Worldwide transfer spending fell by more than one-third in the first six months of the year, FIFA's mid-year review of the international market has revealed.
The downturn, caused by the global financial crisis and - to a far smaller degree - the impact of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, has seen a fall in total payments between clubs in transfer and loan fees of $294 million (£190 million) to $576 million, a decrease of 34% on the same period last year.
"This could suggest that the effects of the global recession - for instance, distressed corporate sponsors, restrictive bank lending policies and reduced overdraft facilities for clubs - are being felt in the international football transfer market," the document says.
"A further factor may be the high concentration of wealth in a relatively small number of associations; any reduction in spending in those few associations could have a disproportionately high impact on aggregate transfer fees worldwide.
"Finally, given the share of the European transfer market, the efforts of those clubs to bring themselves in line with the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations before the onset of sanctions for indebted clubs may contribute to a fall-off in transfer compensation rates."
The data showed that the biggest-spending country in the first six months was Russia, where $64.39 million was lavished on transfers. English clubs invested $55.43 million but brought in $58.83 million through sales.
A total of 4,973 transfers were completed during the time being analysed. There were 708 involving Brazilian clubs – the highest total – with English clubs involved in the second-highest number (326).