Sunday, 12 July 2015

It's all about the money, money, money...

I awoke this morning (in Australia, before you ask) to the rather startling news that Raheem Sterling has signed for Manchester City from Liverpool for the princely sum of £49 million. Why I should be startled, I don't know, because ridiculous sums of money like this have been bandied around in the gutter press for some time now. Maybe it's just the reality of seeing that figure in real print right before my eyes:


Staggering, really - not least because if you think about it, Raheem Sterling is now worth the same as 49 Trevor Francis's. Imagine a big squad of 49 players, all of which are clones of Trevor Francis, all wearing the pale blue of Manchester City.

Strangely enough, Francis moved to Man City for £1.2 million in 1981, but that's to over-complicate a metaphor using Francis at the time of his landmark move to Nottingham Forest the year before.

So, Sterling = 49 x Trevor Francis, to use mathematical terms. If you think that's eye-popping, however, here's some other comparisons with record breaking transfers. Raheem Sterling is also worth the same as:

1.5 x Robinho (Real Madrid to Manchester City)
3.3 x Alan Shearer (Blackburn to Newcastle)
6.5 x Dennis Bergkamp (Internazionale to Arsenal)
15.3 x Ian Rush (Liverpool to Juventus)
21.3 x Mark Hughes (Man United to Barcelona)
98 x Kevin Keegan (Liverpool to Hamburg)
297 x Allan Clarke (Leicester to Leeds)
426 x Denis Law (Torino to Man United)

...and so it goes on. But to be fair to Sterling (and that's not a phrase you hear very often), he's not the first to have such comparisons made. If you think about it, when Trevor Francis moved from Birmingham to Nottingham Forest, he was worth the same as:

2 x Kevin Keegan (Liverpool to Hamburg)
5 x Martin Peters (West Ham to Tottenham)
10 x Denis Law (Man City to Torino)
50 x Tommy Lawton (Chelsea to Notts County) it's all a matter of perspective.

Then again, we're missing the economical elephant in the room, namely inflation. How much money would Trevor Francis have been worth if his move to Nottingham Forest had taken place today? The answer: well over £4,500,000 - still well short of Raheem Sterling's signing-on fee.

Here's some other approximate inflation-adjusted landmark signings from down the years:

Len Shackleton (Newcastle to Sunderland, 1948) = £720,000
John Charles (Leeds to Juventus, 1957) = £1,500,000
Alan Ball (Arsenal to Everton, 1971) = £3,100,000
Bob Latchford (Birmingham to Everton, 1974) = £3,800,000
Bryan Robson (West Brom to Man United, 1981) = £5,800,000
Chris Waddle (Tottenham to Marseille, 1987) = £11,200,000
Andy Cole (Newcastle to Man United, 1995) = £12,500,000

So many numbers, so much to analyse... and yet we can still arrive at the same conclusion we had at the start - £49,000,000 is a hell of a lot of money. Obscene, as a matter of fact, though it pains me to say it.

Perhaps the owners of Man City should just buy Greece instead? They'd get more value for their money, and have the satisfaction of qualifying as an entire country for the next European Championships. Tune in next week for another world problem solved by 'yours truly' at The Football Attic.

-- Chris Oakley


  1. I remember my form teacher (who was not in the habit of discussing football) going on an epic rant the morning Paul Gascoigne's sale to Lazio had been made official. "Nobody is worth five million pounds!" she yelled, banging her fist on an overhead projector. "NOBODY!" The reasoning for such ire seemed lost on her bemused audience of thirteen-year-olds, or at least this one. After all, Roberto Baggio had cost 8 million a couple of years earlier. She’s probably retired now so hopefully another classroom of unsuspecting teens was spared a similar outburst this morning. I can only imagine her reaction to Sterling's transfer, who isn't in anywhere near the same class as either of those aforementioned players.

    1. Ha! I think it's fair to say that teachers are particularly sensitive to news stories like this, James! I speak as someone that's married to one... :)