Ins and Outs of the Football Transfer Market

Football Transfer - Illustration / Concept - Arrows over a BallA football transfer deal is a result of a maze of moves and counter-moves between agents and club management in which the player is normally the pawn. Each camp pushes ahead to strike the optimum deal which best suits their own agenda and also live up to fan expectations.

Some of the bigger clubs begin the process of scouting for players a year ahead of time. In their ceaseless hunt for talent, clubs sometimes employ the personal approach route and at other times make use of computer programs such as Scout 7. This program helps people involved in a run-up to a deal, to watch any game being played around in the world and store statistical data on any professional player. Once a list of players they want to target is drawn the services of consultants are called upon to conduct a thorough investigation and personal background checks on them. Investigators report back to club managements through reports colored green, amber and red. In event a report is red, which means negative, the manager has the discretion to over-ride it in case he feels the talent is worth the risk.

In a modern-day deal, no club asks its counterpart directly to negotiate over the fate of a player. They go through agents. These intermediaries or go-betweens liaise with the target player. Once the club is sure that the player has expressed interest in joining them, they can approach his club if they feel the deal realistic chance to go through.

Rumors about a player wanting to leave a club also set a deal-making process into motion. Though it's in the best interest of the player not to leak a statement to the media, for he may end up staying with his current club after all. Club managements are usually not shy of using the media and feed them with a slurry of truths and half-truths, much to the bewilderment of fans.

An infuriated Luis Suarez went to the media railing against his club. But Liverpool owner John W. Henry was adamant and did not want his star player end up with Arsenal, a Premier League rival. Manchester United played down Wayne Rooney's complaints against the club and retained him. Yes, there are instances where clubs let their players go. Gareth Bale got his wish to join Real Madrid from his club, Tottenham Hotspurs. Who could turn down the deal of the century? Eventually, Suarez too left for Barcelona. The lure of truly big money is hard to resist for most club managements.

In a nutshell, this is how a deal works. Club A has a player. Club B wants him. Club A and B work out an agreeable price. Club B works out an agreeable wage-structure for the player. The transfer then takes place. The player's registration is transferred from Club A to Club B. He signs a contract which is to the satisfaction of all the parties involved in the deal.

In practice this entire process could involve months and staggering amounts of money. Behind-the-scenes haggling is common. The objective is to extract the best possible deal for owners, sponsors, agents, clubs and players.

There is another thing called a loan deal which is an alternative to a permanent transfer. The player actually remains with his club but spends some time playing with another club. Short-term loans are meant to cover up player gaps created by injuries in the borrower's team. Long-term deals are struck with a view to developing younger players or move on players unable to find a permanent new home. Farming out long-term player loans is a favorite practice among bigger clubs who find it difficult to stockpile younger talent. Chelsea, for example, has around 27 such players on loan.