The transfer market for non-big five clubs: The case of the Swiss Super League

  • Zahid Mustafi University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Emmanuel Bayle University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Mickael Terrien University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Keywords: professionalisation, commercialisation, governance, service provision



The objective of this research is to study the strategies of Swiss first division clubs in the transfer market. In a context where the revenues of the big 5 clubs (before Covid-19) keep increasing (especially TV rights), the weak financial capacities of the non-big 5 clubs, especially in terms of their low revenues from media rights, push them to devise different strategies. Given the profiles of the clubs, how do they organise their strategy on the transfer market - T - (purchase-sale)? We seek to answer the following questions: What is the importance of transfers on the economic model of Swiss first division clubs? What share of their budget do they represent?


Market purchases/sales (from 2015 to 2020) define our T (Transfers). We therefore seek to understand the strategy of Swiss clubs in the transfer market from a purely economic point of view (we do not take into account the sporting aspect) and to see what profits Swiss clubs make thanks to T. We then compare, season by season and club by club, the results obtained on the transfer market in relation to the clubs’ budget. We supplement this quantitative data with qualitative interviews with scouting managers from 8 Super League clubs in order to understand the professionalization of Swiss clubs in this area. We carried out an empirical data processing - k-means - to propose a typology of the 12 Super League clubs according to their role in the transfer market and the importance of the T compared to their budget.


  • Cluster 1 - The low importance of T: The T represents a very small part of the clubs’ budget in this cluster. Transfers have a very low importance here.
  • Cluster 2 - Singularity of FC Basel: FC Basel is alone in this cluster with sales and purchases well above the other clubs.
  • Cluster 3 - Confirmed importance of the T on sales: Clubs in this cluster are close to the cluster number 2. Sales are here very important for clubs.
  • Cluster 4 - A balance of the T between purchases and sales: The purchases and sales are balanced. Clubs in this cluster sell and spend just as much to strengthen themselves.

Discussion - Conclusion

We can see that when a team succeeds in establishing itself in the Super League with stable revenues, it can hope to make purchases on the transfer market thanks to sponsorship or ticketing, which allow it to increase its budget. And when a team manages to qualify for European competitions, its strategy can be diversified and we can see teams making more substantial purchases. Moreover a club can move from one cluster to another quickly. The professionalisation of the scouting of young players also plays a very big role and the resources and professional skills of each club in this area can be very important.

How to Cite
Mustafi, Z., Bayle, E., & Terrien, M. (2023). The transfer market for non-big five clubs: The case of the Swiss Super League. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 8(2), 032.