I like to write about what interests me and I can only hope that you like the variety of my interests. This article is about football and money and if either floats you boat, read on.
Professional football all over the world has become big business. It is not unusual now in the UK during the summer transfer window for over a billion STG£££ to change hands. It is not only the fees payed for players that astonish us all but the subsequent salaries these guys get for kicking a ball around a field. Even an average spotty teenage lad who makes it onto his first team is looking at £60,000 A-WEEK …………. FFS!!!
For all that, I have long been a fan of Liverpool FC and have even made the pilgrimage to Anfield. In the last several years they have won very little but they play good exciting football and that’s what I enjoy watching. So I looked at their transfer business to try to understand it all.
In 2011, after an iffy season on the field, the legend that was Fernando Torres was bought from Liverpool by Chelsea for £50 million. The Spaniard joined us in 2007 for a mere £3.5 million. In his prime, he scored all over the place for the club, 85 of them in 212 appearances and was a big part in Liverpool finishing second on the table one year. So to make £46.5M on him after he’d run out of steam was damned good business.
Taking some of that profit, Liverpool bought an unknown striker from Uruguay called Luis Suarez for the princely sum of £15.8M. Suarez went on to petrify defenses for the next three years in a bright red shirt scoring 82 goals in 133 appearances, taking Liverpool second in the table the year before he left. In return for taking him off our reluctant hands, Barcelona handed over £75M, a profit of £59.2M. While with Liverpool, Suarez headed an attack that included Daniel Sturridge, who cost £12M from Chelsea in 2013, and Sterling who cost £6M. Sturridge is currently out on loan but Sterling was sold to Man. City in 2015 for £44M, a profit of £38M on that arrogant flyer.
Even better was the business done for a lad called Philippe Coutinho, (41 goals in 152 appearances). This little known young Brazilian was brought to Anfield for £3.9M in 2012. Five years later in 2017 he was reluctantly sold to Barcelona for £120M, a profit of £116M on one player alone. Jurgen Klopp had replaced the front three of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling with Mane, (£34M – 41 goals in 121 games), Firmino, (£25M – 36 goals in 101 games) and Salah, (£35M – 45 goals in 51 games). So by keeping Sturridge on the books but selling Suarez and Sterling, the club made a profit of £98M. You will notice that the new front three only cost £94M combined so the sale of Suarez and Sterling bought Mane, Firmino and Salah with £4M to spare. Indeed the back up front three of Ings, Solanke and Woodburn cost a mere £3M between them. Compare that to the single sale of Neymar from Barcelona to P.S.G. for £198M in 2017. Neymar alone cost £106M more than all of Liverpool’s current free-scoring front three put together!!
Liverpool have six mid-fielders to choose from, all of them who either play or have played for their countries. Henderson, Milner, Lallana, Oxlade Chamberlain, Emre Can and Wijnaldum cost a combined total of £61.74M. To put that in perspective for you, Manchester United paid £105M to Juve for one midfielder called Paul Pogba in 2016.
The club has nine backs to pick from in any week costing a combined total of £145.5M. Virgil Van Dijk alone is responsible for £84.5M of that, meaning the other eight cost only £61M. The lad between the sticks currently, Karius, came to the club for £4.7M and his back up Mignolet on the bench was £9M.
Since 2014 there have been 14 clubs consistently playing in the Premiership so I looked at their transfer records over the period 2014 to 2018 to compare them with Liverpool. Manchester City followed by United were the big spenders so it is no mistake with two or three games to go that they are first and second on the table. City bought £693M in talent and sold £197M in return, making a transfer loss of £496M over four years. United bought £596M and sold £179M, losing £417M in the process. But Liverpool bought £443M and sold £425M while doing so, thus losing a mere £18M in transfers over four years and yet they are only five points behind United in third place. That is what I call good business.
Spurs in fourth place spent £252M and received £202M so they dropped £50M. Behind them the wealthy Chelsea in fifth spent £565M and took in £446M, a loss of £119M. Then there is sixth placed Arsenal on a spend of £315M with sales of £149M and a loss of £166M. Up the road from Liverpool, Everton bought £358M worth of players, sold £193 million so they lost £165M and lie 8th in the league. Crystal Palace lost £126M and lie 11th. Leicester with Vardy lost £113M and lie below Everton in ninth place and even West Ham managed to lose £86M to end in 15th just above the drop zone. Only Swansea, (17th) and Southampton, (18th) managed to make profits of £27M and £71M respectively during the last four years of transfer business.
Here I’ll show you four different tables.
Position in the league with two/three games left.
1. Man City – 93pts
2. Man Utd – 77pts
3. Liverpool – 72pts
4. Spurs – 71pts
5. Chelsea – 66pts
Position in terms of spending from 2014 to 2018.
1. Man City – £693M
2. Man Utd – £596
3. Chelsea – £565M
4. Liverpool – £443M
5. Arsenal – £315M
The position in terms of sales though tells a different story.
1st. Chelsea – £446M
2nd. Liverpool – £443M
3rd. Southampton – £296M
4th. Spurs – £202M
5th. Everton – £193M
However, The position in terms of profits on purchases and sales is different again.
1st – Southampton +£71M
2nd – Swansea +£27M
3rd – Liverpool -£18M
4th – Spurs -£50M
5th – Stoke -£65M
What interests me here is that only Liverpool appears in all four tables. This indicates that they have the overall balance right in the long run.
The statistics on the field this season tell their own story. Manchester City, the runaway winners have played 35 games, won 30 of them and only lost two. Liverpool only won 20 games. But City only lost 2 games while Liverpool only lost 4. However Man. City only drew 3 games thus dropping 9 points in the process but Liverpool drew 12 games, dropping 24 points by doing so. Only Brighton (14th) and Southampton (18th) have drawn more times than Liverpool this season. In terms of goals scored, Man. City and Liverpool are first and second. It is the same story with goal difference.
In the City of Liverpool there is great rivalry between the red and blue halves. So compared to 8th placed Everton, 3rd placed Liverpool have won seven more games, lost ten fewer and drew three more than Everton. they scored 38 more goals than them, conceded 17 fewer, and are 24 better off on goal difference. That’s why Liverpool have 24 points more than a disappointing Everton.
So the story of Liverpool this season is that of a squad of hard working players who at the start of the season, you couldn’t imagine Manchester United being interested in any of them, with the exception of Coutinho and he was sold anyway. They were widely criticized back in August last year for not having a proper striker, never mind two of them. Instead they had two wingers in Salah & Mane and a weird mix of a player in Firmino who was not a proven goal scorer. A mid-field of Henderson, Lallana and Milner was laughed at, the left back Moreno was a calamity while the two centre-mids of Lovren & Matip were seen as an open invitation to score goals against. Mignolet in goal was a shaky joke and the idea of bringing on the seventeen year old Trent Alexander at right back was seen as asking for trouble.
I suppose it is the detailed stats that really annoy me when it comes to Manchester United versus Liverpool. Understandably, Man. City in first place have the best stats but Liverpool in third have better stats than second place Utd. Liverpool have a better goals per game average (2.2 Vs 1.9), have better overall possession at 57% versus Utd 53.6%. Their pass accuracy is identical at 83.5% but Liverpool manage more shots per game at 16.8 Vs 13.5. We tackle more, (i.e.; work harder), at 17.1 Vs 14.7 and our discipline record is far better. Though both teams have had one player sent off so far this season, Liverpool got only 42 yellow cards Vs 59 for Utd. But United only drew 5 games to Liverpool’s 12, (10 dropped points versus 24). Therefore United are 5 points ahead with only 6 points left for us to play for. United have two away games to Brighton (14th) and West Ham (15th) and one more home game against Watford (13th) while Liverpool have Chelsea (5th) away and Brighton (14th) at home in their last match. I can’t see United losing their three games even if Liverpool win their two.
More worryingly, Spurs have West Brom (20th) away and then Newcastle (10th) and Leicester (9th) at home so they have a game in hand over Liverpool and 9 points to play for. Chelsea too have a game in hand over Liverpool. They play Liverpool at Stamford Bridge next Sunday with Huddersfield (16th) away after that and then finishing away at Newcastle (10th). Worst case scenario then, Liverpool lose at Chelsea and Brighton and finish on 72 points. Spurs win their last three games picking up 9 points and finishing third on 80 points Chelsea too win their next three games finishing the season on 75 points and taking fourth place and a Champion’s League slot next year. Man. City (1st) have Huddersfield (16th) and Brighton (14th) at home before going to Southampton (18th) for their last game so that looks like 9 points in the bag for a final tally of 102 points for the season. If so, the season end table would look like this:
Manchester City 102 Pts 1st
Manchester Utd 86 Pts 2nd
Spurs 80 Pts 3rd
Chelsea 75 Pts 4th
Liverpool 71 Pts 5th
That top four qualify for Champions League next season with fourth place having to go through play-offs. If that is the case then Liverpool would have to beat Roma in Rome tomorrow night to have a crack at Real Madrid in the Champions League Final later this month. If they win both, they automatically qualify next year. Meanwhile Arsenal is still battling bravely to win the Europa Cup and if they do, they too would qualify for Champions League in the 2018/2019 season. You could see six British teams in Europe on 2019, or as little as three.
It has been a story of dropped points for Liverpool in the last few weeks. On March 3rd we lost 2/1 at Old Trafford when we should have won and that was three points more for Utd and three points less for us. We could beat Man City twice at the start of April only to draw with a very mediocre Everton three days later. We even drew with bottom of the table team West Brom on 21st April before drawing nil all with a dreadful mundane Stoke outfit last week. Indeed, way back in January we were beaten by an average Swansea team before going down to that same bottom of the table team West Brom, (3/2) at home. It is all very frustrating and unbelievable given the highs of the season so far.
Perhaps Liverpool will win their next two matches and pick up a maximum of 6 points to bring the season’s tally to 78 points. If they do then Chelsea can only get 72 points and Liverpool would end up fourth on the table. In fact both Newcastle and Leicester are capable of taking points from Spurs and technically, Liverpool could still take third place.
I started with money so I’ll end with it too. The prize money pool for the 2017-18 Champions League season is around €1.3 billion and will be distributed among Champions League participants from qualifying rounds to the final. The breakdown is as follows:
Round of 16 €6 million each for 16 teams – €6M for Liverpool
Quarter Finals €6.5 million each for 8 teams – €6.5M for us
Semifinals €7.5 million each for 4 teams – €7.5M in the bag.
And still to play for:
Runner Ups €11 million
Final €15.5 million
Potential Total Winner of 2017-18 champions league can earn between €54m to €57.2m from “Fixed Amount” pot. Plus Market pool money which can easily elevate total earnings of winners from England, Spain, Germay or Italy around €100 million (prize money + market pool). But that’s peanuts by comparison to the ridiculous TV money being thrown around. The domestic TV money pot stands at £1.8 billion split as follows:
50% divided equally (Thats around £38 million each for all 20 clubs)
25% Merit based: divided according to final league position in 2017-18 season (Thats around £2 million for 20th place team rising higher by £2m for every position all the way to £40 million for the champiosn)
25% is divided as facility fee: to all clubs depending on how many times teams match was shown live, (thats around £1.23 million for every live game or guaranteed £12.3m if a team only had 10 or less live matches).
Then there’s the match day take. Anfield can seat 54,000 souls any day or night and match day and tickets range from £9.00 to £59.00. Team and club merchandise is huge business for Liverpool all over the world. Add commercial sponsorships measured in millions and you can see how it all stacks up. Assets aside, Liverpool reported overall revenue of £364M for the 2016/2017 season and this year will be even higher. It is a financially stable, sustainable and growing football club with an excellent manager on and off the field. A midfield wizard called Naby Keita has already been bought for next season to replace Coutihno and he’s due at Anfield next month. Mane and Firmino have extended their contracts and Salah is expected to be offered a new package to stay. The scouts are sniffing around a few more pieces of the puzzle so that we can mount a proper challenge to Man. City next season.
But it’s all about the money!