The Most Successful European Selling Clubs

According to the average football fans’ belief, the term “selling club” is defined by the negotiating skills a football club has for selling players to other clubs in the highest possible price, by taking advantage of its players’ contemporary market values. However, the above-mentioned perception is far apart from what a selling club comprises and even further away from what exactly makes a club successful in the sales’ domain.


This research delves into the criteria that are thought to be important for a selling club. The main purpose of the researcher is to identify which football clubs of Europe can be considered selling clubs or not and which of them are the most successful. In fact, by using certain scientific technique of analyzation, the researcher will try to answer to the questions which are the top selling clubs of European football during this decade and which will be the next top selling clubs in the upcoming years. The results of the research will be obtained through the analysis of historical data.


A club that receives significant revenues from players’ transfers to other clubs is not automatically converted into a selling club. A major characteristic of this kind of clubs is that they do not only sell players in high prices, but also, they try to spend even less amount of money in the market, by enforcing the club with young and potential players. The result of this procedure leads to the independence of the clubs from the continuous investment of their shareholders and attracts more and more evolving young players who want to play for it, for launching their careers on the global football stage.


For the purposes of the research, transfer data from season 2009-10 to 2017-18 of the top seven European Football Championships (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue A, Eredivisie, Liga Nos) will be collected and used, so as the top selling clubs of this decade and the top upcoming ones to be arisen. In these data, both the annual incomes and market values of 109 European clubs are taken into account.

Notwithstanding, Athletic Bilbao and Málaga, from Spain, will not be part of the research. Bilbao has a certain market from which buys players, so its sales are more frequent and for this reason there is no stability during the transfer seasons. As for Málaga, its sales have provided great incomes the last few years, but that happens because of its financial issues. So, the theory of selling club in this case is rejected.

Afterwards, the average incomes will be divided by the average market value, from 2010 until today and from 2015 until today, separately. The result of this mathematical equation will provide the ratio of each club. Ratio, in mathematics, is the relationship between two numbers indicating how many times the first number contains the second. For example, if a bowl of fruit contains eight oranges and six lemons, then the ratio of oranges to lemons is eight to six (8:6, which is equivalent to the ratio 4:3). Similarly, the ratio of lemons to oranges is 6:8 (or 3:4) and the ratio of oranges to the total amount of fruit is 8:14 (or 4:7). The numbers in a ratio may be quantities of any kind and they may be either a whole number or a fraction.


By submitting all the samples to the mathematical procedure, the findings are more than interesting. Among the Premier League clubs, Southampton, Swansea and Newcastle have the higher value in the equation incomes/market value. Concerning La Liga clubs, the findings are not surprising at all, as Villarreal, Sevilla and Valencia are in the first places, while Hoffenheim, Mainz and Stuttgart in Bundesliga and Monaco, Lille and Lorient in Ligue 1 have the best ratio respectively (incomes/market value). On the contrary, the fact that Genoa, Udinese and Palermo have the highest ratio in Serie A is a bit unexpected, when the absence of Ajax in Eredivisie (Twente, AZ Alkmaar, Heerenveen) and of Sporting Lisbon in Liga Nos (Benfica, Porto, Braga) is also a fact that the average football fan would not expect.


In accordance with the scatter chart below, the top European clubs in sales are illustrated. The results tend to be even more surprising than before. Three Italian and two Portuguese clubs are located to the top-5 of this distinctive category. More precisely, Benfica is the most successful selling club in Europe (0.50), while Palermo (0.43), Genoa (0.419), Porto (0.415) and Udinese (0.41) follow.

The most surprising of all is that there is no English, Spanish or German club in the top-10. That means that clubs such as Sevilla (0.27), Valencia (0.2497), Hoffenheim (0.2503) and Southampton (0.30) with great incomes from players’ sales do not sell at high enough prices, based on their strong market value and they need considerable improvement in their negotiation policy.

Although, the results might be called bizarre, the average ratio of all the samples per league demonstrates the truth of the analysis. The leagues’ ratio ranking is the following: Liga Nos (0.23387), Serie A (0.23382), Ligue 1 (0.21), Eredivisie (0.19), La Liga (0.166), Premier League (0.1538), Bundesliga (0.1536).


Once again, all the samples will be submitted to the mathematical equation incomes/market value. This time, the average incomes and market values of the clubs since 2015 will be calculated. Pursuant to the ratio, Southampton and Swansea still have strong presence in the football market accompanied by Liverpool, the new entry on behalf of Premier League. In La Liga, Sevilla and Villareal continue their successful selling projects, while Atlético Madrid takes the baton from Valencia. Palermo and Genoa are still thought as significant clubs in the football market, when Sampdoria “substitutes” Udinese as the years are passing by.

Furthermore, Freiburg has turned into an effective selling club recently, while Hoffenheim and Mainz are also keeping doing great job in sales, in Bundesliga. In Ligue 1, Monaco, Lille and Lorient do not encounter any competition in sales and same goes for Benfica, Porto and Braga in Liga Nos. Finally, Ajax makes a dynamic come back in the market, when Twente and Heerenveen can be considered traditional selling clubs in Eredivisie.


In this second scatter chart, the top European selling clubs are presented. In this case, there is a significant variety of clubs, especially in the top-5, which is consisted of clubs from five different Leagues. Benfica remains the “Queen” of European sales from football (0.71), a situation that hardly seem to be changed in the near future. The rest clubs of the top-5 are the following: Monaco (0.59), Palermo (0.56), Twente (0.479) and Southampton (0.474).

Once more, the top-10 does not contain any Spanish or German club. All the same, Hoffenheim (0.36), Freiburg (0.327), Mainz (0.31), Sevilla (0.35), Villarreal (0.34) and Atlético Madrid (0.26) have set a persistent strategy which includes them among the top selling clubs in Europe. The average ratio of all the samples per league comprises, again, irrefutable evidence. Liga Nos spreads the difference from the other leagues (0.30), Ligue 1 almost reaches the Serie A standards (0.251 – 0.264), Eredivisie is stable (0.238), Bundesliga has significant ascent (0.21), while La Liga and Premier League (0.186 – 0.185) show their preference for more spending than selling.


The outcomes of the aforementioned equation conduce to safe conclusions about the most successful selling clubs in Europe. In the first case, the results show which one of them are the top ones during the current decade. In the second case, the results demonstrate that there is important increase which reveals intensive transferring activity, since 2015. Although Benfica’s ratio looks incomparable, Monaco, Twente, Southampton and the rest of the clubs, contained in this category, are gaining ground in the European football market and they seem to be, reasonably, very attractive choices for a player who wants to make his personal breakthrough.


To summarize, the mathematical equation (average incomes/ average market value) helped the researcher to analyze and answer the questions he posed. The most successful selling clubs of the decade and the most promising ones were identified and the same happened with the Championships’ selling potential, as well.

BIBLIOGRAPHY (2018). European leagues and cup competitions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2018].

Google Books. (2018). The Penny Cyclopedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge: PRIMATICCIO. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2018].

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