The signing of Michael Owen for £16m in 2005 marked the end of one of the longest periods in the history of Newcastle United that they didn’t break their own transfer record.  It had been nine years since the club broke the world’s record fee to sign Alan Shearer for £15m.  Though it’s understandable that having broken a world record, few clubs will go out and repeat the feat any time soon.

It wasn’t the longest Newcastle fans had waited to see a trophy signing like none before however.  We have to go back 80 years for that.  There were ten years between signing Jack Hill from Burnley for £8,100 in 1928 and Harry Clifton from Chesterfield for £8,500 in 1938.

That eighty year record stood until summer 2015, which marked 10 years since the signing of Owen.  Now, as we approach summer 2017 the unprecedented streak continues and we look set to hit 12 years between Newcastle record signings.

For now, we can only dream about which players will arrive in the summer.  If promoted, the cash currently sloshing around the Premier League is such that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think the club would move into another level of investment that matched the ambition of the appointment of Rafa Benitez.

Newcastle fans know better than most that spending big doesn’t necessarily deliver players or a team that will automatically match their valuation or the fervent expectation that goes with it, so I’m not suggesting this is a necessity, we all love a bargain bit of business, but it goes without saying that big arrivals arriving on big fees will stir the imagination of supporters like nothing much else.

Most of us will view the Shearer signing as the epitome of this.  With his purchase, Newcastle didn’t break their previous record, they smashed it to smithereens.  A 124% increase on the £6.7m previously paid for Faustino Asprilla.  It was audacious and incredible and in my youthful naivety, I assumed unprecedented at St James’ Park.

But the club historians and supporters over 110 years old know better.  Asking about on Twitter I was able (I think) to list all of the club’s record fees, and thanks to the input of these more learned fans, I found that it’s another of Newcastle’s world record signings that has the Shearer signing beat in terms of how far it stretched the club from the previous record.  George Wilson was a £1,600 signing from Irish side Distillery in 1907 and that fee eclipsed the previous record of £700 for Andy McCombie (himself a world record signing for the club) by 129%.

The McCombie signing had contributed to the club having won two league titles in three seasons prior to Wilson’s arrival.  Newcastle were already at the peak of the game.  Splashing out on Wilson for outside left helped them to their third title in five years, in the 1908/1909 season.

Imagine!  In 2017, this would be like us spending £90m+ to outdo the Pogba signing at Man U, and then going and doing it again by 2020.   But then again, not really, even accounting for inflation, the figures back then were miniscule.  Here’s how the Newcastle United record transfer fee has progressed through the years, with actual fees and what they would be in 2016 using Bank of England inflation.  World records have been highlighted:

newcastle united record transfer feenewcastle united record transfer feeThis is football, the national game, prices always have and always will sky-rocket at rates far beyond inflation.  We’re clearly not going to be in the Pogba market, but if we’re going to finish mid-table we don’t have to throw silly money around, but we have to be willing to keep pace with the spending of other clubs and outbid those clubs we’re competing with to make signings the manager has identified as important.

newcastle united record transfer feenewcastle united record transfer fee

Since starting to write this, reports that Ben Gibson would be deemed too expensive for Newcastle at £20m have served to highlight the concern many fans have.  It could be paper talk, but it fits what we’ve come to expect, even while Gibson matches the club criteria of being a young lad with potential to improve his valuation, even after spending £80m in our last premier league season, doubts still remain about the willingness to push the boat out to secure the players we need to fill specific gaps the most, at a premium.  The fear is we will remain bargain hunters.  I hope Rafa is not frustrated if he does the job of getting us promoted.

Thanks to @paulbrownUK, @Guisboroughmags, and @ToonOldFan for providing much of the older data for NUFC record transfers.  Player fees might be on wikipedia, but knowing which fees were records is something else, and all knowledge is theirs or sourced by them, while any mistakes, if there are any, are mine and will be gratefully corrected.

You can follow the author on Twitter @bigchrisholt

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Leazesl Ender

    We’ll never see an Ashley in Milan… Ashley spends a budget that is 8th to10th and expects an 8th to 10th place…. it doesn’t work as a strategy because players like to have a goal….

    How is he going to sell the clubs policy to Rafa?

    He’ll string him along with empty words and promises for as long as he can and Rafa will play along as long as he thinks he has control….

    • Leicester Mag

      As history has shown it is actually really difficult to bob like a cork floating in or around 8-10. Mediocrity quickly tips into failure, like walking up a down escalator. Will this porky leopard change his spots? 10 years provides little reason to believe so.

  • Jezza

    We will never break our incoming transfer record under Fatman. Fatman has of course broken our outgoing transfer fee record many times. You can’t escape the fact that all the biggest transfer deals this club have done since Fatman took over involved players we sold. That is the way Fatman operates. Footballing ambition has gone right out of the window in the pursuit of constant financial profit.

  • Vodkamagpie

    If promoted, Rafa will spend over 100Mil

    • Jezza

      Rafa might spend £100 million in the summer but if he does it won’t be for NUFC it will be for which ever more far ambitious club he has left us for.

      • Vodkamagpie

        It’s actually a disgrace that some fans think so little of ashley, even the name calling is pathetic, fatman/fatty. Correct me if I’m wrong, when ashley bought the club, he gave us a interest free loan of 130Mil odd to clear Newcastles debt. He payed outstanding monies owed on player transfers, effectively he has saved the club with millions.

        • Jezza

          None of what you said is correct. I am just flabbergasted that even after 10 years of evidence to the contrary some fans still think that Fatman is looking after the interests of Newcastle United. It beggars belief.

          • Vodkamagpie

            If you believe ashley is a bad football club owner, then be thankful you are not a Charlton, Sheffield United, Cardiff, Birmingham, Blackpool, Blackburn, Leeds, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Hull, Aston villa, Derby, Norwich, Wigan etc etc, fan. There are some truly terrible owners in the football world, with no plan or clue, one huge positive about ashley, he has made this club financially sound, and that leads to hiring world class managers.

          • Jezza

            You mean world class managers like Joe Kinnear, Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren?

          • Vodkamagpie

            Not my first choice of managers, but I can understand it, with the club finances being at a certain level, that attracts a certain type manager, surely you can see the improvement in the standard of managers, I don’t count carver, as he was a temp/caretaker as far as I’m concerned. Kinnear, pardew, mcclaren, benitez

          • Jezza

            The fatman has appointed an utterly disastrous series of no hopers as Newcastle manager because he has always run the footballing side of things at NUFC on an absolute shoestring. Even Chris Hughton who turned out to be a very decent manager only got the job because he was the cheapest possible option at the time. Yes Benitez is a huge improvement on them all but he only got the job because Fatman desperately needs NUFC back in the Premiership to once again act as a hugely successful free advertising vehicle for his sports shop business. Believe me if we were comfortably finishing 15th to 17th place in the Premiership every season, Benitez would never have got the Newecastle job as Fatman would have happily stuck with clowns like Pardew and McClaren indefinitely.

          • Vodkamagpie

            Believe as you please, but you are sorely wrong. Newcastle United fc is a massive asset for ashley, and he will look after it the best way he knows possible.

          • Jezza

            I agree NUFC is a huge asset for Fatman but footballing ambition is not part of that. As already stated he uses NUFC as a huge free advertising vehicle for his main business and he also uses the club to generate millions of Pounds of revenue in the transfer market and from television money. I’ll tell you something, if we get promoted, Fatman will be more than happy to see Rafa walk as long as he can replace him with some stooge on a third of the wages who will hopefully just manage to keep us in the Premiership. Just you wait and see.

          • Vodkamagpie

            He is the owner of the club, so if free advertising generates more money for his other business, compared to amount payed advertising would generate for the club, so be it. Ashley has forked out his own money in loans on two occasions I believe for the club, and don’t forget, he actually had to buy this club for the odd few million. You would have to expect him to try and make his money back with some kind of profit, he is a business man. I believe ashley will give Rafa over 100Mil to spend on players, so it’s up to Rafa If that’s good enough or not

          • Jezza

            You are living in fantasy land not to mention setting yourself up to look very foolish come the summer by predicting that Fatman will give Rafa £100 million for transfers. 10 years of precedent point unmistakably to Newcastle United’s summer transfer outlay being negligible to non existent.

          • Vodkamagpie

            You have no vision. To make a club good, you start from the inside, financial security even in the worst possible scenario. Build a squad of sellable assets, to nullify waste of millions in the transfer market. Doing that, you have made a platform for a world class manager to come in, as he will see the potential he has with the club. You have to be realistic, we don’t have an Russian or Arab, we have ashley, who is actually trying to build the club the right way.

          • Jezza

            Fatman is trying to build the club is he? Now I know you’re winding me up. He has sold every decent player we have ever had at the first opportunity. He has made a long series of utterly farcical managerial appointments, spectacularly under invested in the transfer market and relegated us twice within 10 years.

          • Vodkamagpie

            Yes, what was ashley thinking, hiring scouts to find good players, that will attract interest from bigger clubs, shocking. We should look at Sunderland, spending money on rubbish, Johnson, Rodwell etc, now that’s how you run a club. Another great owner, the Aston villa man. Just got relegated with not great assets in the squad to generate money, he declares he wants villa to be a top European team in five years. Most fans would of loved him to take over at Newcastle and make that ridiculous statement, but I for one, think it’s crazy believing that all that fans want, is a owner that throws every penny of their wealth, only to be criticised when things don’t go as planned, that is football, unpredictable

          • Jezza

            There’s just no getting through to you. Fatman has got absolutely zero interest in bringing football success to Newcastle United. He just wants to exploit the club and bleed it dry. It’s pointless going on like this any further. Let’s adjourn this discussion till 1st September. You think Fatman will put up more than £100 million for new players in the summer while I believe everything points to NUFC spending equal to or less than what ever they bring in from player sales. Come 1st September it will be clear which one is right. I’m extremely confident it will be me.

          • Vodkamagpie

            Agreed, let’s see if we get promoted first