Liverpool vs Man United: Net Spend & League Position Comparisons

Liverpool and Manchester United are undeniably the two most successful clubs in English football. Between the two clubs, they have won 38 First Division / Premier League titles, 19 FA Cups, 13 League Cups, and 8 European Cup / Champions League trophies.

With this amount of success, the distance between the two clubs, and the history of the two cities, it is no surprise that there is also a fierce rivalry. Whenever there is a match between the two clubs, the Paddy Power football odds market can go crazy as multiple bets are placed. But how do these clubs compare to each other in terms of net spend and league position.

Before the formation of the Premier League, it can be quite difficult to find the transfer fees of certain players. In some cases, it can be difficult to find if any transfers were made at all.

The logical place to start from would be the Premier League as the player transfers are correctly listed. However, this would give a massive advantage to Manchester United, and it also ignores all of Liverpool’s success before the formation of the Premier League. The 1980/81 is probably the best place to start as transfers around this time are more accurately recorded, and it also includes some of the seasons where Liverpool also managed to win the title.

The following table shows the net spend of both clubs season-by-season (in millions £):

YEAR LIVERPOOL MANCHESTER UNITED
NET SPEND POSITION NET SPEND POSITION
1980 – 81 0.99 5th 1.57 8th
1981 – 82 0.83 1st 2.53 3rd
1982 – 83 – 0.16 1st 0.27 3rd
1983 – 84 0.86 1st – 0.09 4th
1984 – 85 1.43 2nd – 0.03 4th
1985 – 86 0.36 1st 0.61 4th
1986 – 87 – 3.00 2nd – 2.72 11th
1987 – 88 3.36 1st 2.43 2nd
1988 – 89 2.56 2nd 0.07 11th
1989 – 90 – 0.30 1st 8.79 13th
1990 – 91 1.85 2nd 1.17 6th
1991 – 92 2.48 6th 3.76 2nd
 
1992 – 93 – 0.06 6th 1.26 1st
1993 – 94 3.15 8th 6.78 1st
1994 – 95 8.37 4th 5.67 2nd
1995 – 96 15.80 3rd – 17.47 1st
1996 – 97 – 6.30 4th 2.91 1st
1997 – 98 14.43 3rd 11.08 2nd
1998 – 99 5.72 7th 34.38 1st
1999 – 00 34.13 4th 6.84 1st
2000 – 01 16.09 3rd 1.64 1st
2001 – 02 2.38 2nd 31.73 3rd
2002 – 03 18.00 5th 40.30 1st
2003 – 04 14.09 4th – 2.23 3rd
2004 – 05 30.45 5th 46.52 3rd
2005 – 06 22.51 3rd 21.51 2nd
2006 – 07 22.50 3rd 8.28 1st
2007 – 08 40.90 4th 51.51 1st
2008 – 09 22.95 2nd 34.02 1st
2009 – 10 – 5.79 7th – 69.36 2nd
2010 – 11 – 3.58 6th 10.38 1st
2011 – 12 39.26 8th 43.05 2nd
2012 – 13 54.13 7th 59.02 1st
2013 – 14 22.95 2nd 67.80 7th
2014 – 15 46.95 6th 131.46 4th
2015 – 16 32.44 8th 48.54 5th
2016 – 17 – 4.50 4th 124.06 6th
2017 – 18 37.62 137.61
 
TOTAL / AVG POS 495.85 5th 855.75 3rd

It’s no surprise that Manchester United dominate this table on average position considering they’ve been around the top of the league since the inception of the Premier League.

The two keys things which are highlighted in the comparison is that Manchester United have had a higher net spend and a higher average position. As mentioned earlier, United are expected to have a higher average position as they have outperformed Liverpool in terms of league position over this time period. However, the net spend makes for interesting reading.

From the table we can see that Liverpool has a net spend of £495.85 million compared to Manchester United’s net spend of £855.75 million. United’s figures have been inflated in the past few years thanks to the number of high-fee transfers they have been making. Even if you take away the previous four seasons for both clubs, United still have a larger net spend.

Net spend is a good way of looking at how much a club spends on transfers versus how much they receive from transfers. However, you can also use net spend to highlight some other key points. The main thing you can focus on is that Man Utd (£22 million) have a higher net spend on average per season than Liverpool (£13 million) since the 1980/81 season.

The net spend comparison also gives us an insight into the clubs transfer policy. Liverpool’s lower net spend suggests that the Merseyside club operates on a tighter budget and tries to sell players before their value plummets. Meanwhile, United’s high net spend suggests that their budget is much higher, and don’t worry about the re-sale value of their players. These factors give us an indication as to why Manchester United have performed better than Liverpool over the past few decades.

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