‘If real world inflation matched football a loaf would cost us £12’

What would West Ham’s stars of yesterday be worth if they were playing today?

Money, money, money – must be funny in a rich man’s world. The Premier League has seen noticeable changes when it comes to player values since it’s formation in 1992 and it hasn’t even been a subtle transformation.

Now, thanks to TotallyMoney, we can visualise how transfers have changed over the years. Analysis has mapped out how much players would be worth if their transfers to a Premier League club had taken place in today’s money in a formula called ‘football player inflation’.

The formula takes into consideration the extra money floating around the Premier League thanks to bigger, family-friendly stadia, TV and advertising rights, and merchandise opportunities. Here are a few of the standout transfers involving the Hammers the last 26 years:

Rio Ferdinand

Rio’s transfer from West Ham to Leeds United in 00/01 raised eyebrows at the time due to its record-breaking nature. The Hammers let the fan favourite go for nearly £18million, which was a huge deal. Just take a seat before I tell you what the index has worked out this transaction could be worth in 18/19. He could have left East London for a whopping £78million in today’s money. This kind of money puts him alongside the likes of Romelu Lukaku (who transferred to Man Utd for £75million last season) and more expensive than fellow defender Virgil van Dijk (who moved to Liverpool for £69million in 17/18). If Leeds were to sell Ferdinand to Manchester United in the same circumstances today, they’d see nearly £122million coming in. It could be suggested that these two transfers of one player shaped the path for record transfers and led to price tags continuing to spiral.

Top outgoings

We’ve already seen that the biggest money would have changed hands for Ferdinand. Interestingly, what could have been the club’s second highest transfer out is John Hartson. Only at West Ham for two seasons, if sold today he’d be worth £47million. Frank Lampard would be worth £42.7million. We let him go for just under £10million in 01/02 – a move that many see as the catalyst for the rocky period to follow.

The 03/04 exodus

Following relegation in 2003, we tried our best to retain as much of our young, sometimes homegrown talent as possible. Having lost Rio Ferdinand in 00/01 and Frank Lampard in 01/02 the ‘dream team’ was already starting to crumble. The 03/04 season saw Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Freddie Kanoute, Trevor Sinclair, David James and Ian Pearce head for the exit door. The combined income for those transfers, at the time, was around £29million. ‘Football player inflation’ would find those players leave for £123.2million, over four times what those players were seen to be worth at the time. Those sums may just have made relegation a bit easier. But I guess it’s all relative – the more you get from outgoing transfers, the more you pay for players incoming.

Top transfers in

It comes as no surprise that the highest transfer fee equivalents today would be Tevez and Mascherano. Mascherano tops the table as it suggests we could pay around £46.8million in today’s money. Tevez comes in at £100,000 less. Of all the players West Ham have brought in whilst in the Premier League, I didn’t expect Matthew Upson to be the third most expensive in today’s money! Signed for £8.6million in 06/07, his equivalent cost would be £41million today. On joining from Arsenal, we paid just over £3.5million for John Hartson. We could expect to pay £33miiion for his services in modern money. Felipe Anderson comes in as the fifth highest incoming transfer, which shows the scale of investment this summer.

Of course, all of the above information is relative to the time transfers took place, the football market and economy. To put a little context in to this, TotallyMoney have reminded us that in 1992, when the Premier League started, a loaf of bread cost around 55p. If bread had followed inflation in the same way football has, we’d be paying over £12 for a sliced white loaf. There’s something to digest.

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