have also pointed to the decline in the stock of heavily-indebted EU nations: once all-conquering AC Milan have effectively relegated themselves from the elite of European football by selling the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva, while Spain’s total summer 2012 transfer spend of €116m is less than 21.5% of the 2007 equivalent of €541m, a staggering decline even in the current macroeconomic context.
The sudden increase in the levels of funding available to Chinese Super League – a competition now vaunting current international players from Colombia, Nigeria, Zambia and Uzbekistan – also confirms that the ETR needs to spawn the sister index GTR (Global Transfer Ratio): multi-billion dollar entities such as the Evergrande Real Estate Group, owners of Guangzhou Evergrande, are going to reflect the increasingly brash and perhaps supremely confident participation in the global economy of relatively strong players.