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 £):
|–||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.