How does a club finance a record Harry Kane deal?

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·4-min read
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Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks on as he is interviewed following the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 16, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors - Jack Thomas - WWFC/WWFC via Getty Images
Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur looks on as he is interviewed following the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 16, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors - Jack Thomas - WWFC/WWFC via Getty Images

The big English clubs all have "wiggle room" to table a record-breaking offer for Harry Kane while absorbing the financial chaos of Covid-19, according to accountants.

While Manchester City and Chelsea have endless owner backing to rely upon, rivals such as Manchester United might rely on low interest rates and staggered instalments to get a £150-million deal done.

A potential offer to dwarf even United's £89.3 million deal for Paul Pogba would most likely involve a long-term repayment plan that could leave the buying club still forking out in 2026 or beyond.

However, clubs are thought to be willing again to take such a long-term hit for such a prized asset as the financial outlook stabilises thanks to the domestic TV rollover deal and the return of crowds. Agents are convinced Daniel Levy's determination to keep hold of Kane at Tottenham will be tested, and Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in football finance at Liverpool University, says the price tag may not be a stumbling block. "There is wiggle room in my view for a club the size of United to go into the market," he added.

United, he said, are a prime example of how "we are seeing the increasing use of longer term funding deals" even prior to the pandemic.

"When Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 they owed £34 million in outstanding instalments on transfers," he explained. "Within five years that went up to £258 million, so Manchester United have been quite happy to use an instalment basis as a means of funding player acquisition. They've actually reduced that in the last two seasons – it's now down to £132 million. So, if Spurs are willing to spread the cash coming in, then it's feasible United could still come in with a big fee up front, perhaps half, and then [pay] the remainder in instalments."

The pandemic, he added, "shouldn't prevent a club, such as Manchester United, going out into the market". Deloitte estimates that over the course of 2019/20 and 2020/21, the top 20 earning clubs will have missed out on revenue totalling almost £2 billion as a result of the pandemic.

However, while United saw the biggest decline in revenue last season, with a fall of more than £100 million, their long-term outlook is more stable than the likes of debt-ridden Real Madrid and Barcelona.

James Begley, chief executive of talent marketplace Pickstar, told Telegraph Sport the pressures of the pandemic had made clubs "take stock". “Any fee of that size is likely to be split across three or four annual instalments, and it would unlikely be for that full amount," he added.

"There may well be a string of performance bonuses tied in which brings the final sum closer to the £150 million mark, such as titles won, European success, goals, appearances, as well as a percentage of revenue tied into any future sell-on clause. It would be the biggest deal in English football, which given the sport's post-pandemic financial landscape makes this even more extraordinary. But Kane is a proven goalscorer and a move to one of the biggest European clubs could well supercharge his own marketability."

Any deal to buy Kane would almost certainly be a long contract for the player, according to Maguire, a chartered accountant. "From a cash flow point of view, the costs can be spread, and from the accounting point of view, the costs are always spread over the life of the contract," he added. "For a £150-million deal for Harry Kane, we may be talking 25 to £30 million pounds a year as far amortisation is approached in the accounts. As such, it [the pandemic] shouldn't prevent a club, such as Manchester United, going out into the market."

Despite money extracted by the Glazer ownership, United, he explained, "do have a very good business model". "Whilst they've had losses over the course of the last 15 months they should return to profitability next season, because they're guaranteed a place in the Champions League," he added.

"And with fans back at Old Trafford, that's worth £100 million a season to them in ticket sales." United also have an overdraft facility which is now being paid at a rate of £25 million compared to more than £100 million in the early years of the Glazer ownership.