Were United the biggest PL spender pre-Roman at Chelsea? Gross, net, wages?

stevoc

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Ok something I see coming up again and again on here recently is this idea that United spent as much in the 90's as Chelsea and City have done over the last 20 years to achieve success.

It is not a myth. It is the truth. Before the chelsea take over Man Utd spent the most in net transfer spend and wages, it is still true right now.
Claims like these, are they accurate?

Were United the biggest PL spenders on fees and wages before Roman and are they still the biggest spenders on fees and wages now?
 

SER19

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Can't find a table of spend totals from 92 to around 2003 but interesting article here. United were very rarely the highest spenders in a given season through the 90s (albeit probably still spending solidly)

https://www.football365.com/news/the-biggest-spender-in-every-pl-season-and-how-they-fared

In any case, United's money and spending is fundamentally different to that of Russian and Middle Eastern projects pumped full of money. No, we're not moral angels, but spending off the back of organic success is very different
 

acnumber9

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Ok something I see coming up again and again on here recently is this idea that United spent as much in the 90's as Chelsea and City have done over the last 20 years to achieve success.



Claims like these, are they accurate?

Were United the biggest PL spenders on fees and wages before Roman and are they still the biggest spenders on fees and wages now?
Probably on wages, but not on transfers. People jump to that conclusion because United tended to go big on individual players like Veron, Ferdinand etc. They forget the seasons where we only signed players like Tony Coton or Quinton Fortune.

We also didn’t generally sell many players which is what happens when you get transfers right so net spend is probably higher.
 

stevoc

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Probably on wages, but not on transfers. People jump to that conclusion because United tended to go big on individual players like Veron, Ferdinand etc. They forget the seasons where we only signed players like Tony Coton or Quinton Fortune.

We also didn’t generally sell many players which is what happens when you get transfers right so net spend is probably higher.
See that's something I'm interested in seeing stats on. Because most United fans know we didn't offer the top wages before Keane's contract breaking the wage structure in 2001. But I'm wondering if we had the biggest wage bill as a result of having multiple players on £25k per week.
 

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After several months of hard bargaining, the Republic of Ireland international midfielder is ready to accept a four-year contract that will net him around £50,000 a week.
The deal puts in the shade the estimated £40,000 a week paid to the current top earners, Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson of Newcastle United and Chelsea's Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps. It is more than twice what United stars such as David Beckham earn.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/football/1999/dec/07/newsstory.sport4

It wasnt till we won the treble and Roy Keane threatened to walk out that the PLC caved in and started paying top PL wages. We were way behind what European clubs were paying.

We had the biggest turnover in world football from 98-2004 but the PLC ever backed Fergie in the market to the same extent as the top European clubs.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deloitte_Football_Money_League
 

Beachryan

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For me it's all about relative spend. There's a big difference between, say, United in the 90's spending 10% more than Arsenal, but City in the last 10 years spending 300 or 400% of Arsenal/Liverpool etc. (for the record, Liverpool outspend United on transfers in the 90s).

City and Chelsea fans want to pretend that what they're doing is comparable to United's success in the 90's. It is not. It is great success to be sure, but only achieved by absurd out-spending of rivals*

* Except United, but as I keep trying to hammer home, us being sh*t at spending doesn't negate the impact of petro-dollars blowing up the league.
 

Chesterlestreet

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But I'm wondering if we had the biggest wage bill as a result of having multiple players on £25k per week.
Probably hard to establish - per reliable sources - what our wage bill was if you go back far enough. Even in recent years it'll be an estimate more than anything.

But my guess would be that we were right up there in terms of total wages - but clearly not in terms of individual big earners (as you correctly suggest, we didn't pay top dollar to top players under the old plc - Shearer, for instance, earned more than any United player when he went to Newcastle *).

* Possibly at Blackburn too, his last contract.
 

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We broke the British record a few times so definitely weren’t afraid to spend. But when you generate 100% of that money yourself I think you have to just say fair fecks. The issue people have with city, Chelsea, PSG etc (excluding non-football matters) is that they’re bankrolled by someone else. A better comparison would be net spend as a percentage of revenue wouldn’t it?
 

Crustanoid

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This is just the latest attempt by the plastic fans of those two clubs to validate their existence. To no avail as there is and never will be any comparison. If they want to be taken seriously they should just stop supporting them.

As others have said, the Keane scenario was the first time we spent ‘big’ on wages and in general our transfer outlay was in line with or less than the Newcastle’s, Leeds, Arsenals etc during that period PLUS (and this is the important bit, Plastics) we had grown organically through success and our style of play and can justify being able to spend what was spent NOT financially doped on an unprecedented scale, breaking and devaluing football in the process.
 

devilish

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United were the biggest spenders in the EPL but that didn't say much. Up until Veron's signing we lagged massively behind other top continental clubs in terms of finances. We couldn't afford to match Batistuta's salary at FIORENTINA.
 

Chesterlestreet

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We broke the British record a few times so definitely weren’t afraid to spend.
Yeah, and like I've said before this is important if you want to understand what our purely financial status actually meant: we were in a position which allowed us to flex our money muscle to secure certain - as it turned out - crucial targets like Keane, Rio and Rooney.

But to compare United's spending back then with what came later - Chelsea and then City - is nevertheless ridiculous. It's a completely different thing. For all sorts of reasons. The - lazy - argument that United "bought the league" just like Chelsea and City did later doesn't hold up at all. It wasn't just like what happened later.
 

JohnnyKills

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The lack of investment in transfers and wages was actually a bone of contention for many fans in the 90s. Cantona mentioned it when he left.
Other sides spent more than us, they just spent it badly.
 

united_99

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We weren’t top spenders, neither did we pay the highest wages. Of course we paid good wages and spent big, but not the highest in England, let alone in Europe.
In 2000 after winning several league titles and the CL Keane had to fight very hard to get a salary his performances deserved. He was wanted by Juventus and Bayern. And still when we finally gave Keane a good salary the club wrote a letter to ticket holders saying that ticket prices had increased because of Keane’s new contract/salary! Keane of course wasn’t happy with it and called the club out for it.
 

stw2022

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I think Ferguson wrote in his book that even after winning back to back Premier League titles that George Graham was still on a significantly higher salary than him. He almost walked away completely in 2002 because despite being the most successful manager in our fecking history and the most successful manager in the country at that point he still wasn't close to being the highest paid manager in the league and the board would rather let him walk away than make him that.

Fergie was constantly, it seems, bitching about being hamstrung in the market. The purse strings weren't really loosened until Edwards was moved out of the way
 

Ferguson’s Hairdryer

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We were outspent by all of our rivals for the years that they were rivals. Blackburn were spending more than us for the 2-3 years that they were relevant, Newcastle were spending more than us for the 2-3 years that they challenged and the 3 or so years after that.

We’ve always been a club that would break transfer records. But never been a heavy spending club until after 2013.

The PLC were very stingy for transfers, on the flip side we invested very heavily in OT and a new training ground under the PLC.

Would actually be interested to see fans views if we were still under a plc. Shareholders dividends, and low transfer spend but no debt and profits recycled into stadium and training etc
 

lysglimt

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We generally spent big in a few season. In 1989 we spent about £8m which was a huge amount back then (Pallister, Phelan, Ince, Wallace and Webb)
In 98/99 we spent big on Blomqvist, Stam and Yorke. 3 years later on Nistelrooy, Veron and Forlan - but generally we didn't spend much under Ferguson. In the first 6 seasons of the P.L - we had a net spend on £3 m - in the next 5 we had a net spend of £75 million

92/93 - Net spent £1 m
93/94 - Net spent £2,5 m
94/95 - Net spent £4.5 m
95/96 - Net spent minus £13 m
96/97 - Net spent £2 m
97/98 - Net spent £6 m
98/99 - Net spent £27 m
99/00 - Net spent £5 m
00/01 - Net spent £6 m
01/02 - Net spent £30 m

But the summer spending in 1989 relatively speaking is probably one of the biggest in modern history. If you take into consideration that the transfer record was Waddles transfer to Marseille that summer worth £4.2 m - so we basically signed players for twice as much as the world transfer record during the summer of 1989.
 

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We broke the British record a few times so definitely weren’t afraid to spend. But when you generate 100% of that money yourself I think you have to just say fair fecks. The issue people have with city, Chelsea, PSG etc (excluding non-football matters) is that they’re bankrolled by someone else. A better comparison would be net spend as a percentage of revenue wouldn’t it?
Yep definitely. Plus the last few years the TV rights have been so lucrative even shite clubs have been able to spend a lot. It hasn't been the sole preserve of the billionaires' playthings clubs.
 

Cloud7

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The lack of investment in transfers and wages was actually a bone of contention for many fans in the 90s. Cantona mentioned it when he left.
Other sides spent more than us, they just spent it badly.
Oh how the tables have turnt
 

Sky1981

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Off course we are.

"Not the highest net spend during our rival year" is playing on technicalities.

We bought well back in those days, we were also blessed with saf and the co92 as well as decent academy players like john oshea making sure we have squad backup for years.

But we are taking advantage of the premier league and our financial muscles.

Let's not kid ourselves.
 

krentz

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Off course we are.

"Not the highest net spend during our rival year" is playing on technicalities.

We bought well back in those days, we were also blessed with saf and the co92 as well as decent academy players like john oshea making sure we have squad backup for years.

But we are taking advantage of the premier league and our financial muscles.

Let's not kid ourselves.
Do you have data to back your claim?

United did spend big in the 90's even breaking transfer record fee twice, Roy Keane for 3.75M in 1993 and Andy Cole for 7M in 1995, BUT we were far from the biggest spender because (1) we spend money more sporadically, record breaking fee for Andy Cole in January 1995 was followed by 3 years of underinvestment, (2) we're balancing the book by selling our highly valued players, for example selling Mark Robins to Norwich City for 800K in 1992, or selling Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, and Andrei Kanchelskies for combined fees of 12M in summer 1995.
 

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Ah the good old days, when fans didn't really give a shite about finances of a club. All we needed to know is that the club could afford and attract good players, then retain them. Shame more of us didn't get into buying shares in the club, as it'd have been a lot better for the club in the long run. The current owners and their debt have certainly made people want to know all about the finances.
 

Sky1981

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Do you have data to back your claim?

United did spend big in the 90's even breaking transfer record fee twice, Roy Keane for 3.75M in 1993 and Andy Cole for 7M in 1995, BUT we were far from the biggest spender because (1) we spend money more sporadically, record breaking fee for Andy Cole in January 1995 was followed by 3 years of underinvestment, (2) we're balancing the book by selling our highly valued players, for example selling Mark Robins to Norwich City for 800K in 1992, or selling Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, and Andrei Kanchelskies for combined fees of 12M in summer 1995.
Like i said, those are technicalities. Just like Liverpool "net spend"
 

Sky1981

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Ah the good old days, when fans didn't really give a shite about finances of a club. All we needed to know is that the club could afford and attract good players, then retain them. Shame more of us didn't get into buying shares in the club, as it'd have been a lot better for the club in the long run. The current owners and their debt have certainly made people want to know all about the finances.
Money wise we're more skint under PLC, it's well documented
 

Commentary

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Can't find a table of spend totals from 92 to around 2003 but interesting article here. United were very rarely the highest spenders in a given season through the 90s (albeit probably still spending solidly)

https://www.football365.com/news/the-biggest-spender-in-every-pl-season-and-how-they-fared

In any case, United's money and spending is fundamentally different to that of Russian and Middle Eastern projects pumped full of money. No, we're not moral angels, but spending off the back of organic success is very different
Excellent article thanks for posting it.

Playing football and watching United as a Canadian in the 90's it was harder back than to get a full media reports, and I was too young to care about finances.

I knew that the owner of the Blackburn Rovers was rich, and than the money moved to Newcastle, interesting enough I always thought Arsenal were the big spenders, but it makes sense that it was Chelsea.

Although I could be mistaken. This confirms my view that United's wealth was built organically because of Alex Ferguson's brilliance. Yes they've always been a wealthy big club, but financial success came as a result of consistent success on the pitch....not as a result of super rich owners buying it. (City, Chelsea, PSG)
 

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Money wise we're more skint under PLC, it's well documented
Obviously the revenue streams were much lower back then, the Glazers aren't responsible for it's growth, we've simply gone up with the pack (whilst being overtaken), but it has all been attributed to them somehow.
 
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Sky1981

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Obviously the revenue streams were much lower back then, the Glazers aren't responsible for it's growth, we've simply gone up with the pack, but it has all been attributed to them somehow.
Not talking about absolute value, but the process of big purchases have to go through the board, and they're skint.

SAF has talked alot about this.
 

Red_toad

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Not talking about absolute value, but the process of big purchases have to go through the board, and they're skint.

SAF has talked alot about this.
I'm not taking about the value either, I'm talking about revenue. Sir Alex is a company man, I'm sure his recollection of the plc is marred by his dealings over a horse. We regularly broke transfer records and out spent domestic rivals, so weren't exactly skint, regardless of what anyone says. Plus if genuine fans had gone all out the purchase the club when it was only valued at 600 million or less, then a PLC would have been very beneficial with voting rights going to those who wanted the best for the club and not their own personal gains.
 

Sky1981

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I'm not taking about the value either, I'm talking about revenue. Sir Alex is a company man, I'm sure his recollection of the plc is marred by his dealings over a horse. We regularly broke transfer records and out spent domestic rivals, so weren't exactly skint, regardless of what anyone says. Plus if genuine fans had gone all out the purchase the club when it was only valued at 600 million or less, then a PLC would have been very beneficial with voting rights going to those who wanted the best for the club and not their own personal gains.
Need to compare apple to apple here,

Under Glazer we not only broke the record, on top of that we also buy several more player our spending is 1bn and that's only beaten by a Qatari oil state funded Manchester City.

It's not even fair. No proper club (non sugar daddy funded) can match our spending.

Plus, it's actually a very logical. A one man owned company is always easier to make decision compared to a PLC. No brainer. The PLC are also filled with self interest parties, they're worried about Dividend and income, they're not exactly angel investor.
 

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Ok something I see coming up again and again on here recently is this idea that United spent as much in the 90's as Chelsea and City have done over the last 20 years to achieve success.



Claims like these, are they accurate?

Were United the biggest PL spenders on fees and wages before Roman and are they still the biggest spenders on fees and wages now?
net transfer spend past 5 & 10 years
https://www.transfermarkt.us/premier-league/fuenfjahresvergleich/wettbewerb/GB1

2003 to today
https://www.transferleague.co.uk/pr...ague-tables/premier-league-table-1992-to-date
Man City and Chelsea needed to spend more to play the catch up game from where they were. The difference of net spend between Man united and Chelsea is minimal.

I can't find data before 2003 and i do not know the accuracy on the data post above either. I highly doubt any numbers mentioned in the internet are adjusted for inflation, so don't take it seriously.
 
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stw2022

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Ferguson was speaking out about constraints of the PLC long before the issue with the horse. It’s so tremendously disrespectful to call him a ‘company man’ and all that signifies in this context simply because you don’t like the fact his actual experience working under different owners and ownership structures doesn’t fit well with your preferred narrative
 
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Ferguson was speaking out about constraints of the PLC long before the issue with the horse. It’s so tremendously disrespectful to call him a ‘company man’ and all that signifies in this context simply because you don’t like the fact his actual experience working under different owners and ownership structures doesn’t fit well with your preferred narrative
He had no issues saying working with the Glazers was much easier than working with the plc, think he made it pretty clear on many occasions he wasn’t a fan of the plc.
 

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Need to compare apple to apple here,

Under Glazer we not only broke the record, on top of that we also buy several more player our spending is 1bn and that's only beaten by a Qatari oil state funded Manchester City.

It's not even fair. No proper club (non sugar daddy funded) can match our spending.

Plus, it's actually a very logical. A one man owned company is always easier to make decision compared to a PLC. No brainer. The PLC are also filled with self interest parties, they're worried about Dividend and income, they're not exactly angel investor.
Impossible to compare as the club is no longer a plc, but prior to the take over we had the biggest income, now we're 3rd.

Overall we're 5th just ahead of Liverpool and Juve since 2010 and Barca in second aren't oil funded. Then looking at debt repayments, I wonder if we could have used that 1 billion odd that left the club to invest in the team and in the infrastructure of the club.

But the club isn't owned by 1 man, so your logic fails as it's not correct. Do you honestly think the Glazers no 1 priority is their dividend? Plus you're completely missing my point that fans should have been the ones buying up shares (with the benefit of hindsight).
Are you expecting fans to be grateful that the owners allowed the club to spend as much on itself as it has to service their debt?
 

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He had no issues saying working with the Glazers was much easier than working with the plc, think he made it pretty clear on many occasions he wasn’t a fan of the plc.
Yeah he had issues with a major share holder, it's well documented. Plus he's still employed by the club. His opinion isn't without bias.
He could get transfers completed more efficiently under the Glazers as fewer in the chain to make those decisions.
 

Sky1981

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He was great mates with them originally in fairness.
But I wasn’t talking about that, I was talking about the way the plc was run, he was never a fan of it.
People have the notion that PLC is the holy Grail. It wasn't

if you ended up with stingy kunts in the board you're better of under Glazer. PLC / Solo Ownership it's only as good as who's the boss at the end of the day.

And Fans doesn't always make the correct decision.
 

Red_toad

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People have the notion that PLC is the holy Grail. It wasn't

if you ended up with stingy kunts in the board you're better of under Glazer. PLC / Solo Ownership it's only as good as who's the boss at the end of the day.

And Fans doesn't always make the correct decision.
If the fans had bought the majority of the shares. I'm pretty sure the board would have been able to agree issues with the manager. As it wasn't fans holding the majority of the shares, there was probably issues. Fans owning the majority of the club is the holy grail. The PLC could have seen this achieved had people invested their hard earned into the club.

As for being better off under the Glazer's I can think of a BILLION reasons why that'd be very subjective. I cannot see how anyone can justify how much the debt has taken out of the club.

As for fans making the decisions, they don't it's a board, we wouldn't have meetings with 600k fans rocking up and all getting a say.