From £650 to £25m - the evolution of Norwich City’s record sales
- Credit: Everton FC
A busy transfer window saw Norwich City break their transfer sales record – CHRIS LAKEY looks at the big money departures over the years
David Ross was the Teemu Pukki of his day - 47 goals in two seasons is not to be sniffed at.
At the time Ross was knocking them in, City were playing at The Nest and the Canaries nickname was just about taking hold.
And for £650, you could buy the young striker ... which is what Manchester City did. Ross thereby became the first name on the list of Norwich City transfers records. Since his departure in 1907 a further 20 players have joined him. The most recent, Ben Godfrey, will pocket more than that £650 just for the first half of his Everton debut. And with plenty left over for a Nandos for the lads.
Back in 1907, though, players were very much commodities of the club, owned by them, in some cases almost enslaved by them. The captains of industry owned the clubs, the players powerless. Incidentally, the British record transfer fee in 1907 was £1,000.
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It was 13 years before Ross’s City record was broken, when Sam Jennings went to Middlesbrough for £2,250 - that’s the equivalent of around £100,000 today.
Big money transfers were few and far between, but by the time Mulbarton’s finest Monty Norman went to Tottenham in 1955 City banked £17,250. Still, the sales game was very different to now.
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“I only knew about Spurs’ interest in me when I was called into Tom Parker’s (Norwich manager) office,” said Norman. “He advised me to take the offer - a transfer fee of £18,000 plus a swap with Johnny Gavin, who wanted to return to Norwich. Tom Parker said he needed transfer money to build floodlights as at the time, Norwich did not have any. It was a complete surprise to me. I was enjoying playing for Norwich and my dad always watched me from the terraces.”
It was in February 1979 when football saw its first £1m player - and it was almost a national scandal at the time. This hedonistic sport had gone too far – and then we all got used to it.
City joined the £1m club in 1980 when Kevin Reeves was sold to Manchester City - a club which in the early 80s threw an awful lot of cash around, not always ending up with quality players like Reeves.
Dave Watson, Robert Fleck and Ruel Fox cracked the City record books before, in 1994, Chris Sutton became the most expensive player in British football when he went to Blackburn for £5m.
Sutton’s arrival took Blackburn’s spending total to £26m in three years under Kenny Dalglish and meant he had five players who cost £2m or more at his disposal. Those were the days, eh?
Loud and clear in the background were accusations that then chairman Robert Chase was more interested in building plush new stands than developing a team - after all, his chairmanship had seen more than £20m worth of player sales.
It was six years before City beat that record, Craig Bellamy heading to Coventry, and another six before Dean Ashton went to West Ham for £7.25m.
Some sales are more controversial than others, but when your best players are sold on it can hurt. Robert Snodgrass, Nathan Redmond and Robbie Brady went for £8m, £12m and £13m respectively, and few would argue City didn’t do pretty well out of those deals.
The big one, though, was to come - and deep into ‘undisclosed fee’ territory. A youngster by the name of James Maddison pleaded for a chance at City rather than more loan time in Aberdeen/ He got his wish, and a star was born. He lit up the place and, in the end, saved it, keeping seem very hungry wolves from the door. His £24m sale to Leicester paid off a lot of bills. Fortunately, the fans understood. By that time, there were changes afoot at City and a new philosophy, of profiting from player development in order to self sustain. It;s business,. which is why Jamal Lewsi was sold to Newcastle – and not Liverpool on the cheap – and why Ben Godfrey became the most recent name in the record books.
Signed from York City for an initial £150,000 but with a variety of clauses, Godfrey was developed by City and, when ripe, sold, for £25m, rising to £30m.
Cracking money for Norwich City, but still way off the national trend: 18 years ago Manchester United paid Leeds more for Rio Ferdinand - apt, given that Godfrey and the former England centre-half have a business bond that has most definitely raised Godfrey’s profile where it needs it most.
There’s no shame in being nowhere near the British record - at the moment that is held by Liverpool who, in January 2018, sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for a staggering £105,000,000.
Coutinho struggled, went to Bayern on loan and is now back at Barca trying to get his albeit high profile career going again.
1907 David Ross £650 Manchester City
1920 Sam Jennings £2,250 Middlesbrough
1935 Alf Kirchen £6,000 Arsenal
1955 Monty Norman £17,250 Tottenham
1963 Ollie Burton £31,500 Newcastle
1966 Ron Davies £55,000 Southampton
1966 Hugh Curran £60,000 Wolves
1973 David Cross £150,000 Coventry
1973 Graham Paddon £170,000 West Ham
1980 Kevin Reeves £1m Manchester City
1986 Dave Watson £1.2m Everton
1992 Robert Fleck £2.1m Chelsea
1994 Ruel Fox £2.25m Newcastle
1994 Chris Sutton £5m Blackburn
2000 Craig Bellamy £5.2m Coventry
2006 Dean Ashton £7.25m West Ham
2014 Robert Snodgrass £8m Hull City
2016 Nathan Redmond £12m Southampton
2017 Robbie Brady £13m Burnley
2018 James Maddison £24m Leicester
2020 Ben Godfrey £25m Everton