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A Request To The Football Media

Hello! My name is Graham, and, in general, I don't like you very much. Sadly, I need you in order to do my job, so I can't be too amused that you appear to be nigh-on universally incompetent. It makes my life more difficult than it should be. So here's some advice to make you better journalists (and therefore make it easier to parse through the mountains of crap you produce): Learn how to report financial figures.

Here's an example:

A player is under contract with team A for some sum of Ac money per year*, for some amount of years Ay. Said player is sold to team B for some transfer fee T. He is then signed to a new deal worth some some of money Bc for some amount of years By. There are other considerations, of course, but those are the major elements.

*And for the love of all that is holy, stop reporting wages in terms of pounds per week.

Here's how you should be thinking about that:

  • Team A is relieved of Ac * Ay in terms of financial commitment, or Ac per year.
  • Team A earns T in a lump sum (generally, although it's entirely possible for other parties to be paid out of the transfer fee).
  • Team B spends T, and for accounting purposes they'll smear it out over the course of the contract - cost per year is then T / By.
  • Team B takes on a financial commitment Bc * By, or Bc per year.

That means, broadly, that the player is 'costing' team B a total of T + Bc * By, or T / By + Bc per year. Cost per year, incidentally, is what matters for Financial Fair Play, so please do pay attention to that. Team A receives T in cash and is relieved of a total Ac * Ay financial burden.

Let's apply this to Fernando Torres. At Liverpool, Torres was making £5.7M per year and had two and a half years left on his deal. He moved to Chelsea for a £50M transfer fee, signing a five and a half year contract for around £9.1M per year. What was his cost to Chelsea? £100M total, or £18.2M per season. Not £50M.

In other words, wages matter. A lot. And you lot seem completely incapable of grasping that very simple fact, which means you don't get us anything approaching accurate wage bills. So, the request - please start thinking about transfers in terms of the total cost to a club. Do your research, do some digging, but stop citing a transfer fee and then running away from the actual question.


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