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The Business of Transfers: Part II

June 16, 2024

The Business of Transfers: Part II - SBI Barcelona

Football transfers are an integral part of the global football business. In this, the most important stakeholder can be the agents, who facilitate the transfers on behalf of clubs, either engaging or releasing, or on behalf of players. The whole process is designed to make a transfer legitimate and smooth

In the previous part of the series, we discussed about the business of transfer in European football from the value perspective. In this post we will explore the business of transfer from the agent POV

Club Agents

According to the FIFA Annual Report on Football Agents for 2023, in men’s football, club agents were involved in a total of 2,051 international transfers which is a new record and represents an increase of 13.0% compared to 2022. In case of women’s football, club agents were present in a record number of 125 transfers which is a 20% increase over 2022 figures

In terms of geographical allocation, almost 86% of club agents were employed by UEFA / European football and remaining 14% spread across all other continents

The Business of Transfers: Part II - SBI Barcelona

In value terms, a staggering $888.1mn were spent on club agent service fees for men’s football in 2023, which was 42.5% more than 2022. For women’s football the sum was a more modest $1.4mn, a 61% increase over the sum spent in 2022

The Business of Transfers: Part II - SBI Barcelona

In both the cases, the far greater number of agents were employed by the engaging club than the releasing club

  • In men’s football, 75% of the agents were employed by engaging clubs
  • In women’s football, it is 96%

Player Agents

2023 saw a continued rise of player agents in the transfer ecosystem. According to the FIFA Agents Report 2023, over the last four years, the number of transfers in men’s football facilitated by player agents have increased by a whopping 34% and the same in women’s football by 50%

The Business of Transfers: Part II - SBI Barcelona

In 2023, men’s football saw 3,353 transfers with an agent acting on behalf of player, which is 15.4% of all transfers and similarly, it was 375 transfers for women’s football representing 20.1% of all international transfers    

Another interesting point to note about player agents is they tend to appear more frequently in transfers with higher player salaries, in particular for younger players. In 2023, the FIFA Agents Report statistically points out the dominating presence, >50% of transfers, of player agents in cases where the player’s total fixed remuneration starts from $1mn

Agents in The English FA System

According to the 3-year data regarding fees paid to football agents as released by English FA, a whopping amount of £1bn was paid by Premier league clubs to agents. Some other interesting points:

  • Manchester City paid the highest 3-year fees at £147mn followed by Chelsea FC at £146.5mn
  • The gap between 2nd highest, that is Chelsea FC, and third, Manchester United is more than the 3-year amount paid by 80% of the clubs!
  • In 2023/24, the total amount paid by Premier League clubs was £400mn, 29% increase over 2022/23 figure
The Business of Transfers: Part II - SBI Barcelona

For the other English football levels, the fees somewhat disclose the stark revenue / spends gap with Premier League

  • EFL Championship spent £142mn on agent’s fees in three years, only 14% of what Premier League paid to agents
  • In case of League One, it is 1.5% of Premier League 3-year fees
  • Within themselves, the fees EFL Championship paid has increased by 38% in 2023/24 over 21/22

Conclusion

As global football continues to evolve with the growing changes, the role of football agents remains crucial in facilitating player transfers. It will be interesting to see how the role of agents takes further shape in 2024 as further changes due to the FFAR and widespread legal battles against certain elements of the regulations will be more established

At SBI, we have specialised programs on the Agent preparation course, you can have a look at the details if you are interested here

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