Paying record fees for players: does it really help?

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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.


In 1992 the transfer record for a transfer involving a British club was £5.5m for Paul Gascoigne going from Tottenham to Lazio.  As a result Channel 4 in the UK started covering Italian football – meaning mostly Lazio.  The record transfer paid by a British club was also broken that year but it was far, far smaller.  As we note below on 27 July 1992 Blackburn broke the British transfer record paying £3.3m to Southampton for Alan Shearer, who had scored 23 goals in 118 league games thus far.

Although it looked strange at the time, it did help bring Blackburn the title, although they were relegated to the second tier a few seasons later.   Manchester Utd broke the English record by paying £7m in January 1995 for Andy Cole, before Arsenal pipped that the following June with £7.5m for Dennis Bergkamp from Inter.  By 1996 the record was up to £15m with Shearer going from Blackburn to Newcastle for £15m.  Three years later Anelka went from Arsenal to Real Madrid for £22.5m – a profit of around £19m.  It is said Mr Wenger opted to have the money used to pay for the new training centre rather than on buying new players.

At the moment the most paid by a British club is £89m for Pogba.  The world record is £105m paid by Barcelona for Courtinho.  Does that make Liverpool a selling club?  Barcelona are now in deep financial trouble, while Liverpool who sold them Courtinho have just won the League.

Here are the anniversaries.

27 July 1913: Albert Beasley born.  Born in Stourbridge, he began his career as playing for local sides in Kidderminster, before joining Stourbridge. In 1931, while still only seventeen he was signed for £550 by Herbert Chapman for Arsenal

27 July 1935: Billy McCullough born.  He played initially for Portadown and then in 1958 was signed by Arsenal being one of the first players signed by George Swindin.

27 July 1971: John Matthews joined as an apprentice.  He became a professional in 1973 and then made his first appearance in the league in the opening match of the 1975/6 season.

27 July 1992: Blackburn broke the British transfer record paying £3.3m to Southampton for Alan Shearer, who had scored 23 goals in 118 league games thus far.   The move followed the takeover of Blackburn by Jack Walker, and set the scene for ever richer men put ever more money into winning the league.  Three years later Blackburn were relegated, by 2017 they were in League One.

27 July 2000: Brian McGovern joined Norwich City.  He only played one league match for Arsenal, but played five on loan to QPR.  He played 21 for Norwich in the next two years before playing briefly for Peterborough and then moving back to Ireland.

27 July 2002: Arsenal’s friendly against Rapid Vienna in Austria abandoned after rioting among local fans.  The problem was entirely focused on the directors of the Viennese club which had not won the league since 1996 and finished 8th the previous season.

27 July 2005: FC Utrecht 0 Arsenal 3 (Pires, Reyes, Henry).  It was the fourth of six pre-season games in which we won every game.

27 July 2006: The old Highbury clock was erected onto the wall of the Emirates Stadium.  The new clock inside the ground, based on the design of the original clock of Highbury was unveiled in 2010.  

27 July 2009: Szombathelvi Haladas (Austria) 0 Arsenal 5 (Bendtner 2, Eduardo 2, Van Persie).  One of seven pre-season games that summer.

27 July 2010: SC Neusiedl 0 Arsenal 4 (Walcott, Emmanuel Thomas, Chamakh, Vela).  This was one of six pre-season games, of which the last was Legia Warsaw 5 Arsenal 6

27 July 2012: Arsenal lost a pre-season game against Man City as some supporters became anxious about the club’s direction following the departure of Robin van Persie and Alex Song.  It was one of 12 pre-season matches that summer.

27 July 2014: Arsenal announced the signing of David Ospina from Nice for a fee quoted in the press of around £3m, with Ospina replacing Fabianski.  By early 2015 Ospina had become first choice keeper. 

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