Joint-ownership of football players; the future or a financial cloak?

Long gone are the days of simply buying and selling players; due to the extortionate amounts of money that football players are worth modern day contracts are intricate, with many different beneficiaries in every deal.

However the latest craze to find its way into European football is joint or part ownership of players. Outlawed in France and England, teams on the continent are starting to share footballers’ rights as a way to profit financially and reduce the risk of buying the latest superstar.

The idea of joint ownership originates from South America, with the majority of Brazilian and Argentine players’ rights split between at least two different sources.

This has spread to Italy, with two or more clubs sharing a specific player’s ownership. It may well make sense for the involved parties, but joint ownership is blurring the boundaries, especially given FIFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, which are set to be enforced in 2013/2014.

Part Ownership between club and external company

Many South American players in particular are owned by their club, who in turn sell a share of the player’s rights to an investor. The investor takes a leap in faith in the player’s ability, whilst the club get a lump sum of revenue upon the sale of the rights.

So, if for argument’s sake Santos sold 25% of Neymar’s rights to Company X for $5 million today, and in the summer the striker moved to Real Madrid for $30 million, Company X would be owed $7.5 million of the transfer fee. However, if Neymar opted to stay with the Brazilian club for the remainder of his career, Company X would not be in line for any remuneration.

The advantage for the owning club is there for all to see, as there is immediate investment and the sharing of the risk of a player’s future.

One of the most notable transfers of this nature is Carlos Tevez’s move to West Ham from Corinthians, and subsequent transfer to Manchester United a year later. The temperamental forward is owned partly by Media Sports Investments (MSI), and former company owner Kia Joorabchian is now an ‘adviser’ to Tevez.

All of Tevez’s three transfers to and around England have involved complications due to MSI wrangling with the respective clubs, and West Ham were embroiled in a court battle with the investment fund.

The major downside of this type of arrangement is that non-football involved bodies and people are having a say in the game, and impacting young players’ futures. The player himself becomes secondary to the commercial gains of the owning organisations, with the athlete being traded for profit rather than any emotive reasons tied up within the game.

Part Ownership between club and club

As mentioned previously, this practice is banned in England and France, but is employed in the rest of Europe. Italy in particular has adopted this technique as a key way of negotiating transfers, with a number of players’ fates being intertwined and their ownership diluted.

A key example of two club’s sharing a player’s ownership is between AC Milan and fellow Serie A side Genoa. The two teams have shared rights of over 15 players in the last number of years, with the case of Alexander Merkel in particular relevant.

The German midfielder moved to the San Siro giants but after failing to break into the first team Milan sold 50% of his player rights to Genoa and sent him to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. However after good performances in Liguria, the Scudetto holders recalled him back to Milan.

By adopting dual ownership, a club, in this case Milan, have a safety net to protect their interests regarding a player. When Merkel was deemed surplus to requirements half his rights were offloaded but Massimiliano Allegri’s men kept the other half in case the midfielder impressed elsewhere, and exacted the option to sign him back if, and when, this happened.

The Future

With the FFP regulations close to being adopted, a clear reading of joint ownership needs to be determined. Clubs hiding behind investors to minimize their assets and therefore benefit under the new compliance should not be tolerated by FIFA, and the financial side of joint ownership needs to be clarified.

Similarly, the increase in non-football based investors in players’ rights is only adding to the influx of corporate and commercial influence in the game, with the players and fans’ interests second priority to revenue.

Published – Soccerlens

Brazil’s strength in depth – the players that didn’t make the Copa America cut

The 2011 Copa America in Argentina kicks off in early July, with the hosts the favourites amongst most bookmakers. Despite this, eight time tournament winners and current holders Brazil, as always, have a star studded squad capable of beating anyone on their day. Coach Mano Menezes has named a mightily impressive squad, that includes the mercurial attacking talents of Neymar, Robinho and Alexandre Pato, and the Selecao fans must be confident of their sides chances in the competition. The nation’s true football calibre can be showcased not by the 28 players the former Corinthians boss has selected however, but by the names missing. The following is a potential Brazil international side that will be watching their countrymen compete from the comfort of their armchairs.

GK : Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham Hotspur (11 caps) – Brazil’s number one is Inter’s Julio Cesar, who has made the starting spot his own, and rightfully so as he is the best goalkeeper at Menezes’ deposal. Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes missed out after one blunder too many may have blotted the copybook beyond salvation. The former PSV stopper’s club future is unclear also, with mistakes in high profile matches, such as against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals still fresh in the memory. Undoubtedly has the potential to pull off a match winning save at a second’s notice, but Brazil won’t miss Gomes in Argentina.

LB : Marcelo, Real Madrid (6 caps)– The national coach chose to omit the 23-year-old from his 28 largely due to indiscipline, with the former Fluminense full-back reportedly feigning injury to avoid an international friendly against Scotland and stay in Spain to focus on pressing affairs at the Santiago Bernabeu. Despite his small number of caps, Marcelo has progressed this season with excellent performances for Jose Mourinho’s side both domestically and in Europe and is a player of quality despite his off the field problems.

CB : Alex, Chelsea (17 caps) – The former Santos defender has been replaced both at club and international level by the emerging talents of David Luiz, and has not made the final cut. A solid centre half with a venomous left foot, he will be missed more for the thunderbolt free-kicks than his defensive prowess, with Brazil most likely electing Thiago Silva and Lucio in the starting XI in his absence

CB : Juan, Roma (79 caps) – The 32 year old is maybe past his best but brings a wealth of experience to his current club employers Roma. He formed an effective club and country partnership with Lucio whilst the pair were at Bayer Leverkusen, but a potential move back to the Brasiliero will be the Rio born veteran’s only reason to return to South America this summer.

RB : Fabio and/or Rafael, Manchester United (0 caps) – English football fans will have recognised the progression of the 20 year old brothers this season, who competed with each other for a starting spot in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Both have flair going forward but need to work on their positioning at the back, and were understandably overlooked in favour of Dani Alves and Maicon. New Bayern Munich signing Rafinha is another right back who will not feature in the tournament.

MF: Anderson, Manchester United (8 caps) – Another Manchester United first-teamer not to make the cut, Anderson has become an increasingly important player at Old Trafford. The former Porto player has an energy and work-rate that would be beneficial to Menezes, but has been overlooked in favour of Premier League compatriots Lucas Leiva and Sandro. A lack of goalscoring has blighted the 23-year-old.

MF : Douglas Costa, Shakhtar Donetsk (0 caps) – The 20-year-old was a key figure in the Shakhtar Donetsk side that made it to the Champions League quarter finals, with two riveting displays to eliminate Roma stuck in the memory. The ex-Gremio man is being linked with a move to a bigger club, and unfortunately for him, despite his talents and a good season, the tournament has come too early for the future international.

MF : Hernanes, Lazio (3 caps) – Has had a very impressive first season in Europe with Lazio, becoming their go-to man in the centre of the park. The 26-year-old former Sao Paulo midfielder has a good range of passing, is excellent in possession, and proved his eye for goal by hitting the back of the net 11 times in 2010/11 for the Biancocelesti. A very good player, unlucky to miss out.

AM : Kaka, Real Madrid (82 caps) – The former Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year winner has struggled to emulate his scintillating Milan form in Spain, and has had an injury-prone and frustrating two years at the Bernabeu. Recovering from injury in time was one thing; the 29-year-old simply didn’t get enough game-time in 2010/11, finding himself in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow. There is no doubt the talismanic playmaker will don the yellow of his country again in the future, but he needs to get back to his best to oust the likes of Sao Paulo wonderkid Lucas and Santos’ Ganso.

FW : Hulk, Porto (3 caps) – The fact that Hulk is not in the 28 is a testament to the strength of Menezes’ squad, given the excellent season the 24-year-old has just had. Strong on the ball, wonderfully talented and a ruthless finisher, the former Tokyo Verdy frontman was one of the standout performers in Porto’s vast domestic and European success in 2010/11, scoring 31 goals in the process.

FW : Ronaldinho, Flamengo (88 caps) – Another Ballon d’Or past winner to miss out, at 31 the now Flamengo attacker still has gas left in the tank. An unmatchable talent on his day, the former Barcelona hero never settled at AC Milan but still has a lot to offer. 32 international goals to his name and a mesmeric career behind him, Ronny’s bucktooth smile will be missed in Argentina

Other unlucky players to have missed the cut are Internacional’s Leandro Damaio, who is a £15 million target for Arsenal and Spurs, and Villarreal’s Nilmar who continues to impress at El Madrigal.

An unwanted team capable of potentially winning the tournament shows the Selecao’s strength in depth and continual production of top class, world beating players. Mano Menezes’ side start their campaign on July 3rd against Venezuela, and will no doubt prove to be real contenders to retain their crown come the final on July 25th.

Published –

Santos reach Copa Libertadores final after, well, under-par Cerro Porteno goalkeeping

Brazilian side Santos will take on Uruguayan club Penarol in the final of the Copa Libertadores; the first leg is this Wednesday (15th June).

Selecao striker Neymar inspired a 4-3 aggregate win over Cerro Porteno in the semis, but surely he’s not claiming this goal?

The keeper’s name is Diego Barreto, and he has three international caps for Paraguay, baffling.

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