Football Transfers. From 1905 to 2023


It’s fair to say that football transfers have changed quite a bit recently. Average players can now go for £40 million and at the top end of the scale, the world record fee was smashed when Neymar was bought for £198 million by PSG in 2017. With Chelsea spending approximately $200m this January transfer window which is soon to close, it shows there is so much money going around football.

So we’re going to look back at simpler days when world-class footballers were cheaper and you could get loads more for your money.

Alf Common – 1905 transfer to Middlesbrough (£1000) The first player to break the £1000 barrier was Centre Forward Alf Common. He broke the world record transfer fee twice during his career and scored 128 goals in 385 appearances. After football, Common retired and ran pubs in Darlington until 1943. £1000 was a huge amount in 1905 and would be equivalent to £120,000 now. At roughly the same time, ish, £1000 would have bought you one of Henry Fords first cars or 50,000 pints of beer. 

Trevor Francis 1979 signs to Nottingham Forest (£1,000,000). The first million-pound player transfer occurred in 1979 when Brian Clough signed Trevor Francis from Birmingham City. Reportedly Clough wanted to buy him for £999,000 as he thought to be the first million-pound footballer would go to Francis’s head. It was, in the end, good value for money, as Francis scored the goal that would give Forest the European Cup in 1979. A million pounds was a staggering sum in 1979, at a time when the yearly wage was around £6000 pounds and the average house cost £30,000

Roberto Baggio signs for Juventus in 1990 (£8 million). After Baggio moved from Fiorentina to Juventus riots broke out in Florence. At a time when Italian football was the at its peak, one of its best players had moved to Fiorentina’s rivals. Baggio was a revelation for Juventus however, lifting three trophies including the Uefa Cup. The eye-watering transfer did raise a few heads though, as at the time a litre of fuel was on average 47p and the average price of a car was £9,000.

Alan Shearer 1996 signs for Newcastle (£15 million). In 1996 Shearer signed for his boyhood club Newcastle for a then world-record fee of £15 million. Shearer was in unbelievable form for his first season, winning the Premier League golden boot in his first season. 1996 saw the release of Toy Story and Trainspotting, Tamagotchis and the formation of the Spice Girls. At the time the average price of a house was £70,000, the average yearly wage was £13,000 and the weekly food shop was just £10.00!

Whilst a lot has changed outside of football, including regrettably the demise of the 2 pence pint, on the pitch the game and its financial outlays have proportionally, more or less anyway, stayed the same for a hundred years.  

Any big transfer news happening at your DADS v DADS sessions ? Maybe someone swapping a Monday for a Thursday night because the kids play football Mondays now ? Maybe someone has moved town and we have a DADS v DADS session there, big money stuff 😁👍⚽.


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