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Soccernomics: Was this the most expensive game ever played?

The Champions League gets underway again this evening… was the meeting of Real Madrid and Man City last time out a record-breaker?

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho.
Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho.
Image: Andres Kudacki/AP/Press Association Images

AFTER A SHORT break the Champions League returns tonight with Game Week 2.

The first round of  matches has set the scene for what should be a very exciting competition; none more so than Manchester City’s visit to the Bernabeu.

Most, if not all of the media attention in the aftermath of the game focused on the result. It was only upon reflection that we began to consider if this was the most expensive game of football ever staged!

Of the 22 players starting the game and 14 sitting on the bench only four players can be considered to be “free”. Real Madrid goalkeepers Iker Casillas and sub keeper Antonio Adan are both products of the Madrid youth system, while Real midfield Michael Essien and City sub keeper Costel Pantilimon are both on loan from their respective clubs.

The Real starting 11 had a combined cost of almost €234 million. Incredibly the Madrid bench of Ramos, Coentrao, Kaka, Ozil, Modric and Benzema (and Adan) cost nearly the same; a cool €212m. A total cost of €446m. An average cost of nearly €25m per player.

Manchester City’s starting 11 was just under €13m less expensive than the Real line-up, costing more than €221m to assemble. The City bench watched on at a cost of €152.75m; a total cost of €373.95m and average cost of more than €20m per player.

The game included three players bought previous for more than €50m (Ronaldo, Kaka and Tevez) with a further nine costing €30m or more (Pepe, Alsonso, Coentrao, Modric, Benzema, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko and Aguero). The total cost of both sets of players sums to a massive €820m.

To put into perspective, this is more than the Irish State will spend on the Foreign Affairs ministry in 2012, which was allocated a budget of just under €730m and is just shy of the €845m allocated to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation last year. The figures are somewhat understated if one considers the potential cost of the“free players”, especially Casillas, who could fetch anywhere in the region of €30m plus.

We don’t know if this was ‘the most expensive game of football ever’ but if not, surely there has never been a bench like that of Real Madrid’s. €212m worth of talent simply watching. The most expensive bunch of spectators ever.

- Robbie Butler & David Butler

Robbie, an Economics lecturer at University College Cork, has written extensively on football’s economics. Check out some of that here.

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Robbie Butler

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