“Reading the obituary of Colin Flatt in the latest issue of Backpass reminded me that, back in 1967, he paid his own transfer fee (£200) to join Romford from Wisbech,” writes Chris Grant. “Unusual, but does anyone know of any others who’ve done that?”
We should start by saying that there is always a certain element of negotiation in most transfer deals and they have become more complex over time, meaning the structure of them is often unknown. But we can find some that have been written about publicly. James Jennett points us towards Fernandinho, who dug into his own pockets to smooth his move to Manchester City from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013.
The Manchester Evening News reported at the time: “Fernandinho was so desperate to join City that he paid a £4m chunk of his own [£34m] transfer fee … when it looked like the move might stall over the Ukrainian club’s demands, Fernandinho offered to forgo £4m he was owed by Shakhtar in order to push the move through, meaning City ended up paying £30m.” The move hasn’t worked out badly for him or City.
It was widely reported that Philippe Coutinho paid somewhere between £9m and £11.5m to reduce the fee Barcelona paid Liverpool for him to £142m so he could live the dream at Camp Nou in 2018. Ouch. “Philippe, welcome. We know that you have made a personal and economic effort [to be here],” said Barça’s then vice-president, Jordi Mestre, hinting at the player’s monetary assistance.
Will Hughes informs us that the former Croatia winger/full-back Danijel Pranjic “was so desperate to join Bayern Munich from Heerenveen in 2009 that he covered the €700,000 shortfall between what Bayern were willing to pay (around €7m) and what Heerenveen were demanding.” Pranjic told Voetbal International: “I got a phone call that Heerenveen’s asking price was still a problem for Bayern. That’s when I made the decision to pay the difference. The transfer has cost me a serious amount of money, but I’m happy that it’s official now.”
And in February 2020, the former Scotland defender Kirk Broadfoot claimed that he stumped up to push through a move from St Mirren to Kilmarnock. “I decided to pay the fee because that is how much I wanted to come back and play for Alex [Dyer] and the club again,” he said, though this was disputed by St Mirren manager Jimi Goodwin. “I’m not aware Kirk paid the transfer fee,” he said. “I don’t think there’s been any fee agreed.”
Not even top scorers at your own ground
“Doncaster Rovers play at the Keepmoat Stadium, and have scored eight league goals there this season (plus two in the EFL Trophy),” reported Joe Reaney, before Donny added a couple more in successive home games. “England Women scored 20 in the same venue. Has it ever happened that a season’s top scorers in a stadium were not the home team?”
In terms of players, Jason Maxwell has this: “Austin FC is an MLS expansion team that started in 2021 and opened their new stadium, Q2. This year they had multiple players top-score with four home goals. But Ricardo Pepi, a striker for FC Dallas, scored twice in their match at Q2 stadium. He also scored twice in the USA’s 2-0 win over Jamaica in World Cup qualifying, played at Q2 stadium. So he ties Austin’s top home scorers for most goals in the stadium this year.”
But Michael Haughey has us covered on the team front. “An example would be when another team has to share their ground for various reasons,” he begins. “Manchester United scored more league goals at Maine Road than Manchester City in each of the three seasons they shared a ground after the second world war. And Charlton Athletic scored more goals at Selhurst Park than Palace in 1985-86 and 1990-91, the first and last seasons that they shared a ground.”
The nitty gritty (2)
Last week we asked if you had any more stories of gravel pitches being used for high-level matches …
Craig Turp got in touch with this example: “Probably the last gravel pitch to be used at a high level (at least in Europe) was Malta’s Empire Stadium in Gzira, which was still hosting international matches in the 1980s. There is footage here of a match between Malta and Poland from 1980 (a World Cup qualifier) which shows just how difficult the pitch was to play on (Malta were rarely beaten heavily on it). That particular game ended early due to crowd trouble, and Malta only played once more at Gzira, in 1981 against the GDR (some scratchy footage here). In 1982 – after a brief exile in Sicily as a consequence of the repeated crowd trouble – the Maltese national team (and Maltese clubs – most had hosted their home matches at Gzira) moved to the grass pitch at the newly-built Ta’ Qali Stadium. Only part of the Empire Stadium survives, mainly its exterior walls. Little is left of its stands and terracing.”
“What is the longest transfer, in miles, in the UK,” asked Fraser Thomas in November 2011. “I’m thinking of an InverCaly to Truro City kind of thing.”
First, therewwas a player who has made this trip a couple of times. “Aberdeen have fairly recently re-signed Chris Clark from Plymouth,” noted Steve Dickie. “It’s 620.8 miles from Home Park, Plymouth, to Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, according to the AA Route Planner. If it’s not the longest (in distance) UK to UK transfer single transfer then it’s surely the furthest back-to-back round trip.” But ToffeeDan1 went 2.9 miles better – it’s 623.7 miles between Bournemouth’s Dean Court and Ross County’s Victoria Park. “First John O’Neill left Bournemouth for Ross in 2001 and then Derek Holmes made the reverse journey in 2002.”
Can you help?
“Who is the all-time Boxing Day top scorer?” wonders Stephen Grassley. “And which footballer has scored the most goals between Christmas Day and 1 January in a single season?”
“Do any clubs have festive-themed mascots?” enquires Sarah Bliss.
“With the ‘packed Christmas fixture list’ coming up, what’s the dullest series of Christmas games we’ve ever had?” tweets Toby Scott. “Fewest goals overall or most 0-0 draws.”