3 Jun 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Rafa Benitez vs. Aston Villa (O'Leary/Martin O'Neill) - Transfer spending comparison (2004-2009)

In the 6th article of a 7 part series, I take a look at how Rafa Benitez's transfer spending between 2004 and 2009 compares to Aston Villa's spending over the same period.


* To accurately report the gross/net spend of the UK's top clubs since 2004.

* To dispel the myth, exaggeration and misinformation surrounding the transfer spending of the UK's top clubs.

* To finally bring clarity and accuracy to this area so that future debates about transfer spending can be based in fact, not generalisation and biased opinion.


* Liverpool and Villa have slightly different accounting years:

Liverpool: 31 July - 31 July
Spurs: 31 May - 31 May

* I have omitted transfer activity (both teams) for accounting year 2009-10 as neither clubs' accounts for that year are available until 2011. Consequently, there is no way to be 100% sure about the figures.

* The transfer of Xabi Alonso took place after the 2008 accounting deadline, which is why it's not included here. I will update the transfer spending table when the 2009-10 accounts are released.

* This series is NOT an attack on Rafa Benitez. The comparisons to be undertaken are regularly requested by visitors to this site.

* These stats have never been compiled before online.

Rafa BENITEZ vs. Aston Villa Managers 2004-2009

RB v AV - transfer Spend

* These figures can finally put to rest the ridiculous misinformation spread by Pro-Benitez fans that Villa have somehow spent more money than Liverpool.

* Benitez has spent more than twice as much money as O'Leary and O'Neill in the last 5 years.

* Villa were in a significantly worse position that Liverpool in 2004, as their league positions during that period attest.

* Given the comparative resources available to O'Neill (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Man City have all had much more money available), he has taken Villa as high as it's realistically possible to go in the league.

* When O'Neill arrived, Villa were 2 places outside the relegation zone. In his first season, he stabilised things and stopped the rot (moving the club 5 places up the table); in his next 3 seasons, O'Neill solidified Villa in the top half of the table, with three sixth place finishes in a row. Given Villa's resources/second-tier status/ability to attract second-tier players, 6th is arguably the best the club could hope for.

* In 2009-10, Villa finished above Liverpool.

* O'Neill creates *stability* at clubs he manages. For example: At Villa, he has bought 28 players; 24 of them are still at the club.


Part 1: Rafa Benitez vs. Alex Ferguson: Transfer spending comparison (2004-2009)

Part 2: Rafa Benitez vs. Arsene Wenger: Transfer Spending comparison 2004-09

Part 3: Rafa Benitez vs. Man City: Transfer Spending comparison 2004-09

Part 4: Rafa Benitez vs Chelsea: Transfer Spending comparison 2004-09

Part 5: Rafa Benitez vs Spurs: Transfer Spending comparison 2004-09

Why Martin O'Neill is the right man to replace Benitez at LFC

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. JK,

    So now rafa has gone what do you think "should" do next?

    What do you think the club will do next?

  2. Merseypride (kevin)5:19 pm, June 03, 2010

    Now your wish is granted, Rafa has been sacked....Now you have lots of spare time to waste!

  3. You've proved that ONeill has spent more net that Benitez.  Oneill became manager the year after Benitez where your figues show in that first year a net spend of over 30 million in Liverpools favour.  Take this out and Oneill has spent over 20 million more than Benitez in their first 4 years.  Not including last season where Liverpool barely spent anything.

  4. Ass wipe, what has villa won in the last 5 years. You should have had a column of their achievements. Do better.Nxt time.

  5. No - I can now go back to enjoying being a Liverpool fan again.

  6. The club will appoint a new manager within 2 weeks.  Then it's business as usual.

  7. in summary:

    *MON has spent on average 33m (18m net) spend a season for 3 seasons (plus spending 40m in the summer before season 9/10 which isn't covered in the analysis above)

    *despite consistent backing MON has achieved nothing except lift his team 10 places up the league above mercurial talents such as blackburn, bolton and fulham.

    *The last 3 seasons have seen 6th place finishes, with only a 2 point improvement season-by-season as a return for Lerner's 130m+ investment

    *MON's policy of driving his squad into the ground has consistently resulted in exhaustion , injury and poor results in the tail end of the season

  8. Nice attempt to mangle the figures, but you're not right.  O'Neill came to Villa in 2006. Since that time:

    Benitez: 178m Gross

    O'Neill: 98,8 gross

    In what Universe does O'Neill have the same *spending* power as Benitez?!  Net spend is utterly irrelevant.  Keep trying to convince yourself though.

  9. That's right, DRP - just ignore *every* variable that might have an impact on this analysis, such as Villa's stature in world football; ability to attract only b/C grade players; 25 years without regular European football; relegation-threatened status before O'Neill took over; lack of spending power compared to the top 4-5 clubs; the fact that Liverpool has spent more than 50% more than Villa in the last 5 years etc etc

  10. No actually,  i haven't ignored every variable - i've chosen to selectively comment on the statistics - just like you have in your * summary list below the analysis

    which is also exactly like you have done when you have ignored the limitations that Rafa has had since G+H arrived to fleece the club

    the inconvenient fact is that MON has had that 130m+ investment over the last 4 seasons and had full support of his club and yet done fuck all to improve his team. The stats prove it, the league position proves it and the trophy cabinet proves it.

    argue that one , Jimmy-boy

  11. i hope you do get to enjoy being a fan

    we'll see

  12. How is net spend utterly irrelevant if a significant measure of the strength of a football club's squad is its depth?  8-) *DONT_KNOW* ;) >:o

  13. I stand to be corrected, but I thought you had an article on the true figures for Alonso's sale to Madrid but now in your footnotes for this article you state these figures will be in the reports coming out 2011. Can you clear this up for me if you can. thanx

  14. I stand to be corrected, but I thought you had an article on the true figures for Alonso's sale to Madrid but now in your footnotes for this article you state these figures will be in the reports coming out 2011. Can you clear this up for me if you can. thanx

  15. I already have on other threads.  There's no point - you are completely ignoring the many variables at play here, including the significantly lower value of Villa's squad when O'Neill took over, plsu everything I mentioned above, plus a whole host of other things.

    Comparing Liverpool to Villa is unfair anyway.  Villa should be compared to the likes of Everton, and Birmingham for a fair analysis.  Would you compared Villa to Hull City, for example?  No.

    O'Neill has taken Villa as high in the league as it's possible to go, or do you expect him to overtake Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Man City, all of whom have spent 60-80% more than Villa over 5 years?!

  16. What crap - here's some stats 80% of Villa fans think that MoN is the best man for the job at Villa, we are (except for a few boo boys) happy with progress under Lerner. You need new owners and big investment even to stand still - welcome to the 2nd tier, big club sulk syndrome!

  17. Hi Guest

    * I posted an article detailing the correct figure the club received for Alonso's sale.

    * That has nothing to do with this transfer comparison - Alonso's sale took place after July 31, i.e. in accounting year 2009-10.  This analysis is for accounting years up to 31 July 2009.  The reason I've chosen those dates is because the club accounts are available for those years.

    the 2009-10 accounts will not be available until 2011.

  18. Hi Jaimie,

    Would appreciate a reply.


  19. Net spend is the idiot's justification for transfer spending.  
    I'll give you a realistic example (which I gave earlier in the thread):  
    Between 2004 and 2009, Man United had the following figures:    
    Gross: 204m    
    Recouped: 101    
    Net spend: 103m    
    Average net spend per year: 20m    
    Now - if we include 2009-10 (Accounts are not released until next year so these are figures taken from the public domain):  
    Spending 2009-10:18m (valencia + owen)    
    Recouped 2009-10: 80m (Ronaldo)    
    We'd then have the following figures for United between 2004-10:    
    GROSS: 222m    
    Recoouped: 181m    
    Net spend: 41m    
    Average net spend from 2004-2010    
    = 6.8m    
    According to the tedious net spend cult:    
    * The value of United's squad between 2004 and 2010 would be 41m (!)    
    * Ferguson only *really* really spent 6m a year  
    * Ferguson won 3 titles and the European Cup by spending....6m a year.  
    * Gross spend of 221m is irrelevant - what matters is that ferguson made back 181m.  That proves he's a good manager.    
    This is exactly the kind of imbecilic argument the net spend cult uses to justify Benitez's transfer spending.    
    Surely you can see how ridiculous this is?

  20. I see you deleted my reposte. Perhaps a little too critical of your views?Great way to facilitate a discussion! ;)

  21. And i see its been deleted again. Mr.Moderator has control over the comments.... oOOOOOOHHHHHH.

  22. You get what you deserve5:52 am, June 04, 2010

    Very good article.
    Some may argue the way the figures are potrayed but one should not forget the way the money was spent as well. Your final point about how oneill brings stability cannot be better contrasted than with Rafa, who brought in 76 players during his reign. How was the money spent?
    Buy Crouch, sell crouch, buy bellamy, sell bellamy, buy morientes, sell morientes, buy numerous fullbacks (he absolutely loves buying full backs), sell most of them after a couple of years, buy 'next-big-thing' promising youngsters, see them next-to-never show their potential for the first team, buy robbie keane, sell robbie keane, try to sell xabi alonso, sell xabi alonso following season, and worst of all, when you only have one proper striker and your team is in dire need of a good backup striker, you dont go spending 18million on, yes you guessed it, yet another fullback and go whining to the press talking about the 'facts' that the team needs more investment.

  23. Net spend is the biggest load of rubbish ever.

    Atleast we do not have to go through the "Rafa was not backed issue" anymore because...

    HE IS GONE!!! YNWA  :-$

  24. So we agree on one thing for sure

    it's easy to "prove" your point if you ignore the variables that don't suport your case. you do it every week in your analyses and i've done the same, above.

    You say "O'Neill has taken Villa as high in the league as it's possible to go" - why is that? is he not a good enoughj manager? where is that additional investment (18m EXTRA a season on average) going? It's certainly not improving his team (based on league position , points, trophies NOT dry accounts or statistics)

    You don't have a leg to stand on with the MON / Villa analyssi and i 'm guessing you know that - hence your rather weak response to the  points I made

  25. I'll argue it!

    No additional funds were given for 3 consecutive transfer windows to a coach who had the team at the brink of winning a title in 08/9 (in fact the club made a profit on sales over that period)

    Does that smell like ownership who are desperate to win stuff?

    there has simply been no footballing ambition at the top of the club, largely because H+G are business cowboys out for a fat payoff

  26. Devil's Advocate8:39 am, June 04, 2010

    net spend is not irrelevant (otherwise why would it exist in records) it shows the money that has been invested on top of the money recoupped

  27. there seems to be a few people with their knickers in a twist about the word "net" - they need to chill out a bit

    "net" along with "gross" , "wage bill", "club ambition" and "initial squad quality" are all important factors that have to be considered. No one can argue that one factor is totally preeminent

  28. Decent analysis, however there is another damning piece of evidence for Benitez: The wage bill - take that into account and the real level of the Spaniards backing compared with Villa managers can be assessed. 
    Five years ago Villa were still playing youth team players earning an absolute pittance while Benitez had a team stuffed with highly paid internationals.

    One more thing, Villa have just re-established ourselves as a serious second tier club and are in good shape to push on. Liverpool have just become a 2nd tier club again. Can you avoid the slide into the 3rd tier? Given the huge debt and the band of over paid under performers currently on the books it has to be doubtful.

  29. whether we'll bounce back to CL football remains to be seen ( i doubt it given emergence of mcfc and thfc), but i doubt that we'll do as badly as lasts season (assuming our squad is kept largely intact, of course)

    With Iain Dowie or Woy Hodgson at the helm we're sure to make a genuine push for the title

  30. you say "just"established ourselves as a serious second-tier club, but that was 3 seasons ago.

    Are you concerneed that despite concerted support and $$ from the owners, the club hasn't progressed significantly

  31. Rafa has gone, lets stop this Gross vs Net (untill the new manager spends a tonn and wins nothing but also has to sell his best players)

    Unless the owners put up more moeny net, then any manager, no matter how good will struggle. But this summer could be exciting, a new manager, maybe a new owner, maybe new hope.

  32. DRP: im not worried that he has taken us as far as he can go because that is not true, year after year we are getting a higher points total than before, and not only that we have bought ourselves a solid defence and goalkeeper with a good midfield with a. young , milner, petrov and downing, all this into account and the fact we have the best reserves team in the league with players just about to break through and the fact we just need maybe a attacking midfielder and a goalscorer and then we will already be improved massively because we will have a fantastic defence and a creative midfield with a goalscorer, i think with that and some reserves and new players coming in as backup or even starters would leave us with a great chance of top 4 because wed be able to play those players wen our players get tired.

  33. yeah ian dowie will get u the title :-D  lol ur in that much debt Mourinho Wouldn't stop u from getting relegated

  34. your figure for average gross spend by aston villa managers reads 53.5, which is obviously wrong my some margin.

    by your own numbers that should read 24.5.

    not sure the value of using balance sheet "disposal of player registrations" to create a net spend transfer figure anyway tbh since we're talking about "profit" derived from selling a player for more than his depreciated value on the balance sheet, rather than what was paid for him at the time or other players bought during the same period.

    it's accounting jiggery pokery if you ask me and not particularly enlightening when it comes to judging a manager's transfer dealings for the average fan.  technically correct yes, but if the reader doesn't have a grasp of things such as amortization and depreciation it's just smoke and mirrors i'm afraid.

  35. Jaimie - am I correct in assuming that you wish these figures to be accurate? Have you consulted anyone who can read a balance sheet (in particular someone who has experience of reading those for football clubs) about the figures you've pulled out of the accounts?

    Because looking at the parts of the accounts which you've pulled out, it looks like that might be a good plan. 

    The figures you're using may well be those which include such notable signings as Goodwill and Intellectual Property, who we seem to sign every season. Not every Intangible Asset is a player although all players are accounted for as Intangible Assets.

    You also don't seem to account for the fact that very few transfer fees are paid in full within the financial year that a transfer was initially made, nor do you seem to make provision for exceptional costs such as sell-on clauses etc being triggered either as a debit or a credit.

    This might be the reason why you've been unable to find anyone producing similar figures to your own elsewhere, and hence the 'unique' nature of your findings. It's hard to compare apples to oranges, harder still to compare apples to the whole fruit counter and one is really pushing it when one doesn't know the difference between meat and fruit.

    For reference, Manchester United release half yearly figures, and the impact on the bottom line is currently available if one wishes to see how Ronaldo's transfer distorted the general outlook and how without such a transfer things look much less rosey at Old Trafford.

    With regards,


  36. Zebedee - Please don't try and make out the figures are wrong without even looking at the accounts themselves.

    In football accounts, Intangible Fixed assets constitute sales and purchases of players ONLY.  That is made explicitly clear in the notes section.  Any intangible asset that is NOT a player, i.e. Intellectual property/goodwill etc is separately accounted for and specifically delineated.  There is no way for any confusion on that front.

    Re installment and exceptional costs: the disposal/additions figures include total amounts payable/paid. Elsewhere in the report, there is a specific breakdown of the things you mention.

    As I've explained a million times to various people, I have had the figures checked.  They are accurate.  They are irrefutable.

  37. Jaimie - I have the full accounts in front of me now. Would you like to go through 2008/9 with me?

  38. On the face of Martin O'Neill has done the same job for three years running but:-

    Three years ago we finished in a respectable Premier League position. However we took the precaution of getting knocked out of every cup nice and early which made the efforts in the league more manageable. Last season we reached the League Cup Final and the FA Cup Semi Final and still we finished sixth in the league.

    If you want to be a serious team you need to compete on all fronts which we are now doing.

    This is this fact that should worry Liverpool fans. Despite being dumped out every cup much earlier than usual (whether by accident or design) the resources were still not sufficient to look serious in the league.

    Next season with a couple of "net" additions, which we can afford, we will be stronger again. I am satisfied and, but for a couple of bad Wembley refereeing decisions I might even be delighted right now :( .

  39. A cut and paste error on my part.  I've changed the figure. 

    It's not jigger-pokery at all. It is accurate, and and infinitely more accurate way of calculating transfer spending than adding up figures taken from newspaper reports.

  40. As I said - look at the Intangible Fixed asset's section; you will see the 'Goodwill' section is completely separate from the player figure, which is labelled 'players' registrations'.  Then check the figure for 2008-9 I have used for Benitez:  It is 45.2m - the correct figure, NOT Players + Goodwill (which is 52m)

    intellectual property is NOT included in the players' registrations sections.  That is clearly a dubious assertion.

  41. Jaimie - please check note 1 on accounting policies within the 2008/9 accounts where the intellectual property relating to the acquisition of Koptv and where and how this is accounted for ie under intangible assets. Note that my point is that intangible assets are not always the same as player registration costs which might explain your confusion over this.

    Note the difference between the accounting practices from eg 2005 where Intangible Assets are not differentiated to eg 2008/9 where they are.

    Do you see why comparing the figures for 2005 and 2009 might not be comparing exactly the same things?

    It's also worth highlighting the trade debt which existed prior to Benitez arriving (remember, transfer fees paid are rarely paid fully within the same financial year as the transfer) and thus the point over you not accounting for this.

    eg A player bought at 2 million a year over five years by Ged in his last season, under your figures, would increase Benitez spend by that same 2 million over the next four years. You make no allowance for trivialities such as that or even sell-on clauses made by Ged (in either direction) being triggered while Benitez was manager. That's 8 million wasted by one manager using your logic, rather than 10 million by another. Or vice versa as the case may be as I'm making a more general point here over your use of these figures.

    For reference, net profit in the transfer market is clearly stated in the 08/09 accounts (it's in the notes at the beginning of the accounts) absent only any clauses being triggered in either direction between late February 2010 and end of July 2010.



  42. Zebedee - why do you refuse to see the point?  As I explained, Goodwill is SEPERATELY DELINEATED.  The figure for player registrations is completely separate to the goodwill figure.  It is not 'mixed in', which is you're suggesting.  I have attached an image to prove this.

    I don't have time or inclination to address your other points.  I've done so a hundred times on various threads. You make assumptions and suppositions based on no evidence.  Net profit is irrelevant;  We need absolute figures, i.e. what was actually spent and received.  Just looking at profit is inaccurate.

  43. Jaimie - that's a very pretty picture thank you. Could you find a similar delineation in the 2005 accounts? That is my point when you try to do so and fail.

    Net profit being irrelevant is hardly the view of our current owners who are the ones who control the purse strings at the squad. Your search for 'absolute' figures is hard to understand given that at no point do you account for spending on players being spread over several financial years while their book value is amortised over the life of their contracts with the accounts showing any profit or loss based solely upon that book value.

    Perhaps you address it elsewhere when you tell people that Benitez spent £70 million a season for two seasons by trying to shoehorn transfers conducted in one financial year solely by accounting for them in that year at inflated prices?

    I remain confused by your purpose,



  44. Zebedee - the reason there is no mention of goodwill etc in the 2005 accounts is because THERE WAS NONE IN THAT YEAR.  This is blindlingly obvious.  if anything other than player sales/purchases appears in intangible fixed assets it will be referenced.

    You remain confused because you are confusing yourself.

  45. It is indeed blindingly obvious why goodwill is present after the sale of Liverpoolfc.tv and not prior to then.

    Can I ask you why you don't consider moneys paid out in a financial year as not being the same as transfer fees negotiated in that year in the same light?

  46. I'm a Villa fan and I agree in most part with DRP. I predicted before last season that Liverpool would struggle without Alonso and that sale would be the end of Rafa, but I also thought that Villa would do no better than 6th because that man, MON's, thinking on football is so antiquated that 6th is the best we can ever hope with him!

  47. Zebedee - I deleted your post because I'm not going to allow you or anyone else to muddy the waters with half-baked propaganda and misinformation.  You continue to misinterpret the accounts and incorrectly interpret what I say in my articles. For example, I did NOT ignore the RBS interest LFC is liable for - I poasted an article highllight how much interest LFC pays to H+G's holding company.  That was the focus of the article: interest relatede ONLY to H+G.  RBS had nothing to do with it.  That's a completely separate issue.

    You, however, posted something arguing that I had made a factual mistake; that I had ignored the RBS interest.  If you cannot be bothered to interpret what I write correctly, then I'm not going to keep your posts on the site. 

    It is clesar - like most other fans - you have a preconceivwed notion of what's correct based on media reports/LFC forums.  You then try and fit your view around what you alread think is correct, instead of looking at things with fresh eyes and searching for the truth.

    Fans like you don't want to know he truth; you want things to sound bad; you want the false figures to be out there because it makes H+|G look even worse.  The truth is nowwhere near as bad as that, but don't let that get in the way of sensationalising everything, eh?

    Whether you like it or not, the extent of LFC's debt is 226m (+30m due next year).  The amount owed to H+G is 100.8m.  The interest owned to H+G is 9.3m.  When the cluib is sold, all LFC's debts will be paid off.  The debts of the holding companies are down to H+G, and they will use the money they get from the sale to pay those off, whicch they are entitled to do.

    LFC is NOT liable for the debts of the various holding companies; the club is under no legal or contractual obligsation to pay those debts off.  H+G cannot take money out of the club to pay them off - accounting law/principles prevents that.

    These are the facts; checked by several accountants.  I don't give a damn whether you or any other narrow-minded LFC fans believes it or not.  Truth is truth.  End of story.

  48. MON has won nothing while in charge of villa while Rafa Benitez won a champions league and an fa cup plus he reached another 2 champions league semi finals including another final. He also won a super cup and a charity shield so who is the best manager of the two?
    O neill is a one dimensional long ball merchant who chokes when the going gets tough.
    He was also public enemy number 1 when at forest back in the late 70's.
    Stick with Villa Martin,you are not wanted here.

  49. Jaimie Kanwar your Liverpool-kop website is a joke.

    I posted 2 non offensive, post on here yesterday, you dilerbratly didn't put them on.

    They weren't offensive, they were to do with season tickets price increase.

    I made an observation, you didn't like it so you censored it.

    That's just not on.

    You will probably not post this one too.

    Well 'am just gonna keep copying and pasting it every 10 mins or so.

    At least some people WILL get to see it !