Progression of British football transfer fee record

Bryan Robson was the subject of a record transfer in 1981.

The progression of the British football transfer fee record tracks the increases in the record for the highest transfer fee paid or received by British association football clubs. A transfer fee is the sum of money paid by one club to purchase the contract, and therefore the playing services, of a professional footballer. Fees are not generally formally disclosed by the clubs involved, and discrepancies can occur in figures quoted in the press. Trevor Francis, for example, is regarded as Britain's first £1m player but was officially transferred for £975,000. The generally reported figure of £1,180,000 included Value Added Tax, fees to the Football League and Francis' signing fee.[1] Discrepancies may also occur due to deals which involve additional sums to be paid at a later date after a player has made a certain number of appearances, joint fees for two or more players, or deals in which one player is exchanged for a sum of money plus another player.

The first ever three-figure transfer fee was the £100 paid by Aston Villa in 1893 for Willie Groves. Eleven years later, Alf Common joined Middlesbrough for the first ever four-figure fee, a sum which caused a national sensation and outrage amongst the football authorities.[2] The £5,000 mark was first reached in 1922 when Falkirk paid that amount for West Ham United's Syd Puddefoot, and six years later Arsenal paid the first ever £10,000 fee to acquire David Jack of Bolton Wanderers. After the Second World War, the spending power of clubs in mainland Europe outstripped that of British clubs for the first time, resulting in several substantial jumps in the transfer record. John Charles became the first British player to command a fee of £50,000 when he joined Juventus in 1957, and four years later Denis Law joined Torino in the first £100,000 transaction involving a British club.

The 1970s saw a rapid increase in transfer fees. Martin Peters became the first £200,000 player in 1970, but by 1977 Kevin Keegan's move to West Germany's Hamburger SV had taken the record to £500,000. In January 1979 David Mills became the first player to be purchased for £500,000 by a British club, but just one month later Nottingham Forest paid twice that amount to acquire Birmingham City's Trevor Francis. In 1981 Bryan Robson cost Manchester United £1,500,000, but fees paid by British clubs lagged behind those paid by clubs in Italy, France and Spain to take British players abroad until 1995, when Manchester United paid Newcastle United £7,000,000 for Andy Cole. The fees paid by the Premier League's top clubs began to increase at a rapid rate, with Alan Shearer commanding the first £15,000,000 fee in 1996, and the new millennium heralding the first £30,000,000 transfer, although sources differ as to whether this barrier was broken by Rio Ferdinand's move to Manchester United in 2002 or Andriy Shevchenko's transfer to Chelsea four years later.

On 1 September 2008, Manchester City agreed a reported £32,500,000 fee for Robinho,[3] which remained the record amount paid by a British club until 31 January 2011, when Liverpool paid £35,000,000 for Andy Carroll from Newcastle United, which was also a new record amount paid for a British player. A few hours later, the record amount paid by a British club was broken again when Chelsea paid £50,000,000 for Fernando Torres from Liverpool.

On 11 June 2009, Manchester United announced that they had accepted an £80,000,000 bid from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo. The transfer was completed on 1 July 2009, setting not only a new British transfer record, but also a new world record (either in pounds or euros).[4] In turn, that record was broken on 1 September 2013 when Real announced that their £85.3 million (€100 million) purchase of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur had been completed. [5] This record was broken on 8th August, when Manchester United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus for a fee of £89 million.

Record progression

Date Player From To Fee Notes
1893 Scotland Groves, WillieWillie Groves England West Bromwich Albion England Aston Villa £100 [6]
January 1904 Scotland McCombie, AndyAndy McCombie England Sunderland England Newcastle United £700 [7]
February 1905 England Common, AlfAlf Common England Sunderland England Middlesbrough £1,000 [8]
February 1911 England Simpson, JohnJohn Simpson Scotland Falkirk England Blackburn Rovers £1,800 [9]
November 1913 England Utley, GeorgeGeorge Utley England Barnsley England Sheffield United £2,000 [10]
February 1914 England Dawson, PercyPercy Dawson Scotland Heart of Midlothian England Blackburn Rovers £2,500 [11]
February 1922 England Puddefoot, SydSyd Puddefoot England West Ham United Scotland Falkirk £5,000 [8]
March 1922 England Cresswell, WarneyWarney Cresswell England South Shields England Sunderland £5,500 [8]
December 1925 England Kelly, BobBob Kelly England Burnley England Sunderland £6,500 [8]
October 1928 England Jack, DavidDavid Jack England Bolton Wanderers England Arsenal £10,890 [12]
March 1938 Wales Jones, BrynBryn Jones England Wolverhampton Wanderers England Arsenal £14,500 [8]
September 1947 Scotland Steel, BillyBilly Steel Scotland Morton England Derby County £15,500 [13]
November 1947 England Lawton, TommyTommy Lawton England Chelsea England Notts County £20,000 [14][15]
February 1948 England Shackleton, LenLen Shackleton England Newcastle United England Sunderland £20,500 [16][17]
February 1949 England Morris, JohnnyJohnny Morris England Manchester United England Derby County £24,000 [8]
December 1949 England Quigley, EddieEddie Quigley England Sheffield Wednesday England Preston North End £26,500 [8]
October 1950 Wales Ford, TrevorTrevor Ford England Aston Villa England Sunderland £30,000 [18]
March 1951 England Sewell, JackieJackie Sewell England Notts County England Sheffield Wednesday £34,500 [18]
July 1955 Italy Firmani, EddieEddie Firmani England Charlton Athletic Italy Sampdoria £35,000 [18]
April 1957 Wales Charles, JohnJohn Charles England Leeds United Italy Juventus £65,000 [18]
June 1961 Scotland Law, DenisDenis Law England Manchester City Italy Torino £100,000 [18]
July 1962 Scotland Law, DenisDenis Law Italy Torino England Manchester United £115,000 [18]
June 1968 England Clarke, AllanAllan Clarke England Fulham England Leicester City £150,000 [18]
June 1969 England Clarke, AllanAllan Clarke England Leicester City England Leeds United £165,000 [18]
March 1970 England Peters, MartinMartin Peters England West Ham United England Tottenham Hotspur £200,000 [18]
December 1971 England Ball, AlanAlan Ball England Everton England Arsenal £220,000 [18]
August 1972 England Nish, DavidDavid Nish England Leicester City England Derby County £225,000 [19]
February 1974 England Latchford, BobBob Latchford England Birmingham City England Everton £350,000 [20]
June 1977 England Keegan, KevinKevin Keegan England Liverpool Germany Hamburg £500,000 [21]
January 1979 England Mills, DavidDavid Mills England Middlesbrough England West Bromwich Albion £516,000 [21]
February 1979 England Francis, TrevorTrevor Francis England Birmingham City England Nottingham Forest £1,180,000 [18]
September 1979 England Daley, SteveSteve Daley England Wolverhampton Wanderers England Manchester City £1,450,000 [18]
September 1979 Scotland Gray, AndyAndy Gray England Aston Villa England Wolverhampton Wanderers £1,469,000 [18]
October 1981 England Robson, BryanBryan Robson England West Bromwich Albion England Manchester United £1,500,000 [18]
May 1984 England Wilkins, RayRay Wilkins England Manchester United Italy Milan £1,500,000 [18]
May 1986 Wales Hughes, MarkMark Hughes England Manchester United Spain Barcelona £2,300,000 [18]
June 1987 Wales Rush, IanIan Rush England Liverpool Italy Juventus £3,200,000 [18]
July 1989 England Waddle, ChrisChris Waddle England Tottenham Hotspur France Marseille £4,250,000 [18]
July 1991 England Platt, DavidDavid Platt England Aston Villa Italy Bari £5,500,000 [18]
August 1991 England Steven, TrevorTrevor Steven Scotland Rangers France Olympique de Marseille £5,500,000 [22]
June 1992 England Gascoigne, PaulPaul Gascoigne England Tottenham Hotspur Italy Lazio £5,500,000 [18]
January 1995 England Cole, AndyAndy Cole England Newcastle United England Manchester United £7,000,000 [23]
June 1995 Netherlands Bergkamp, DennisDennis Bergkamp Italy Internazionale England Arsenal £7,500,000 [18]
June 1995 England Collymore, StanStan Collymore England Nottingham Forest England Liverpool £8,500,000 [24]
July 1996 England Shearer, AlanAlan Shearer England Blackburn Rovers England Newcastle United £15,000,000 [25]
August 1999 France Anelka, NicolasNicolas Anelka England Arsenal Spain Real Madrid £22,500,000 [18]
July 2001 Argentina Verón, Juan SebastiánJuan Sebastián Verón Italy Lazio England Manchester United £28,100,000 [26]
July 2002 England Ferdinand, RioRio Ferdinand England Leeds United England Manchester United £29,100,000 [27][28]
July 2006 Ukraine Shevchenko, AndriyAndriy Shevchenko Italy Milan England Chelsea £30,800,000[29]
September 2008 Brazil Robinho Spain Real Madrid England Manchester City £32,500,000[30]
July 2009 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo England Manchester United Spain Real Madrid £80,000,000[4]
September 2013 Wales Gareth Bale England Tottenham Hotspur Spain Real Madrid £85,300,000[31]
July 2016 France Paul Pogba Italy Juventus England Manchester United £89,700,000

See also


  1. Simon Briggs (2009-02-09). "The day Trevor Francis broke football's £1m mark". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  2. Davies, Hunter (2003). Boots, Balls and Haircuts: An Illustrated History of Football from Then to Now. Cassell Illustrated. p. 75. ISBN 1-84403-261-2.
  3. "Manchester City did not pay £47 million for Carlos Tevez, says Kia Joorabchian". London: 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  4. 1 2 "Ronaldo completes £80m Real move". BBC Sport. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  5. "Bale completes Real Madrid move". BBC Sport. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  6. "Groves leads the droves to Villa". London: The Independent. 1998-01-24. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  7. Helen Rae (2006-10-18). "Toon nostalgia on the cards for fans". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Barnes (2007), p. 309.
  9. "Jock Simpson: Blackburn Rovers: Biography".
  10. Glenn Moore; James Mariner (2008-04-05). "Their last FA Cup final ... the glorious pasts of this year's four semi-finalists". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  11. "Tynecastle Stadium: 1892–1914". Heart of Midlothian F.C. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  12. "Wembley Stadium 84 years on". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  13. "The History Of Derby County Football Club". Derby County F.C. 2011-11-19. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  14. Phil Shaw (1996-11-07). "Football: Tommy Lawton dies at age of 77". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  15. Ivan Ponting (1996-11-07). "Obituary: Tommy Lawton". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  16. Brian Glanville (2000-11-29). "Len Shackleton". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  17. Louise Taylor (2011-02-18). "The five non-league teams to reach FA Cup fifth round before Crawley". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Barnes (2007), p. 310.
  19. Jonathan Stevenson and Dan Warren (2007-01-26). "Were you there...when the Rams beat the Gas?". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  20. James Corbett (2006-03-05). "Bob Latchford". The Observer. London. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  21. 1 2 Albert Sewell (2002-03-22). "Ask Albert - Number 59". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  22. "Whatever happened to Trevor Steven?". Football Transfer Tavern. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  23. "Cole's fresh challenge". BBC. 2001-12-29. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  24. "Collymore quits football". BBC. 2001-03-07. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  25. "Injury forces Shearer retirement". BBC. 2006-04-22. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  26. "Veron seals £28.1m Man Utd move". BBC. 2001-07-12. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  27. Stuart Roach (2003-07-22). "Duff is worlds apart". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  28. Ferdinand's fee was also quoted as £30m (BBC), with the potential to rise to £33.3m based on additional clauses (BBC).
  29. "Chelsea deny Shevchenko reports". BBC. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  30. "Man City beat Chelsea to Robinho". BBC. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  31. Jeremy, Wilson (2 September 2013). "Gareth Bale joins Real Madrid from Tottenham for a world record fee of £86m". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2015.


  • Barnes, Stuart (2007). News of the World Football Annual 2007/2008. Invincible Press. ISBN 978-0-00-725555-9. 
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