Many of us have only seen a transfer from the perspective of our favourite armchair. Keen FIFA and Football Manager players will know what I mean; transfer season comes around and it’s a pain-staking hour or two trying to ship any deadwood that exists in your squad, while trying to hold on to your best players and add new members where needs be.
The negotiation process can be long and arduous, but once the new season gets underway, nine times out of ten you are happy with your new look squad.
What I have noticed in recent years was that Agent fees have become a feature and previously I was sceptical about these randomly generated, suit-wearing, 3D embodiments of greed.
“How dare he demand £7.5million as an Agent fee!” I would exclaim, as I dipped my hand into the bag to grasp another handful of Doritos Chilli Heatwave (sponsorship welcome).
They would usually demand at least a fifth of the transfer fee, sometimes more if I thought I’d found a bargain, and I had no idea why. But the more I started working with these Agents, I saw them demanding less and their clients being more open to moving to my club (this was my first taste of relationship building).
But what happens in a transfer?
Firstly, a club will identify potential targets using a scouting network. The scouting department works in tandem with the team’s Manager and Director of Football (whoever has the most sway in transfers) and sees which areas of the team need improving and if there are players available which fits the club’s philosophy.
Usually, this will mean a Scout travelling to watch the player in question, but this process can be sped up by using statistical analysis software like Wyscout where targets can be scouted and assessed without having to travel any further than your office door.
Once the player has been identified and the interest is concrete, the buying club will then make an enquiry for the player – this is where the Intermediary and Manager of the target will be contacted to get more personal information about the player – what are they like in the dressing room? What’s their personality like? These are all used to assess how the player would react to different situations: a change in club atmosphere, a crank up in pressure, what their temperament is like which can all be deciding factors as to whether a bid will be made.
Finances are then considered – how much is the player earning? What are their expectations? Potential bonuses and how much an expected fee would be. The bid will then be submitted (think your Football Manager/FIFA Career Mode inbox). Usually this bid will be rejected because it’s significantly lower than the selling club’s valuation, unless there is a minimum fee release clause. But, naturally, both parties will look to get the best amount possible when either selling or buying.
“Whatever you want, whatever you like”
When a fee has been agreed, the selling club can then formally meet with their target and negotiate personal terms. Usually this is handled by the Intermediary, that means less stress on the player so they can get on with doing what they do best. The Intermediary will keep the player informed of the process, but the negotiating itself will be handled by the Intermediary who will agree all contractual factors.
The Intermediary will negotiate contract details, keeping what is best for their player in mind. This isn’t just for fees but also promises that a club will make to a player – for example, what their role will be in the team, how they will fit in the dressing room and what the club will promise them for the future in terms of their ambitions. The player will also meet with their prospective future Manager to gauge whether they want to move to the club or not: many times, these meetings have been crucial in helping the player to decide a move or not. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson were brilliant at face-to-face meetings with players and showing a desire to meet with players and proving their interest.
Many considerations are taken into account including relocation, travel, new languages for those who move abroad, lifestyle, and even weather, alongside financial perks of a contract.
The official stuff
A work permit is required to play for a team, because this still technically constitutes as work (believe it or not) – below are some guidelines on work permits:
A player will also need to undergo a medical to determine key aspects of a player’s health – cardiovascular health checks, blood and urine tests, musculoskeletal stability assessments and checking for isokinetic issues. Not all medicals will be the same, some are tailored to test specific places on a player’s body where an injury history may reside.
A failed medical won’t always mean a failed transfer bid, but it can often be the reason they are scuppered:
The Colombian striker’s ACL injury unfortunately did him no favours; it came at a time when he was at the peak of his powers and one of the hottest properties in European football. Falcao went on loan to Man United and Chelsea in the Premier League – both spells were unsuccessful, but upon return to parent club AS Monaco, Falcao failed fitness tests and had to spend another six months at Chelsea before returning to the French Principality club in June 2016.
A year before the Dutch hitman joined Man United, he failed a medical after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury he sustained playing for PSV. One year went by and in 2002, the striker got his move for a then-record fee of £19million. This was more of a scupper, than a fail.
The Senegalese striker has failed a couple of medicals in his career. When he played for Hoffenheim, he failed a move to Vfb Stuttgart, then he failed a medical ahead of a move to Stoke in 2011. Stoke had already agreed a £7million transfer for the striker, which left Tony Pulis a little bit fuming. Ba went on to forge a good career in the Premier League anyway with Newcastle, West Ham and Chelsea.
When George Boyd tried moving from Peterborough to Nottingham Forest in 2013, it fell through because of an “inconclusive eye test”; odd phrasing if you’ve ever heard it. Boyd was devastated, Peterborough Chairman Darragh McAnthony was fuming, Forest didn’t get their man and proceeded to stay in the Championship.
Remy went so far as to joining Liverpool on their pre-season tour of USA ahead of a move from QPR for £8.5million. To the surprise of everyone involved, especially QPR Manager Harry Redknapp, the deal fell through because Remy failed a medical due to a heart problem.
FIFA have a solution to track transfers called the Domestic Transfer Matching System (DTMS) and the International Transfer Matching System (ITMS). These ensure that transfers are recorded and legal. Before 2015, many transfers would go unrecorded or unrepresented due to the difficulty of becoming an Intermediary. But FIFA deregulated the industry to make it easier for prospective Intermediaries to register, which meant that transfers could be represented and tracked properly.
I’ll keep it brief:
Over 30 types of data are required from this system by the buying and selling club. If any details which are required from this system aren’t entered, the transfer will automatically be blocked. Clubs are very careful when entering these details to make sure the transfer is arranged on time!
Signed, sealed, delivered
Once all relevant paperwork is submitted to the football associations and leagues concerned (those which the buying and selling club are based in) the transfer can go ahead.
The contact, agreement and work permit and international certificates (if needed) are submitted – now all that’s left is a contract signing, a press conference, an official unveiling, and some kick ups in front of 50,000 cheering fans (if you’re Eden Hazard at least!).
Are you interested in handling things from the perspective of an Intermediary? Always fancied yourself to unearth the next talent? e-Careers can equip you with all the tools you need to bring your dreams to fruition with our Football Intermediary Professional Programme.