Juan Mata’s transfer to Manchester United has pushed David Moyes’ spending close to £70 million. Commentators have been quick to point out this outlay on new players exceeds anything ever spent in one season by Sir Alex Ferguson’s during his twenty-seven years in charge.
This is not true.
Comparing nominal transfer spend across years, especially over a period of nearly thirty years, is quite meaningless.
Most people build in the costs of inflation when comparing wages, salaries, house prices, etc. over time. Yet we don’t seem to apply this logic to the transfer market.
Presented to the right is real data on United’s transfer spend from 2002 - 2013. 2005 is used as the base year when adjusting for inflation. Fergie’s splurge of almost £60 million in 2002 on Roy Carroll, Diego Forlan and marquee signings Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Veron, remain United’s most expense transfer period.
Assuming an inflation rate of 2.5% in 2014, this puts David Moyes on £52.6 million. Adjusting the rate of inflation, upwards and downwards by 1% does little to change this estimate. This makes it the 4th most expensive transfer season for the Red Devil’s behind 2002, 2008 and 2004. However, with a week to go until the window closes, Moyes may not be finished yet…