Transfer fees are generally paid in instalments. On tick. On the old never-never. Except they do have to be paid at some point and rather embarrassingly, those numbers have to be included on club accounts.
Football finance guru Kieran Maguire has been collating those numbers to work out which Premier League clubs owe the most in transfer fees (Arsenal), and for balance he also worked out which clubs are owed the most money for transfer fees (Chelsea by an absolute country mile). We have done the easy part of doing the sums to work out the balance.
These numbers are all taken from the last available full accounts and they relate to all declared transfer fees either owed or owing. We start with the clubs in credit…
Balance: Chelsea are owed £96m
Nobody sells quite like Chelsea. No Premier League club has come even remotely close to selling players at the volume and value of Chelsea over the last five years. Six players have been sold for £30m-plus over the last five seasons alone but the big money is owed for one man…
An alleged fraud case around Eden Hazard’s training compensation to former club Tubize has revealed the total fee (inc bonuses) that Real Madrid might have to pay to Chelsea: €160m (£143m).
To be paid in installments:
💰2019 €40m (£36m)
💰2020 €56m (£50m)
💰2021 €64m (£57m) https://t.co/2UODG5tIJ7
— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) September 4, 2020
Balance: Newcastle United are owed £36m
Newcastle are one club who have tried to “get away from dating” and move towards paying up front for transfers, but they are still owed considerable sums for Aleksandar Mitrovic and Moussa Sissoko, with that particular transfer to Spurs bringing in £6m a year for the five seasons of the Frenchman’s contract.
Balance: Crystal Palace are owed £30m
The caveat is that Palace – like many clubs – actually sell those instalments to release more cash, but those debts might still officially remain on the books. Football is a funny old business.
Crystal Palace sell £22.5 million instalment on AWB transfer due from Manchester United next summer to Australian Macquarie bank & take cash up front . Thanks to eagle eyed @Jed_Die for the spot #CPFC #MUFC https://t.co/x4QgOGsvaa pic.twitter.com/lOshS9d6UR
— PriceOfFootball (@KieranMaguire) October 23, 2019
Balance: Liverpool are owed £6m
Barcelona still owe a massive whack of money for Philippe Coutinho and will likely be still paying that debt long after they have finally crowbarred his wages off their books.
Balance: Sheffield United are owed £4m
Those numbers will look way out of date by next year, when more staggered payments will also be due for Rhian Brewster and Aaron Ramsdale. They’re going to have a very expensive Championship side.
Balance: Burnley owe nowt to no bugger
Balance: Manchester City owe £7m
There are clubs across Europe that owe Manchester City significant cash, with reports 12 months ago claiming that City were still due ‘huge sums’ for such blue legends as Edin Dzeko, Nolito and Danilo. They are not averse to buying on HP too, with Rodri allegedly costing more than his release clause in instalments.
Balance: Brighton owe £20m
Nothing worrying here but Brighton are rapidly approaching the point when they really should cash in on at least one of Yves Bissouma, Tariq Lamptey or Ben White.
Balance: Everton owe £31m
Barcelona appear to be owed the bulk of that transfer money from Everton, who have spent more than either Liverpool or Tottenham on transfers over the last five seasons. It has earned them the highs of *checks table* eighth.
Balance: Leicester owe £33m
It somehow seems apt that the clubs bidding to break the Big Six are operating at very similar levels of transfer debt, with Leicester heavily using banks for loans to offset complex transfer arrangements.
Balance: Southampton owe £43m
Southampton’s net transfer spend over the last five years is less than any other established Premier League club. That is extraordinary.
Balance: Aston Villa owe £48m
That’s a promoted club with a big old initial transfer outlay right there. They are the Premier League’s 11th biggest spenders over the last five years despite spending three of those five seasons in the Championship.
Balance: Wolves owe £84m
That’s a promoted club with a big old initial transfer outlay right there. They are the Premier League’s 10th biggest spenders over the last five years despite spending two of those five seasons in the Championship. Expect that ‘owed’ number to rise after the sales of Diogo Jota, Matt Doherty and Helder Costa last summer.
Balance: Manchester United owe £91m
They’re still paying for Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and just about every other player to come through the doors in the last five years. Borussia Dortmund were not keen on the same Buy Now, Pay Later terms last summer when they tried to pay for Jadon Sancho using tokens and coupons. And no, the Glazers are going nowhere.
Balance: West Ham owe £95m
Yikes. Owing pretty much 30% of your transfer outlay over the last five years is not a great look.
Balance: Arsenal owe £107m
Arsenal fans unhappy with Stan Kroenke can console themselves that they are top of one particular table. Arsenal owe more to other clubs for outstanding transfer fees than any other Premier League club. What Stan has done, he’s done using the club credit card. pic.twitter.com/STNzDlqMeg
— PriceOfFootball (@KieranMaguire) April 28, 2021
Balance: Tottenham owe £123m
Ah, the king of the thin instalment deals. This is how Daniel Levy rolls…
— Mike Vosper (@5_A_Side_Goalie) August 30, 2017