Gary McAllister

Foxes Firsts: A Seven-Figure Departure From Filbert Street

In a new series, Assistant Club Historian Elsie Flynn recounts those occasions in the Club’s history when Leicester City experienced an event for the very first time, continuing with the Foxes' first-ever £1M sale.
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In May 1894, William Dorrell left Leicester Fosse in a move to Aston Villa. This transfer wouldn’t make too many headlines at the time, but the Club received a sum of around £250 – a record fee. Fast-forward to around 96 years later, and Gary McAllister left the Club to join Leeds United.

He, too, brought in a record fee for City. This time, it was a sum of money of around 4,000-times that of William Dorrell. 

The rise in transfer fees grew steadily to begin with. In 1911, the record transfer out of the Club sat at around £1,000. Come 1948, and with the sale of Arthur Smith, this record climbed to £5,000; a modest rise in price that only just surpassed that of standard inflation. 

Across English football, transfer fees started to grow exponentially in the 1960s - into five-figure sums and then quickly into the hundreds of thousands. And before the end of the 1970s the sport recorded a transfer that surpassed the million-pound mark for the very first time.

Nottingham Forest secured the services of forward Trevor Francis for a cool £1M in 1979 – despite Brian Clough’s best efforts in insisting the fee to be ‘only’ that of £999,999 – and the precedent was set: those who wanted to tempt a good player to join their ranks might have to cough up a staggering seven-figure sum. 

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Ali Mauchlen, Gordon Milne & Gary McAllister
Ali Mauchlen, Gordon Milne & Gary McAllister

Milne unveils new signings Mauchlen and McAllister.

McAllister was that first player for City to warrant the price tag. McAllister joined Gordon Milne’s side, in a combined deal with Ali Mauchlen, in 1985 from Motherwell. Together, they’d set the Club back £250,000, but the pair soon rose to prominence and secured themselves as fan favourites.

McAllister lit up a relegated and struggling City side in the late 1980s – twice selected in the PFA Second Division Team of the Season – and his talent attracted various suitors. The lure of playing in the First Division once more was overwhelming and enough to signal the end of McAllister’s stay in Leicester. 

But while City would have felt the loss of the Scottish talent, it wasn’t all in vain: for the very first time, the Club had a £1M sum land in their bank account. And although we wouldn’t blink an eye at such a fee in 2021, the sale was a monumental moment in Leicester City’s history. 

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