Inside the transfer window - exposing the myths and lies promoted ahead of deadline day
The curtain comes down on the most lucrative transfer window of all-time at 11pm on Wednesday night - after a summer that has seen a series of myths and downright lies spread by a variety of unqualified sources.
More than half of Premier League clubs have shattered their transfer record to complete deals that would have been impossible to imagine for most of them not so long ago, ensuring that this is the story of a transfer window that has changed the face of the game forever.
Initially greeted with suspicion when it was introduced back in in 2002 (above), transfer deadline day has become one of the more talked about events of the season, with this year’s rush for last-minute deals likely to be more exciting that is has been in many a year.
The injection of EIGHT BILLION pounds from the Premier League’s remarkable new broadcasting contact has led to an inevitable transfer splurge that has included Paul Pogba’s world-record £89m move to Manchester United and John Stones £50m switch from Everton to Manchester City.
It means that England’s elite clubs are set to comfortably break the £1billion pound barrier in this window, so here is your Sunday World inside guide to a transfer circus that has long since spiralled out of control at the top end of the game.
Loyalty tends to be sold to the highest bidder in the modern game, with a contract irrelevant if a player and his agent get wind of a deal that can make both of them a fast buck.
Contrary to popular belief, the number of players earning in excess of £100,000-per-week in the Premier League is still small, with the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea the trio that offer wages their rivals simply cannot compete with.
“The money is there is the game now, so the players are entitled to have some of it,” Republic of Ireland and Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter told Independent.ie.
“I know it is hard for fans to get their heads around the kind of money in the Premier League now, but we want the best players here and for that to happen, you need to pay the big money.”
Arter makes a valid point and as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been reminded after his summer of reluctant spending, sitting on huge cash reserve in the bank is not a popular policy.
The players are the entertainers creating millions of pounds in revenue for the Premier League extravaganza and as a result, they should get a large slice of the income being generated.
There are several well-aired myths that need to be dispelled here and now ahead of a final few days of transfer dealing.
“The idea that agents and players gets 10 per-cent of deals can be banished,” Sunday World columnist Kevin Moran told us.
“That may have been the case in years gone by, but the money in the game now means every deal is different. That 10 per-cent figure can be higher or lower for all parties.”
Then there is the oft-spun yarn that clubs can recoup most of the money they spend on a mega-transfer deal by selling shirts emblazoned with their new signing on the back.
One embarrassingly misguided story last month claimed Man Utd had made £76m selling Zlatan Ibrahimovic shirts after the Swede’s high-profile move to Old Trafford.
The fact that Adidas collect around 90 per-cent of profit on Man Utd shirt sales as part of their record £750m deal with the club means that United would have had to sell hundreds of millions of shirts around the world for that claim to have any merit.
Of course, that has not happened, but this is not the first time that facts have got in the way of a good story during the transfer window.
“The agents have been terrible in the background. They have been getting involved with players that are not even their own, and trying to take players off other agents. It’s all been a bit messy.”
Journalist = parrots— Mino Raiola (@MinoRaiola) 29 July 2016
No deal done between Clubs
Its a game between Italy press and UK press who announce it first and who is worse.
The tactics deployed by agents this summer have reached new levels of nastiness, yet the rewards now on offer confirm that this is a fight that is well worth getting involved with.
Premier League clubs spent an astonishing £176.4m on agents fees between October 2014 and February of this year, with all of that money moving directly out of the game and into the pockets of businessmen who are getting rich quick on the back of their clients.
Agents are often portrayed as the villains in this transfer period and while their clients may beg to differ, these shady characters who take so much out of the sport have been suitably cast.
How much do journalists really know about transfers?
It is a question asked time and again over the course of the last few months, with Pogba’s transfer to Manchester United evidence of the game that is now played by many wannabe football reporters.
Twitter is reasonable to fuelling so many false rumours ahead of a big-money transfer, with those who claim to have the inside story on a deal spinning yarns in a big to attract new followers and give them a bigger presence on social media.
Of course, most of them are shown up to be frauds, with those predicting Pogba would seal his move to Man Utd 'in the next 48 hours' peddling that story every other day until they could eventually claim they were right.
So the journalist who said Pogba would be a United player within 48 hours over a week ago says Juve give Pogba go ahead for medical! #MUFC— Everything Man Utd (@everything_utd) August 7, 2016
Newspaper reporters tend to have more credibility, yet their leaks from agents tend to be stories that those doing the deal want to be leaked. Top clubs simply rebuff requests for information on transfers, ensuring most journalists have little or no insight into the deals they are claiming to be offering insight into.
The truth is the media are generally the last to know the full facts on a major transfer, with the occasional briefing from clubs tending to be focused on getting a message into the public domain that suits their agenda.
The moral of this story is that only a handful of well-connected journalists have any kind of insight on the big transfer deals, with those who have built their name on the Twitter following they have acquired by fair or fouls means are entirely unreliable sources of information.
The word coming out of Man Utd today suggests Paul Pogba deal is close....even though these tip-offs are not always the most reliable #MUFC— Kevin Palmer (@RealKevinPalmer) July 16, 2016
HOW THE CLUBS ACCOUNT FOR MEGA-DEALS
You may not be familiar with the term amortisation, but it refers to a company debt that is paid off year-on-year in staggered payments.
This is the way most football clubs set up a transfer, with an initial payment followed by instalments that will be complimented by ‘add-ons’ that will only kick in if certain targets are met, such as total appearances for a player or major trophy wins.
It means that Manchester City’s lavish £50m deal for John Stones will be broken down on the club’s annual accounts, with the full package of fees and wages spread over the six-year period of his contract.
That allows City to justifiably claim Stones is costing them far less than the initial fee that was promoted following his move, making him a long-term investment that they hope will eventually represent value-for-money.
WHAT ARE IMAGE RIGHTS?
Image rights have become one of the key negotiations in any high profile transfer, with Pogba’s move to Man Utd confirming that sporting ability on the field is becoming secondary in importance to your marketability off it.
These commercial rights can include the club’s freedom to use a player’s autograph on their commercial products, as well as their right to produce merchandise featuring his photograph and name.
In addition, if a club pays a sizeable sum in images rights to a new employee, both they and the player can save huge amounts of money in taxes, as images rights are calculated at a different rate to earnings.
An estimated 20 per-cent slice of his own image rights will boost Pogba’s weekly wage, with United buying the other 80 per-cent of his personal marketing brand when they signed him from Juventus.
Now Old Trafford commercial gurus are hoping to recoup millions on their investment using Pogba’s status, tapping into his 13 million social media followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Old Trafford financial chiefs believe they have signed a modern day icon as well as a sportsman and that allows them to justify their £89m investment.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has suggested that the first £150m and £200m footballer will be unveiled in the near future and there is every reason to believe his prediction.
Premier League clubs have spent £945m so far in this transfer window. Will pass £1bn by 11pm deadline tomorrow night. #SSNHQ— Bryan Swanson (@skysports_bryan) August 30, 2016
So long as Sky Sports and BT Sport continue to pump money into the Premier League and their profits justify that investment, players, agents and clubs will continue to be caught up in a financial whirlwind that does not undermine the financial security of any party involved.
Premier League soccer clubs in 2016 are a business first and a sport second.
We don’t have to like this reality, but we better get used to it.
The words of Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew would be echoed by many of the game’s top manager, with the windfall collected by Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola seeing a huge sum of cash taken directly out of the game to line the pocket of a man who joined the hype machine around the biggest transfer of all-time for his own benefit.