Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughShould we abolish undisclosed fees? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Should we abolish undisclosed fees? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Should we abolish undisclosed fees?


The dust has settled, we have seen Jim White on deadline day and the drama of player arrivals comes and goes. Now an important issue arises. When a player comes into the gates of our football clubs we want to know everything about our latest acquisition, such as where they are from, and most notably how much they cost. It always seems to be a damp squib when we find out the player was signed for an undisclosed fee, a point Michael Owen amongst many footballers raised on the transfer deadline day. The undisclosed fee obviously does not stop the papers speculating about fees which always turn out to be hugely varied. Some fans ask whether it even matters. As long as the player has signed that crucial piece of paper and it’s all above board, that’s the most important thing. I accept clubs also want to avoid transparency on the details of the value of their players and breakdown of fees. However, surely, in light of the new financial fair play rules, this step is a necessity. The demise of Glasgow Rangers and Portsmouth are fresh in the minds of supporters, particularly those of the clubs involved. The time has come where football fans have a right to know how their club is spending their money.

 It is evident that the football fans are often an afterthought in the modern era of football marketing and strategy, but ultimately the fans keep the game alive. They are the ones who pay for tickets to go the games and the sky subscriptions, so it would be nice to know where this money is going rather than having financial dealings swept under the carpet. The finer details of the contracts have often come back to haunt clubs. Some realise they suddenly have to pay a percentage of the transfer back to the previous selling club from the fee they receive. In having all the details public and scrutinised, it may ensure that the money men dealing with finances are given more than a gentle nudge to keep finances in order. This would be done by keen fans that have the safeguarding of the club’s future at the forefront of their minds. It can turn out that a £9 million fee is not really £9 million and only say £2.5 million is actually paid there and then, with the rest of the fee being lost in terms and conditions. It seems in the real world we can have exact values for goods at our fingertips, and I am convinced it would not be a bad thing for football. The market value of a player, if he is to be once again sold, is not judged by his previous price tag more often than not. This was proven with Wolves this summer. They sold their players for significant profits, and had Sunderland known that Wolves had paid £6.8 million, instead of say £7 million to Burnley, for Steven Fletcher originally, this would have been irrelevant to the negotiation. The selling club, Wolverhampton, have the prerogative to charge what they deem fair and if the buying club choose to not pay the price demanded, then so be it.

Another reason we should make all undisclosed fees public is to stop the rise of greedy football agents. I concede in a transfer that agents are due their fair share for representing their client. However, sometimes the fees they charge are grossly unfair and unreasonable, stopping moves that should occur for perfectly legitimate footballing reasons. A prime example of this was the transfer of Yakubu from Portsmouth to Middlesbrough in the 2004-2005 season. The “super-agent” Pini Zahavi reportedly received half of the £7.5 million fee. Now I know Mr Zahavi may be a good agent but he isn’t 3.75million good is he?  It would be ideal to stop this sort of occurrence happening. Let’s just say the scrapping of the undisclosed fee rule does not stop Mr Zahavi receiving his money, it may increase our chances of knowing the role of the agent in transfers, thus avoiding bringing the game into disrepute.

Ultimately, it remains clear that the subject of undisclosed fees is a grey area. Whilst I am nosy and want to know the fees my club pays for a footballer, the important issue here lies in the need for clarity. In the same way we have cries for a revamp, in terms of introducing goal line technology, enforcing the removal of undisclosed fees as a rule would certaintly help modernise the game and also help to remove any money mishandling in transfers.

Grant Miles

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