Football Global Transfer Report 2019

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The FIFA Football Law Annual Review 2019 was originally planned to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 16 March 2020, but due to the COVID 19, the event took place online on the 22 and 23 June 2020.

The first presentation of the second day was about the Football Global Transfer Report, which was presented by Jacques Blondin, the FIFA Head of the Transfer Matching System (TMS), the electronical system designed by FIFA to monitor international transfer, and the said presentation has revealed many interesting information about the football market of 2019, deserving its own article.

There is no denial football has become a strong economic activity around the globe. The number of transfers and the total value spent on men’s football confirm that this global sport is developing and growing annually. In 2011, first year of TMS report, the system registered 11.882 transfers for a total spending of U$D 2.85 billion, while 2019 registered 18.042 transfer for a total spending of U$D 7.35 billion.

It is interesting to notice that January was the second month in which more transfers were registered (3.852 transfers), only behind July (4.494 transfers). This proves that countries that have the season calendar equal to the calendar year (January to December) are developing and growing year by year in the international market of transfers.

While numbers do not lie, international football transfers are definitely becoming more common, most  of the players registered in transfers were the so called “free-agents” (64.3%), (aka: the players who did not have a valid contract with a club), which means they moved and the former club did not receive any payments related to the transfer. What attracted the most attention about the type of transfers, though, was that the loan agreements represented 13.5% of them, while the permanent transfers were 11.6%. Clubs are clearly changing their approach on the market, trying to find ways to circumvent and/or respect the Financial Fair Play imposed by International Bodies and national legislations. These types of transfer will probably become even more common within the next years.

Proportionately, the “paid transfers” constituted only 14.9% of the total number of international transfers, while 85.1% was “free”. This means 15.357 transfers did not involve any payments from the signing clubs as a releasing fee, while the transfers that did involve fees, differently from what one might think, were mostly (93.44%) lower than U$D 10 million, and just on 176 of them (6.66%) the fee was higher than U$D 10 million.

The market outside of Europe is growing and the numbers prove it. There are no doubts about that. But, having said that, it is remarkable how the big five (English Premier League; French Ligue 1; Italian Serie A; Spanish La Liga; and German Bundesliga) seems to be getting even more ahead than the rest of the world, since they were responsible for 76% of the total money spent on international transfers and for 48 out of the 50 most expensive transfers registered in 2019.

From all the registered transfers, 28.3% of them involved intermediaries (7.3% from the engaging clubs, 6.2% from the selling clubs and 14.8% from the players), and clubs paid a total amount of U$D 654.7 million to intermediaries, 65% of this amount paid by the engaging clubs 35% by the selling clubs. This number does not consider the total money paid by the players, because they are not obliged to declare it.

 

TMS has become mandatory for women’s football in 2018 and the numbers of it were presented as well. There was a 17.9% grown on the number of international transfers, from 696 in 2018 to 831 in 2019, and a 16.3% grown on the total amount spent, from U$D 560.798,00 in 2018 to U$D 652.032,00 in 2019. This number might be higher, because many players in women’s football are amateurs and TMS only considers the professionals. From these 831 transfers, 86.3% were of “free-agents”, while just 3.5% were permanent transfers.

TMS Is currently mandatory for women’s and men’s professional football, but FIFA has changed the article 1.5 of Annex 3 of the RSTP and included transfers of amateurs’ players as mandatory as well.

By Pedro Juncal

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