Entering The Football League: Does Spending Big Guarantee Success?

Promotion to the Premier League brings about a considerable increase in spending to avoid relegation, but is it a similar story for those promoted into the bottom tier of the Football League from the National League.

2019 National League Play-Off champions Salford City have reached the Football League with considerable financial backing and are expected to spend again in order to continue their rise up the football pyramid in 2019-20, but does spending big on transfers guarantee a successful adjustment to league football?

Salford City players and staff celebrate promotion at Wembley after beating AFC Fylde 3-0

Since 2010, only Forest Green and Cambridge United have relied solely on loan signings and free transfers following promotion and, perhaps as a result, have the lowest final league positions of the nine clubs promoted via the National League play-offs.

In contrast, Bristol Rovers spent £135,000 in 2015-16 on their way to a second successive promotion.

Spending of National League Play-Off winners since 2010

Generally, those spending more following play-off glory have spent a majority of their history in the Football League and their transfer business perhaps matches their ambitions.

Tranmere Rovers and Grimsby Town spent over £500,000 between them in 2018-19 and 2016-17 respectively, having spent a combined 193 years within the Football League.

Forest Green, though, had never played above the National League prior to 2017 and operate on a more modest budget, hence their lower spending.

Statistics suggest that the clubs spending more money, achieve a higher league position the next season, although, the side that has finished the highest since 2010 did not spend the most money on new players.

Salford City manager Graham Alexander on the club’s summer transfer plans

Only time will tell if Salford’s level of investment this summer will breed further success as they make their bow in the Football League.

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