Rafa Or Fergie: Who Spends More In The Transfer Market


In March 2009, Rafa Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson got into a war of words about how much money they had spent in the transfer market.

“They [Liverpool] are well ahead of us in spending in the last five years,” Ferguson, the United manager, said, insisting that Liverpool had outspent United by £24 million during Benítez’s 5½-year tenure.

“Check the figures,” Benítez said.

So, we decided to heed Rafa’s advice and took a look at the numbers thanks to the help of football web site, Transfer League. The findings were quite revealing.

Let’s look at the numbers since the Premier League was founded in the 1992-93 season up until the end of the 2008-2009 season:


The table is ranked from the highest to the lowest by net spend — taking into consideration the amount of money the club has spent minus the amount of money the club has received from transfer sales.

No surprise, but Chelsea is top of the list having spent more than half a billion pounds — approximately £147 million more than the closest big spender Manchester United, who spent £391 million since 1992. The Red Devils spent more than Liverpool but, importantly, generated more money for the club in players sold. Liverpool, by netting £2 million more than Manchester United, finished in second place.

Of the clubs featured in the above chart, West Ham United is the only one to generate a profit in the transfer market earning the club £24 million over 17 years.

More importantly, let’s take a look at the 2004-2009 season to see how Rafael Benitez and Fergie did. Remember Benitez became Liverpool manager in 2004.


As you can see, Chelsea leads the pack in terms of net spend — just under a quarter of a billion dollars. Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool, meanwhile, spent approximately £40 million more than Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. Based on the number of trophies either club has won since 2004, Manchester United is the obvious winner and have spent less money to boot.

Liverpool have earned more money from transfer sales than Manchester United during these past five years. But note that the above figures do not include the $131 million transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

Interestingly, Tottenham Hotspur have spent more than Liverpool and Manchester United during the past five years. And to think they were perilously close to relegation under Juande Ramos at one point this past season.

While West Ham United earned a profit from 1992 to 2009 in the transfer market, they haven’t earned a profit between 2004 and 2009. That badge of honour goes to Blackburn Rovers who made a £190,000 profit.

While the Benitez v Ferguson war of words is far from over, at least we have evidence above that shows that Benitez is definitely the bigger spender of the two. But, of course, we now have this summer’s transfer market to deal with so it’s quite possible that the numbers may change quite significantly.

There are tons more interesting observations that could be made from the above numbers. What strikes you as interesting?

Thanks to reader Tokyo Toffeeman for the tip.


  1. Jerry June 16, 2009
    • DaveMo June 19, 2009
  2. Matt June 16, 2009
    • The Gaffer June 16, 2009
  3. misha June 16, 2009
    • The Gaffer June 16, 2009
  4. Rory June 16, 2009
  5. Daniel June 16, 2009
  6. Phil McThomas June 16, 2009
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  10. vinnie June 16, 2009
  11. Mohamed June 16, 2009
  12. daniel June 16, 2009
  13. LI Matt June 17, 2009
  14. Jose Mac June 19, 2009
  15. DaveMo June 19, 2009
  16. Richardr June 20, 2009
    • Ian B June 29, 2009
  17. allen June 20, 2009
  18. paul July 30, 2009
  19. gary the red February 9, 2010
  20. that didn't work out too well did it August 16, 2010
  21. Dave September 29, 2010

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