Michael Owen became the most expensive signing in the history of Newcastle United Football Club when he joined for a fee of around £16 million in the summer of 2005.
Many predicted this transfer would help Newcastle in becoming a force in English football, and a club who would spend whatever was necessary to attract the best players and push for major honours. But, almost thirteen years have passed, and Owen remains the most expensive player in the history of Newcastle United Football Club.
As transfer fees throughout football have grown exponentially, clubs have been forced to spend more in order to keep themselves in with a chance of cutting it among the best teams domestically and across Europe.
Unfortunately for the loyal fans of Newcastle United, their club’s failure to make those big marquee signings could be the reason why they are no longer thought of as one of the big boys in English football.
History of NUFC’s Transfer Record
When Harry Clifton joined Newcastle from Chesterfield for a fee of £8,500 in 1938, the club broke their transfer record which had stood for ten years. This length of time between Newcastle breaking their transfer record was itself a record until 2016.
In the summer of 2015, it was ten years since Owen had become Newcastle’s record signing and that equalled the time between Jack Hill and Harry Clifton. In 2016, the previous record was broken and this summer it will be thirteen years without the club breaking its record transfer fee.
Newcastle had gotten close to matching the previous time between breaking their transfer record, with it being nine years between Alan Shearer and Michael Owen. Which was surprising, considering they broke their transfer record seven times between 1993 and 1996.
Andy Cole became the first million-pound player in the club’s history when he signed for £1.75m in 1993. A year later, Ruel Fox and Darren Peacock both broke the record within a month of each other, and a year later Warren Barton and Les Ferdinand were also record breakers.
Faustino Asprilla was signed for £6.7m in February 1996, but his record fee was shattered when Shearer joined the club before the start of the 1996/97 season. The £8.3m difference was a rise of 123.88% on the previous record fee paid out.
Michael Owen’s transfer fee was over £1m more than what the club paid for Shearer nine years earlier and still remains as Newcastle’s record signing, much to the dismay of the Toon Army.
The Rise of Transfer Fees Since 2005
When Owen joined Newcastle in 2005, his fee was nowhere near as much as the British or World record at the time.
The British record transfer fee was £29.1m paid by Manchester United for Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United in 2002. The world record fee was £46.6m for Zinedine Zidane, who joined Real Madrid from Juventus for that fee in 2001.
Since then, both of these records have been shattered several times and currently stand at £198m for the world record fee and £89.7m for the British record. That £89.7m is the record fee paid out by a British club, which was achieved when Paul Pogba joined Manchester United in July 2016.
However, the overall British transfer record is the £105m Barcelona paid to Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho in January 2018.
Taking football inflation into account, the approximate £16m paid for Owen would equate to around £80m in the market today, according to a recent Betway blog post.
Newcastle in the Transfer Market Since 2005
Newcastle have spent money in the transfer market since signing Owen, with three of their top five most expensive players in history being signed in 2015.
However, taking the fact that Owen would be worth around £80m in the market today and he’s still their record signing, shows that the club have spent nowhere near enough to keep up with their rivals.
Newcastle’s most expensive signing since Owen joined the club is Georginio Wijnaldum, who cost £14.5m from PSV in July 2015, and there have also been several players signed for around £12/£13m.
Nobody expects Newcastle to be spending as much as the £80m Owen would reportedly be worth today, but their failure to bring in a marquee signing and at least keep up with most other bottom-half Premier League teams is a big worry for their fans.
Only five Premier League clubs have a lower record transfer fee than Newcastle, with even historically tight spenders Crystal Palace and Leicester City having records nearing £30m.
When Owen signed for Newcastle, the club were hoping to push on and constantly challenge for at least a top-six position. Now, they are in the bottom half of the table having last year been playing in the Championship.
Their failure to keep up with other clubs in the transfer market could be the main reason why they haven’t fulfilled the promise they showed and why they haven’t gone on to become a force in English football.