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Top-flight clubs refuse to shed light on murky world of big transfers

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There is no secret that the winner in Angel di Maria's move to Manchester United was his agent Jorge Mendes. Photo: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

There is no secret that the winner in Angel di Maria's move to Manchester United was his agent Jorge Mendes. Photo: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Man Utd via Getty Images

There is no secret that the winner in Angel di Maria's move to Manchester United was his agent Jorge Mendes. Photo: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Every Premier League club has refused to reveal to the public the full details of fees paid between clubs and to agents during transfer windows.

FIFA made the proposal, and its Transfer Matching System (TMS), established to create transparency in the transfer market, has made it compulsory for clubs to register every deal they conclude in the market.

But though clubs must inform FIFA about which players they have signed - and a deal is only concluded when the Transfer Matching System has logged it - it is not yet obligatory to provide a breakdown of money paid to the selling club and others who have a commercial interest in the player.

Instead, a waiver system has been created under which a club gives permission for the breakdown of money paid out for players to be published.

TMS has urged Premier League clubs to provide the+ breakdown, creating far greater transparency for supporters and enabling the clubs to have a better idea of what constitutes good value in the market.

But, while a substantial number of Football League clubs have been willing to do that, as yet no Premier League side has agreed.

Disclosure

TMS says the elite clubs' unwillingness to cede any competitive advantage to their rivals is the main impediment to a disclosure of transfer fees, which supporters would welcome, amid the habitual claim and counter-claim that buying and selling clubs engage in when a substantial deal is concluded.

Mark Goddard, general manager of TMS - a wholly owned subsidiary of FIFA - described how Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain seemed to accept the reasons for disclosing he fees but insisted the club would not accept it.

Goddard told the Soccerex convention in Manchester: "He saw that but said 'my president will not sign a data waiver'. The brain is not there yet."

Some clubs are forced to provide transfer market details because they are listed on the Stock Market.

For example Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward is likely to be quizzed by analysts on transfer business when the club publishes its financial results today.

Goddard puts the Premier League clubs' reluctance down to what he describes as "game theory" - a fear that, by revealing to competitors how a transfer fee breaks down, they will be conceding competitive advantage, allowing rivals to see how much they have invested to improve their squad and to benefit from values established through scouting systems.

Goddard said he held out no immediate hope of third-party owners - and their earnings from deals - being detailed in TMS logs.

"We can't force them," he said. "If they don't waive, we leave them with a question mark next to their name. We realise they want to compete against each other."

Sadly, that means there is no end yet to that recurring PR battle which ensues when a player is signed.

Manchester United said 10 days ago that Angel Di Maria had cost them £59.7m. Within 24 hours, as the Argentinian's signing was being officially announced, the Spaniards were briefing like fury that there was a total of €9m (£7.2m) in add-ons to supplement that.

The claim and counter-claim underlined how acquiring a football player is not an ordinary kind of buying and selling.

There is no secret about the identity of the winner in the Di Maria case.

Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes' substantial earnings were part of a lucrative summer in which he negotiated the sale of five huge names.

United's Radamel Falcao, Real Madrid's James Rodriguez, Manchester City's Eliaquim Mangala and Chelsea's Diego Costa were the others.

But the myriad of agents and third-party owners in the system prevent transparency over how much has really been paid for a player. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent