Neymar’s record fee is early, but £100m deals are set to become the norm, says PwC


By Mark Baber

August 16 – After analysing transfer activity at Europe’s top 20 clubs, global accountancy network price Waterhouse Cooper  (PwC) has forecast transfer fees for individual players could surpass £100 million on a regular basis by 2025, with Neymar’s record fee of £198 million coming 5-7 years before trends would have suggested.

PwC tracked all transfers involving the top 20 ranked UEFA clubs from 2001 to the current window in addition to the 20 largest deals by these clubs in each season to work out an average for both. These were analysed alongside the progression of club revenues and the world record transfer fees.

They found the average for the largest 20 transfer fees this season, excluding the Neymar transfer, is £35 million, with the overall average being £15 million for the top 20 clubs. They calculate the average fee for the largest 20 transfers will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% to reach £65 million by the 2024/25 season.

According to Philip Shepherd, partner in PwC’s Sports & Leisure practice: “Our analysis indicates that by 2025, £100 million transfers will be more prevalent as spending continues to follow the escalating growth of club revenues. The record-breaking sale of Neymar this summer is a unique case, at five times the average price of the next 20 biggest transfers so far this summer.  Historically the range for the world record transfer has been between 2.5-3 times the average of the next 20 largest fees. On this basis, we would have expected to see a record transfer fee at the level of the reported fee for Neymar in around 5-7 years’ time.”

Jonathan Blausten, senior consultant in PwC’s Sports & Leisure practice, added: “Our analysis raises some interesting questions around the relationship between transfer spend and revenue. In the past three to four seasons revenue has grown consistently at 3% per annum faster than average transfer fees, driven primarily by the fast-growing media rights deals and large sponsorship deals reflecting the continuing globalisation of European football. This suggests many clubs aren’t fully flexing their muscles in the transfer market yet and we would not be surprised to see a step change in fees at the top of the market.”

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