Have Liverpool spent one third of a billion in three windows? Plus a brilliant headline from Falkirk

By Tony Attwood

We have had a number of correspondents object to my view that Liverpool has spent more than Arsenal.   Two arguments generally have been raised.   One says our spending has been similar, and the other says that even if my claim that Liverpool spent a lot more than Arsenal that would be no excuse.

To quote one of the comments that I agreed to publish on the subject “Of course it’s not factual that Liverpool have spent MUCH MORE than us recently, but even if they had, it would be shameful to make that an excuse to be inferior.”

So let’s get this sorted.   The transfer value figures are taken from the Guardian, which seems about as close as one can get to being factually correct.  They publish a “transfer window interactive” each time around, and here is the link to one of them so you can see.  

Period Club Player Cost £m Club Player Cost £m
Summer ’17 Arsenal Kolasinac 0 Liverpool Salah £37m
Lacazette £46m Robertson £8m
Ox £35m
Winter ’17 Arsenal Mavropanos £2m Liverpool van Dijk £75m
Aubameygang £56m
Summer ’18 Arsenal Leno £19m Fabinho £40m
Sokratis £17m Keïta £53m
Torreira £26m  Shaqiri £13m
Guendouzi £8m Allison £65m
Total £174m £326m

So roughly speaking Liverpool have spent twice as much as Arsenal – or put it another way £152,000,000 more than Arsenal, which to me is much more.  A little bit shy of one third of a billion pounds.

Now is it shameful to use this as an excuse?  I don’t know because I am not sure I deal in excuses – but I do look for explanations which are different.   Arsenal have an owner who has made it clear thus far that he does not expect to be investing money in the club – indeed his action in buying the club outright does enable him to place other debts within the club.

The fact that we were able to spend as much as we did in the summer was quite a surprise.

I don’t know what the intentions are of the Liverpool ownership, but getting them to win one or two things in order to be able to sell them off, is certainly possible. One thing we do know is that we have to be very cautious about anything the Liverpool owner says: you might recall the Untold expose of what he confessed to after the Suarez affair.  If not the whole story is told in “Liverpool owner admits he lied about Suarez’ buy out clause”.   Rather interestingly although it was published in the USA it did not make the English papers – although that of course is another matter.

Anyway, the upping of the budget limit from £50m to £70 last summer was welcome but it puts us nowhere near the level that some clubs can spend each year.

Now I must admit I do enjoy seeing our own players come through to the first team – but it is a fact in today’s world that it is very hard indeed to overtake a team that is spending getting on twice as much as you on players over a three transfer window period, simply because each time they spot a weakness they can go and buy another player.  Each time they see Arsenal extend their potential they can go out and buy another player.

So, I don’t really get what those who have been arguing a) that Liverpool don’t spend that much and b) I am making excuses, are saying.   I’m giving a statistical summary of how much each team spends and then saying that it is an explanation of why it is going to be very hard for us to catch them.  For each time we get close they will spend their way out again.

Which is also why I was such a supporter of FFP and why I was very sorry to see how Uefa allowed Manchester City in particular, by pass the rules.

Quite honestly I think the arguments put against the notion that Liverpool is outspending Arsenal by getting on for two to one, and have spent close to a third of a billion pounds across three transfer windows are in the same league as today’s lovely headline from the Falkirk Herald:  “MONDAY VERDICT: Falkirk need to emulate Arsenal, boring but effective.”

Anyone can say what they want, but it doesn’t make it true.

And it is good to know the old fantasies are still going strong.

16 Replies to “Have Liverpool spent one third of a billion in three windows? Plus a brilliant headline from Falkirk”


  2. Can you do the same for net spend please.
    A more realistic Profit and loss style accounting approach

  3. Liverpool fans are so used to rolling out that old excuse of others outspending them regarding Man City, Chelsea, and Utd, that they assume it applies to every other big club. It makes them look a little stupid when you point out that they outspent us 2:1, so they then claim it’s irrelevant…

    It has been what, 25 years since we saw a really good Liverpool team? I’m not surprised that now they are as good as they have been in a long while, that the fact that they are still not good enough is galling to them.

    3 years into their new era, Liverpool have a colossus at the back, albeit for a king’s ransom, and a deadly strike force. The rest of the team is found wanting however, especially in the middle of the pitch. Their 3 man midfield was just completely dominated by the new pairing of Torreira and Xhaka. Add that to their forwards being held at bay by a back 5 containing only 2 regular starters, and I can see why they’re concerned. It took a goal resulting from a fortuitous deflection, from a player who hadn’t scored form open play since 2016 for them to score. 38% possession supports the idea that they were largely outplayed by the better team on the day.

    It must be frustrating that despite all their progress over the years under Klopp, after less than 1/3 of a season, Emery has a team capable of competing with them. They still have to look over their shoulders, when they’d prefer to believe that they only need concentrate on catching City.

  4. To be fair the scousers recouped £142 from barca for courtiho and reinvested wisely (apart for the ox)
    I don’t think liverpools owners would have bought a £75million pound centre back or goalkeeper otherwise.

  5. I might when I have time – but you should remember Untold is written by a small group of people who write about things that interest them. I don’t happen to agree that I was trying to write about profit or loss when I happened to mention in passing that Liverpool had spent one third of a billion pounds in 3 transfer windows, so it is not particularly intereting to me – but if you want to do the research and send it in I’ll consider it for publication. That offer is always there.
    It’s always an issue of time, and the ongoing revelations from the German press are pushing my interest in a different direction.

  6. Again. ..MILLIONs isn’t it.
    I find it thoroughly perverse that this sort of sum is bounced around and in so doing we try to belittle it. Both nett spends are HUGE sums of money. That 450 Supermacs! Except he wouldn’t have gone to Liverpool!
    Or 70 Trevor Francis’s to Arsenal. Ditto.

    When did football go so rotten?
    Can the Rot be stopped now.

  7. It might be worth noting (when considering Liverpool’s position vis-a-vis the moral high ground) that they were officially censured for an illegal approach for van Dijk and ended up paying 50% more than their original ‘offer’ when he finally moved.
    I agree that nett spending would be of interest but would benefit Arsenal as much as Liverpool. Think Walcott, Ox, Giroud, Gabriel, Coquelin etc.

  8. According to transfermarket, Liverpool have recouped about €70m more in sales than arsenal, significantly reducing the difference in net spend to between €80m in that period. We might debate all day wether that is significantly more or not its irrelevant. What is for me is, if Liverpool is willing to spend their money on improving the team and arsenal isn’t, then I don’t see how you can use that as an excuse for our team to be inferior. And its not even about the owner putting in money, its more about using the money the club generates. No point piling up the biggest cash reserves in European football. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against the model the club has chosen, but I don’t understand you claiming poverty and using it as an excuse to expect our squad to be worse than Liverpool’s. For me it’s an issue of priority, Liverpool might prioritize spending on players (whether exorbitantly or not) while we probably prioritize a healthy bank balance.

  9. Ango, I think we still have the obligation for many years I think to have a high amount of money in the bank to cover the repayments for building the new stadium. Money that one day will be available again to spend but not now.

  10. @walter, that belief is conjecture for now. It might well be an excuse cooked up by AKBs to explain away the piling of cash reserves while bidding £40m+1. Liverpool fans too might also spread d story that they are obliged to spend big on players to meet contractual agreement with sponsors. What is fact is that we do not know why arsenal has prioritized high cash reserves. Like I earlier said, I don’t have a problem with it, Leicester didn’t out spend to win the league, athletico Madrid didn’t, Dortmund didn’t, even Monaco/Montpellier didn’t in recent seasons. I don’t believe you must outspend the competition to win (Tony used to write articles making that point when he needed to defend Wenger’s non/low spending, I believe its jamburg that used to call him out on that, and he’ll go silent). However management shld asses the team, can you be competitive on the cheap? If you can, do it. If you can’t, don’t make excuses with poverty, either spend or confess that bank balance takes priority.

  11. I believe Walter’s point is valid – the banks imposed a series of constraints on Arsenal when lending money to Arsenal for the building of the Emirates – as is normal with virtually all loans from banks. One of them was that Mr Wenger had to remain at Arsenal for a number of years. Another was that a fixed amount of money had to be retained in the bank as a reserve. It was widely reported, and I recall reading several articles in the Financial Times that reported this – and on financial matters I tend to take their word for it, as they very rarely seem to make statements of fact that are subsequently shown to be wrong.

  12. @Tony, I’m sure you’ll agree with me (seeing as you have been on a campaign to separate facts from opinion) that until u can supply supporting evidence, all you’ve said is conjecture. Like I said, even Liverpool fans can come tell us that there are contractual obligations laid on them to spend.

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