Aston Villa fans obviously aren’t thrilled with the recent news that Jack Grealish has departed for Man City, following a mammoth £100 million transfer that is said to have been in the works for months. However, while Man City will certainly be confident of their investment, especially given Grealish’s stellar cameo performances at the Euros this summer and his contribution to a scintillating Villa Park attack, there is no guarantee that the gargantuan sum they paid for him will pay off.
Given the transfer fee of this size were basically unheard of until as recently as five years ago, especially between clubs in the Premier League, it almost beggars belief that footballers are now regularly commanding such astronomical sums. So, why are top-flight transfer fees so high, and can it really be worth the money? Let’s dive in and find out.
How can football clubs afford it?
One question worth answering is how football clubs can even afford to spend billions on transfer fees. Admittedly, those of us who have ever paid for an Aston Villa season ticket and a matchday pint will know that the clubs are raking it in. However, ticket revenues do not even come close to covering the cost of transfer fees.
So, how do they pay the piper? One of the major sources of revenue is obviously broadcasting rights, especially overseas. Media companies will pay billions upon billions of pounds for the right to broadcast Premier League fixtures, which the clubs themselves will get a share of.
In addition, there are the sprawling merchandise empires of clubs like Villa and City, which have large and dedicated followings both inside and outside of England.
Then there are the commercial sponsorship deals. More than a dozen large companies pay to have their logo featured during Villa fixtures, with just one example being Cazoo, which has paid £12 million to have its logo on the current strip. All of this adds up to some substantial transfer cash.
How can Villa charge such huge fees?
Put simply, the reason the bigwigs at the top at Villa Park charged such an astronomical sum for Grealish is that they can’t afford to lose him. It’s no secret that his position in the squad was absolutely invaluable and his departure will undoubtedly affect the Claret and Blues’ position in the football betting odds for the upcoming season.
The club had to set the bar high to try and fend off as many offers as possible but, ultimately, no player is bigger or worth more than the club. Jack’s sale has allowed Dean Smith to reinvest funds across the park, bringing in numbers to provide a strength in depth that was evidently missing last season when the mercurial England winger suffered from injury.
What is the long-term revenue gain?
For Man City, it is worth asking what the actual long-term revenue gain is, and whether this will outweigh the £100 million they have spent so far. After all, this figure does not even include the reported £300,000 a week Grealish will be paid by the club. There are many calculations that Man City could have done when deciding that this was a worthwhile price to pay.
For one, Grealish is a sporting superstar at the height of his career. His presence on the Man City squad will attract sponsorships and endorsements from the very best brands, while broadcasters will be happy to pay a premium. These are the kinds of considerations that go into transfer fees, rather than simply the ability of the player to score goals.
Although some of the prices paid for footballers these days might seem barmy, the people behind those purchases have certainly crunched the numbers. What those numbers tell them is that they are always worth it.