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The Highbury Library animted promo v5 350x350

Every transfer window there seems to be a know-it-all saying "the shirt sales of this transfer will cover most of the transfer fee." Not quite right, gooners. If it genuinely were that easy, huge transfers would take place every day. In fact, shirt-sale revenue is the biggest myth in worldwide football.

According to numbers of PR Marketing, these are the shirt sales club averages of the last five seasons:

1 - Real Madrid 1,580,000

2 - Manchester United 1,490,000

3 – Barcelona  1,190,000

4 - Bayern Munich 945,000

5 – Chelsea 875,000

6 – Arsenal 825,000

7 – Liverpool 805,000

8 – Marseille 385,000

9 – Juventus 375,000

10 – PSG 335,000

Clubs usually get less than 10% for every shirt sold. The rest goes to Nike/Adidas/Puma/etc. which is logical, since they manufacture it. When Real Madrid bought Ronaldo for €94m in 2009 they sold 1.2m shirts. This is still a record today. What if I told you this gained Real ‘just’ €8.4m? Europe’s top clubs averaging a sales volume of 800 thousand shirts per season, which, in comparison to Ronaldo’s numbers, puts their profit on one single player/transfer in great perspective.

There’s also a large group of fans spending money every season on new shirts, regardless of which player the club attracts. Only the small group of people that buys a shirt 'just because of player X', can be considered as newly added revenue. For example, when we bought Özil we sold 15k replicas in the first week. The majority (let’s say 10k) would have probably chosen for Ramsey or another player on the back had we not signed Özil. So the real shirt earning of this particular transfer is therefore the revenue of the five thousand people who bought a shirt solely because of Özil.

All in all the net income of shirt sales from one transferred player is almost negligible in comparison with the paid transfer fee. People tend to exaggerate these numbers far too easily. You ought not to use it as an argument against your club not spending big on a certain player, and don’t let people convince you paying €80m for a super star is justifiable.

Twitter: @AlexisAssist

Mean Lean's Response

Nicely done, thanks.

Yeah this is certainly something I've heard from football fans quite often. It is basically a means of justifying spending what you haven't got because other clubs have more resources. As you said, if transfers paid for themselves then we'd have the likes of Newcastle United spending £60m on Mr world class striker. I have to say though, €8.4m to Real Madrid from Ronaldo shirt sales is somewhat of a surprise. I would have thought it was higher than that.  It just goes to show doesn't it?

There are many misconceptions when it comes to football finances. The latest being that Arsenal have £200m sat in the bank without any context, without any explanation. Truth is we think we know it all when often we know very little.


  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more