£222m Shearer, £94m Keane, £89m Henry – how much the biggest Premier League transfers would cost today – The Athletic


In the summer of 1996 a loaf of bread cost around 55p, a pint of beer £1.75 and Alan Shearer £15m. Today you would be lucky to get a loaf for £1 and any change from £5 for a pint. A first Alan Shearer? Well, that’s a little harder to answer.

The easiest way to work out what a £15m England striker would cost you now is to use the Bank of England’s Inflation Calculator, which calculates the average rate of inflation over a period of time. List how much Newcastle United paid Blackburn Rovers for Shearer 26 years ago and he spits out a new price tag of £29.96million.

So there you have it, case closed.

Except it doesn’t really work.

As Britain’s economy boomed (the Bank of England’s calculator says it measured inflation for that period at an average of 2.8% per year), the football industry boomed.

The year after Shearer arrived at Newcastle, a new four-year deal with Sky TV was agreed for £670 million. Last year, during the coronavirus pandemic which suppressed spending, the Premier League signed a new TV deal for 2022-25 for £5.1billion – and that’s just domestic rights.

To give a more accurate picture of how transfer fees have evolved over time, and therefore what players like Shearer would now cost, we are indebted to football finance expert Kieran Maguire and his colleague Jason Laws from the University of Liverpool, who have developed a calculator that adjusts for football inflation, based on the increase in income over time.

These calculations convert historic Premier League transfer fees to their equivalent cost today. “Today” fees are based on 2019 money, as this was the last year not distorted by COVID-19, and gives a much more realistic reflection of the purchasing power that is displayed in-game modern.

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