Saturday 17 March 2018

Football investment firm scores with €45m deal

Footballer Joao Mario
Footballer Joao Mario

Simon Rowe

Irish-based sports management firm Quality Football Ireland is set for a €7.5m windfall following a high-profile deal to sell top Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario to Italian giants Inter Milan, it is understood.

Quality Football Ireland, which was established in 2011 to buy the economic rights of up-and-coming players, is reportedly due a share of the €45m deal - the most expensive sale in Portuguese football history - after terms were agreed by Mario's club Sporting Lisbon.

Sporting Lisbon is due to receive €37.5m and Quality Football Ireland (QFIL) will receive €7.5m as part of the deal agreed in late August.

QFIL acquired a portion - thought to be about 20pc - of the economic rights of Joao Mario in 2012.

The 23-year-old midfielder was a key figure in Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph in France.

Established in 2011, the firm has a registered office at an accountancy firm in Clanwilliam Square, Dublin.

In recently filed accounts, QFIL says: "The company operates in one principal activity, that of the acquisition of Economic Rights Participation Agreements with certain professional football clubs whereby the company acquires a portion of the economic rights of the clubs in relation to one or more professional football players under contract with the clubs."

Typically, QFIL buys a share in the rights to young players and this investment entitles them to a cut of the funds from any future transfer fees.

QFIL also has links to Gestifute International, an Irish-based company controlled by football super agent Jorge Mendes, who represents Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Valencia winger Nani.

A global ban on third-party ownership of players was introduced by Fifa in 2015.

However, it is entirely legal for the likes of agents and investors such as QFIL to buy shares in a club, with a view to cashing in with a cut of transfer fees netted by the club, or providing a loan to a club and being repaid plus interest from sell-on fees; and acting as an agent in order to receive a cut from sell-on fees as commission.

It is understood that this is how many QFIL deals were structured.

Ireland's three third-party ownership football funds, which have held stakes in the economic rights of players at Sporting Lisbon and Atletico Madrid, still hold more than €23m in investments.

The funds, including Quality Football Ireland, were established in 2011 to buy the economic rights of up-and-coming players.

Recently filed accounts for Quality Football Ireland show it had €5.95m in investments at the end of 2015, unchanged from the previous year.

Related companies Quality Football Ireland IV and Burnaby Investments Ireland had player assets of €13m and €4.15m respectively, both unchanged from 2014.

Sunday Indo Business

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