Transfer fees: Why we shouldn’t be worried about the £800k

One thing that passed by many in the accounts this month was the amount we have reportedly spent on transfer fees in the last financial year.

The Twitter account Price Of Football, @kieranmaguire, noted that we’ve spent as much on our squad as the rest of League Two put together. There was plenty of positive stuff coming out of the account around the time of our figures being released, but that in particular has got people thinking.

They’re essentially saying that we’re the big spenders in the division, not Mansfield or Forest Green. It’s an interesting angle and if transfer fees alone are taken into account, it’s perhaps fair. In terms of wages, we’re not wanting to pay over and above the going rate, which is where the accusations of buying the league come in to play when talking about the Stags.

The numbers from the account show that only Portsmouth and relegated Barnet spent as much on players as us, although our accounts are from June 2017 to June 2018. If the team name has no figure next to it, the accounts are for 2016/17. It’s worth remembering that these figures are nor conclusive, for instance Mansfield we know spent big on players in the summer but as yet, there’s no figures in their column as their accounts haven’t yet been released, either that or they’ve used creative accounting to keep their actual spend shrouded.

Where has our spend gone? Well, this figure includes agents fee and signing on fees, so it gives it some context. Any notion that we paid £500,000 for Bozzy and Anderson can be dispelled right now. This will include Matt Green who we’re thought to have paid a good-sized signing on fee too. There will be associated costs with Neal Eardley too, as well as the Peterborough boys. Assuming the pair from posh cost around £150,000, a figure I’ve seen quoted, that £800,000 drops significantly. There’s a rumoured £100,000 in the Matt Green deal, leaving £550,000 unaccounted for.

What about the captures of Ollie Palmer and Sean Long? Neither came from a club so is it reasonable to assume there may have been a signing on fee there? Josh Vickers also? Billy Knott came free from Gillingham, but at what cost in terms of agents? 

Courtesy Graham Burrell

There was also a boost in available funds in January and fees were paid for James Wilson, Lee Frecklington and Tom Pett. At the time, those fees were undisclosed, but could they account for a portion of that £550,000? They were all played down at the time, but what if there’s £250k right there? Bruno Andrade also falls into this period, so we’re talking about significant recruitment over the period covered.

Also, let’s not forget the income at the same time, something not taken into account. Sean Raggett and Alex Woodyard both moved on in this period, Raggett in the summer of 2017 and Woodyard in May 2018. Neither player went on the cheap but that income didn’t offset here. The figures simply shows expenditure.

I’ve already seen lots of opposition fans over-playing these numbers. We’re allegedly buying the league (but not paying £5k a week to a loan player). We’re living beyond our means with £20k a week losses, but few mention the same level of profit from the year before. Look at it this way, we only spent what we earned the year before. If you earned £1500 a month, but added £500 per month bonus to your savings, when you then spent £500 per month the next year it wouldn’t be coming out of your £1500, even though it would look like you were being decadent. We’ve spent what we’ve earned and may I say we’ve done a better job of it than Grimsby did when they were promoted, or Cambridge did when they had their cup run.

I won’t stop levelling accusations at Forest Green or Mansfield, whatever these figures say. Sure, we’ve spent money, but at a sustainable rate. Our board members are numerous and with no external loans, our self-sufficiency is there to see. Our crowds justify the spend, our success does the same. Have Mansfield had a big cup run recently, or have Forest Green won the EFL Trophy? No. They’re propped up by one person or business, if the benefactor goes, they go to.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

That’s not the case at Lincoln. We have strong cash reserves, we have not committed to wages we can’t afford to sustain into next year’s budget and where we have invested we’ve done so for the future. Mansfield, if they’re being honest with their figures, would show a huge wage bull but what will they have to show next season? Tyler Walker? Jorge Grant? No. We might have spent money but we keep our assets, we build not speculate.

It’s a brave new world for us though, isn’t it? Not so long ago you’d have to have your coffee without sugar in the ticket office because we couldn’t afford a bag of the white stuff. I’ve known us go years without paying a transfer fee, but here we are spending money and looking strong for it.

Long may it continue, as long as it is steady, measured and well-managed. I’ve no reason to think it won’t be.

On the subject of money, thank you to everyone who helped with my site costs yesterday. You’ve all been very generous and it is humbling. I’m adamant I’ll always keep the site free to use, hence the adverts and occasional donation button. For those who understand these things, I needed to renew my domain name yesterday, upgrade my hosting package as my memory usage has exceeded 8gb and upgrade my wordpress and jetpack subscriptions too. I am very, very grateful to everyone who helped out, thank you.






  1. Keep it going Gary. Your information and opinions are worth it to a lot of people.
    We value you! Even if we don’t always agree.

  2. The so called loss (in a 13 month financial year), is a planned loss and has been covered by investment cash and depleting some of the money in the bank, which still stands at over 2 million pounds. In the future however we can not say, that all money spent is all money earned. This is a sustainable model in the medium term using that money in the bank and if directors are still prepared to insert around 800,000 a year. I note a similar investment this year as well from directors and with increased revenue I expect a similar so called loss next season with probably a more dramatic fall in money in the bank. However this is a calculated gamble and sustainable in the short/medium term. When Bob was investing it was to keep us alive, this is an investment to progress further. The revenue gain between leagues two and one in terms of tv money is relatively small (all clubs get the same) however some new investors will need to be found in the long term as will more funds from the fans in terms of season ticket money. So whilst moans about short notice of renewals is understandably, it is bite your hand off time, given the likely increase in prices if we are promoted. Long may the success continue. remember when we never signed anyone for a fee!

  3. Must admit this is a bit of a surprise. However, a thought for you. I would expect that you have to book in the accounts the full fee that is payable upon any contingency- even if it isn’t payable immediately. I recall your friend the Peterborough chairman crowing about this last year when her thought we would win the playoffs and he suggested that would mean more money for them on the Bozzie/Harry deal. We might still ultimately have to pay the £800K of course, but my guess is that we have only paid a fraction so far given that various deals have similar clauses.

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