If there is any news which consistently makes the papers every year, it is club football. Europe’s top leagues like the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 etc. command the highest number of viewers from across the globe. Even after the season ends and the trophy is handed to the winner, and players go on vacations, the club remains active. It has to strengthen its squad for the next season by signing players they think will improve the team and also selling players for whom they’ve received good offers. This is not as simple as going to a supermarket and buying whatever you need. It is a more complex process with many other steps and people involved. All football fans are always excited when a new player joins the club, but not everyone knows how the player transfers are actually completed.
The Process of a Football transfer is explained below:
- Scouting : every manager analyses his team and decides upon the position he needs to strengthen by bringing in new players. Every club has a network of scouts who watch thousands of matches a year analyzing players, speaking to agents and families to form good relations, and reporting to their club about those with potential to be superstars. With the onset of technology, there are several databases and programs like Scout7 which store lots of statistics of players from across the globe, and they too help managers and club directors take decisions as to make which player their targets.
- Approaching – Once a player is identified by a club, they try to approach the player, more often than not through an intermediary agent for legal reasons, to assess whether the player is interested in joining their club or not. The club is not allowed to do it directly according to FIFA regulations. If the player intends to leave his current club, the interested party leaks stories to the media to create speculation. A line of communication with the current club is opened by the interested club.
- Bidding – An official bid is sent in writing, mostly by fax, to the player’s club. The bid may be for a permanent transfer or for a loan (where the player is allowed to play for another club while still officially remaining part of the parent club, and on termination of the loan he returns back to the parent club). A transfer fee based on various factors is negotiated by representatives from both clubs, and if an agreement is reached, the player is informed via his agent.
- Agreeing Personal Terms – Once a fee is agreed and the player is willing to join, contract negotiations between the player (through his agent) and the interested club begins. Terms of the contract like weekly wages, bonuses, image rights, any amount to be given to the previous club if he is sold further for a profit a few years later etc are decided. Importantly, the player meets with the buying clubs manager to know more about his role in the squad, and how he fits into the manager’s plans and philosophy.
Two important things to note here are:
- If a player is currently out of contact with any club, he can join any team for free on agreeing personal terms with that club.
- Players entering the last six months of their contract are free to talk to other clubs about joining them.
- Medical and Paperwork –The player undergoes a medical once transfer fees and personal terms are agreed. The medical will generally look into aspects like his history and any diseases he has had; a physical check up of all muscles and joints; checking of weight, height, body fat, lung capacity, pulse etc. Once the player passes the medical, all parties involved must sign the paperwork to make the transfer complete. Clubs have to register the transfer with their governing body before the deadline passes. This makes the transfer official and complete.
The club then officially announces that the player is signed by them to the media. He is also presented to the fans.
The Transfer Windows
The transfer window opens on July 1st of every year and closes on the 31st of August. There is also a winter transfer window during the month of January. At this time, clubs can look to address problems they faced through the first few months of the campaign. Currently, the transfer window is open, and some clubs have already made high profile additions to their squad.
TV rights and sponsorships, and prize money amount to hundreds of millions of Euros. Hence, the big sharks like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, PSG, Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs etc. are not afraid to invest astronomical amounts in excess of 50-60 million in just one single player, in the hope that they would help their team to domestic and European glory. Most of them have already bought a few big names for an amount which would give anyone goosebumps. The latest one which was made official recently was the signing of Romelu Lukaku by ManU from Everton for a staggering £75 million plus add-ons. Crazy right!
Factors affecting the Transfer Fee
Well mostly, the transfer fee for a player depends on a variety of factors like:
- The player’s ability – the more talented and gifted the player, the higher the fee.
- Player’s age – young player’s approaching their prime are going to cost more than players, say in their mid 30’s.
- Player’s importance – a player who is a clubs leading scorer, or has the most assists is going to cost more.
- The Player’s contract and happiness – greater time left on his contract means the interested party will have to bid high. Sometimes, the player is unhappy at his current club and wants to move away. The bargaining power of his club reduces and a lesser fee would see him make the transfer.
- The Player’s position – Of the top 10 record fees ever, 9 are attackers. But that situation is changing now where clubs are ready to pay 50 million and above for defenders. Example: PSG and Man City who bought David Luiz and John Stones respectively, some time back.
- Demand and Supply – applying simple economic rules, the more the demand for a player by other clubs, the more the amount the current club can ask for.
Oh, and by the way, Telegraph Sport, and many other major newspapers have reported that French Club Monaco have rejected a bid of more than €120 million for their 18 year old prodigy Kylian Mbappe, and yes you read that right, 18 years old (younger to the college students who are writing this blog)!
Earlier, we talked about agents and what an important role they play in making a transfer happen. They obviously get a commission on every transfer they cause to happen. Agents like Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes are considered as “super-agents”, such has been their influence. Agents mostly take a cut of the salary of their players for looking after their off-field matters. Considering that wages go above hundreds of euros/dollars/pounds per week, the agents of the players take home a handsome amount. They also get fees from the buying club to help facilitate the deal.
Data Source – Sportskeeda
With millions being given to coaches for investing in the team, money has changed football in 21st Century. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovic drastically improved Chelsea since he bought the club, with his never ending funds. Saudi Arabian oil moguls are also not afraid to gamble with an expensive player. Of late, Chinese investing has also increased with the Chinese Super League able to attract top European performers by offering excessive fees as well as attractive wages. Chinese owners taking over and spending millions on the two Milan clubs is also a statement of their intent.
Football is an extremely passionate and attractive sport. We may expect transfer amounts increasing in the future as clubs look to build teams capable of beating anyone. It won’t be long when the £100 million mark for transfer fee for a single player is crossed. Players would soon earn close to a million bucks a week. Not a bad time to start a career in the football business, as an agent or players or even coaches!