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Revealed: the trick Barca are pulling to pay the fee for Cesc

By Tony Attwood

Last year, as we all know, Barca effectively went bust and in June were unable to pay their players.  This year, equally famously, they have said they are saving money by stopping colour photocopying.

So how can they spend £30m or more on Cesc?

The answer is that Barca will more than likely pay only a small amount of the transfer money themselves with the rest coming from an investment fund that is wholly owned outside the club.  The investment fund will own Cesc’s “economic rights” while the club own Cesc’s “footballing rights” (ie his performance on the pitch).

There are a number of companies indulging in this type of operation – which is outlawed in the UK, but, I think, not in Spain.  The one we particularly know about is QSI which is said (and I can’t confirm this) to be owned in part by Peter Kenyon who used to be at Man U and Chelsea.  Perhaps Mr Kenyon is just an adviser, and not an owner – I wouldn’t like to be definitive on this one.

We don’t know about Mr Kenyon’s role because QSI is registered in one of my old haunts: the Channel Islands – Jersey to be precise.  Companies in the islands don’t have to reveal anything much, even though they are in British Territories.  Unlike most of the rest of the British Isles, the Channel Islands  are outside the EU, and therefore not subject to EU financial regulation, so they can do pretty much as and what they like.  And revealing the details of ownership is something they do without.

Now I want to make it quite clear that I am not saying for sure QSI will “own” Cesc, but it looks to me as if someone will, and I doubt very much that it is Barcelona, simply because their credit is not good enough either for Arsenal or their bankers.

Borrowing money to pay for deals is commonplace, and there are financial institutions set up for this, but football in general is now in such a bad state financially, that the rates of interest are astronomic and there are many teams who are simply being turned down.  Which is part of the reason why the transfer market has stalled this summer.

Of course this ownership by a third party (I stress perfectly legal in Spain and therefore no allegations are being made here) raises issues.   If Cesc were owned by Barcelona in full then there could be no doubt that he would always do his best.   But with third party ownership going on, who knows?  Let us say that ABC Inc own his “economic rights” and they also own the same rights of another player.  The other player might be having a bad time of it, and his value might be slipping.   ABC Inc might then order Barcelona not to play Cesc so that their other player gets a chance to shine.  Or they might want Cesc on the pitch and then ask him to miss any chances he gets, so the other player’s team does better.

This situation comes on top of all the other problems facing poor young Cesc when he goes to Spain, for not only is the ownership of his rights likely to be odd (at least by British eyes) so will his playing experience.  Or lack of it.

Because La Liga and the Segunda División players are planning to go on indefinite strike in a dispute over conditions of employment.

So, as if it is not enough to go to a club where the overwhelming majority of fans have actually voted for him not to play, Cesc is going to a club where the players are simply not going to play.

Luis Rubiales, the president of the footballers’ union said, “We are unanimous and firm in our decision to call a strike. The league will not start until a new agreement has been signed.”

And here’s the really interesting bit.  I mean the really, really, really interesting bit.

The essence of the dispute is a demand by the trade union for a larger emergency fund to help players not being paid by clubs who are in financial administration.  A bit of a link there with the opening comments, perhaps.

Mr Rubiales has said that the protective measures are common throughout Europe in other leagues, but not in Spain.  “We don’t want more money, we want the clubs to honour the contracts they sign with their players. We don’t want palliative measures.”  Commenting on the situation in other parts of Europe he said that elsewhere “if a club shows it can’t pay its players the club doesn’t compete.   We have asked that players who are owed more than three months salary can break their contracts.”

Which explains why Spain is so keen on third party agreements.  Cesc might decide to break his contract with Barcelona if he does not get paid, but if as I suspect, he does have a third party agreement, he won’t be able to break this.  They will just move him on to another club.

Still, maybe if Cesc is still injured it won’t matter, since he can double up, being on strike and injured at the same time.  And do some deals on his economic rights.

Time to stop this transfer madness

Jádson Rodrigues da Silva in talks with Arsenal

The building of a miracle – moving to a new stadium.

Arsenal transfers, an alternative perspective

42 comments to Revealed: the trick Barca are pulling to pay the fee for Cesc

  • Bill Gregory

    Tony,

    How does this effect the financial fair play rules coming in ??

  • Stuart

    I’m not sure it would be as simple as the players owners saying to their player we don’t want you to score a goal, the clubs in this situation would also have some kind of performance related pay structure in place to reward quality players although it sounds a bit like a temp recruitment agency for footballers.

  • Jago

    yeah how about the new rules? and if cesc is injured you’d of thought they’d of taken the pictures of him training off the website!

  • Rog B

    Very intersesting and revealing. Thank heaven we do’nt have that over here,is this the same thing as Mascherano and Tevez had at West Ham? Anyway interesting how this would come into play with regard to FFP,or does’nt it? Thats 3 questions it has left me before I even get started with. Great post Tony/untold

  • Bill, I think it is just another hole in the rules.

    The problem is that the countries of Europe have their own rules and regs. Arsenal benefit from them by being able to sign players like Cesc at the age of 16 for modest sum and then sell them back to Barca for £35m. Spain benefits by the laxity of its own “third party” rules. Ryo could play in the Netherlands last year because a work permit was no problem, but couldn’t play here. Many of our young players have to go and play in Spain for a few years to get their EU passport – in England you would not get the work permit in the first place and so never get your EU passport.

    There are complications everywhere, and it is slowly becoming clear (to me – but maybe I have just been slow) how little work Eufa has done to actually make the FFP rules work.

  • Mandy Dodd

    A very interesting piece, despite their financial situation, looks like Barca always find a way round it.
    On that subject, reports coming out of Spain suggest Barca are about to get their way, suggestions Cesc is heading over there and a signing is imminent.
    IF this is true, and at the risk of being extremely premature,I would like to thank Cesc for all he has done for the club and wish him all the best. Some say his heart was not in it last year, I dont buy that, he was desperate to play in the CC game to help land a trophy, despite being injured.

  • Samuel

    Hopefully for Cesc,s sake he,ll eventually get to play for his
    boyhood Catalan team ,that,s when the players strike is finally resolved ,in Spain and also get paid what Barcelona are proposing
    to pay him ,but where will he play in this Catalan dream team as
    Sky Sports Spanish LA-Liga consultant Balague wasn,t exactly sure himself when questioned on this ,poor Cesc ?

  • Gooner Gal

    Tony, thanks for this great article.

    I never thought that in my opinion, UEFA never really intended to enforce FFP. It only came about when it looked like the EPL would become too big and too wealthy. UEFA were scared that they were losing influence and authority, as after all money is power. Now it looks like with PSG and Malaga, money is being pumped into clubs everywhere they can relax alittle. Their time is now spent trying to work out how they can cream a bit off the top.

  • Bill Gregory

    Tony, thanks, I understand different countries have different rules however, the financial fair play rules introduced cover all EURO leagues, and if Barca are actually the club that is paying the transfer fee, do they not have to show part of this as a loan. ???. If they show that part of the fee is being paid by a third party, is this not against EURO regulations. ???

  • Bill, my point is that I am starting to think that Eufa simply have not thought this through. I think they have come up with the rules in the vague hope that they might work, and if not, they can blame the naughty clubs for finding their way around it.

    I did think there was a chance Uefa was serious, but then a year ago I found out that Uefa had not established a serious financial committee of auditors and accountants to oversee this. There’s a couple of guys who will have a watching brief, but that’s it.

    Against the sort of financial muscle that Man City can pull in. I feel quite embarrassed that I ever thought it would work.

  • Bill Gregory

    Typical bloody Platini, I think the quicker the so called Super League starts the better.

  • Doublegooner

    Tony dear boy,

    Does it matter what money will pay for Cesc. Wenger & Gazidas have fannied about all summer.

    Wenger is walking a tight rope now. The players being mentioned as possible recruitments, with the exception of Dann for half a season, none have PL experience.

    You messiah is losing followers by the sackload. His time could well be up by next may.

    http://www.timeanddate.com/counters/customcounter.html?msg=Til+Arsene+Leaves&day=13&month=05&year=2012&hour=12&min=0&sec=0&p0=0

  • Murad

    so how are the wages paid? club to player? 3rd Party to player? or club to third party to player (can also be of significant importance)?

    Also if this is allowed there could be a few more conflicts in interest arising eventually, for example a company owns rights to a player in opposing teams for example – I remember we once played a German club sponsored by Emirates and only one team could use that sponsor – we could see similar situations arising?

  • T2T

    Well, something is happening – Arsenal.com has just removed the page “Arsenal first team squad numbers announced”…

    I´ve been a firm supporter of Arsenal and the board for 15+ years. The decisions made to allow 3!? sure starters (Clichy Fabregas and Nasri) to leave during a summer with no time to get replacements in before the new season starts pushes my beliefs in them to the very limits. I guess as a starting XI, the quality is there to replace them, maybe tweaking the formation and tactics. BUT from having, IMO, the best midfield around, we no longer have the proven quality.

    Szczesny
    Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs
    Song, Ramsey, Wilshere
    Walcott, v Persie, Arshavin

    Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Djourou, Traore, Diaby, Frimpong, Lansbury, Eastmond, Miyaichi, Gervinho, Chamakh

  • bob

    Tony, others,
    FFP, it seems, was a hoped-for staple in the mid to long-range success of a self-sustaining model. Could you elaborate on the implications of no FFP for Arsenal?

  • critic

    It’s all good and all but the bottom line is impact on Arsenal is more than on barca or cesc. At least in the short term.

    This should be the end of arsene’s youth policy and may be, just may be arsene wenger himself. :’-(

    What’s the point of such policy when you can’t hold on to your best player and sell him for peanuts. This is utterly ridiculous and we don’t even want the money. In my opinion arsene has lost control over his players for the 1st time.

    This might be the end of arsenal as i know it as i think there will be a tactical shift in arsene’s approach from now on.

  • Notoverthehill

    Arsenal.com are still showing the First Team Numbers with 3 missing. Once has to drill down to the back numbers.

    My how rumours can fly??

    Tony a good article and in manufacturing we had Birmingham quality and Spanish practices.

    I note you kept clear of the Jersey in Arsenal Holdings!

  • Just a note to the turnips who send in abuse (in this case against me, but usually against Mr Wenger). If you don’t respond to the topic in hand, and/or your don’t give a proper, working, email address, you won’t be published.

  • lew1234

    Where did you come across this Tony? Where is the evidence that this is correct?

  • Simon Bailey

    In these modern times with 24 hr news coverage and iphone rioters, football supporters are ever closer to the daily goings on in their clubs. Some supporters see this as their right to have a say in how things are done.
    The thing is, despite all the close media coverage and daily twitter updates about every miniscule development, we are mere supporters. If Arsene sells Cesc and Samir and Gael, then they’re gone. it’s no use crying over spilt milk.
    Some clubs (eg. liverpool) would take the 50 mill and blow it, at Arsenal they have a different strategy. Arsene will only buy players that are good enough and available at the right price. He has already said today that our team is too big at the moment which means that he will only buy if the above criteria are met. Our line up for the Newcastle match looks like a great team.
    What we also have to remember is that we have Gervinho, Ryodinho (as feyenoord fans christened him last season) and Bartley as new players. Thats without spending any of the 50 mill nasri/fabregas cash. Things are lookking pretty rosy to me.
    I would like to join Mandy in applauding Cesc and Gael for their great service to the club, and if Samir leaves too for greener pastures, I will applaud him just the same.
    Can’t wait for the season to kick off.

  • Lew…

    Much became clear with the transfer of Roberto Jiménez from Benfica to Real Zaragoza for £7m – a club that are in administration. Benfica revealed that most of the money came from an investment company.

    El País (a Spanish paper) then ran the story that the investment company was QSI. The Guardian then said that QSI has Kenyon as an adviser.

    I have been puzzling all summer as to how Barca are funding anything, and gradually the truth dawned.

  • lew1234

    Interesting stuff Tony

  • eche

    “We have four defenders, there is no need for another” says Wenger, pls help me determine whether Wenger has gone mad or is he trying to take the fans for granted again. what will say after the transfer window closes. kick water bottles? help kick this man out of AFC.

  • Dec

    Fascinating stuff Tony. That’s why Untold is first stop for ‘relevant’ Arsenal news. Well done and Ta much.

  • bob

    Tony, others,
    Any knowable specific threads that continue to connect this guy Kenyon to MU and/or Chelsea? In either case, Kenyon seems to operate in rarest financial air atop the two main leagues. A savvy. connected consigliore or hedge fund manager (choose your term) is clearly useful in coordinating the overlapping interests of big strategic partners (top clubs), and thereby help maintain the status quo in top flight football. Perhaps (pure speculation) Kenyon and Dein the Lesser were school chums?

  • bob

    The usual Barca players, reports the Guardian, are now Tweeting like birds. Pujols. Pique. Alves. Surely Iniesta is soon to follow. The only thing left out of the story is what kind of birds. The only word that comes to mind: VULTURES! “Tippy-tapping” pays for los boyz in both senses of the word. Surely Mr. Kenton owes them all dinner. Ok, first bitter, then better. Now back to grace under pressure… Go Gunners!

  • nick tolhurst

    Tony,

    I dont know if you have mentioned this before but Barca are currently undergoing a number of some very strange transactions. Its worth looking into the intricate details of the Bojan deal to Roma – which looks like the club are basically being lent money from the italian club rather than a normal player sale. Very strange times. I do wonder where this will end up in a few years time….

  • bob

    nick tolhurst,
    Methinks that to keep big football’s Brand afloat, Barca and ManUre will “find a way” to stay afloat. Too big to fail means not as individual clubs; but for the sake of big football itself. It is in the interest of all the big players to ensure that they remain the face and mastheads of the zillion dollar enterprise. If they’re allowed to go down, there’s massive fiscal losses that go well beyond the two teams. Their success is an integral part of football’s profitability. In other words, too big to fail. (Note: This was not an endorsement of the status quo.)

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    This is actually quite scary stuff. You speak about your naïvety, Tony, in having expected Uefa to implement serious FFP rules, when it appears they haven’t got the mind to. But what to do when many top clubs are clearly in such a mess financially, that to do so would undermine the competitions that are the reason for Uefa’s very own existence?

    It reminds me of nothing so much as the whole mess in the finance sector, with banks such as Bank of America, Société Générale and various others supposedly all on the brink because of mortgage debt/solvency problems in the past few years that have been swept under the carpet by politicians and regulators, under the rubric of “too big to fail”. The result is an utterly corrupt global financial system, one in which no one has confidence any more.

    It makes one wonder, is football precisely the same? Thinking back to that redonkulous RvP dismissal against Barça – when we were still leading over two legs – just makes one wonder more.

    For how else can the TBTFs be kept going, unless huge amounts of prize money are swept upwards to them, each and every year? Another example of not “trickle-down”, but “flood-up” economics? So much for the level playing field.

    As for Cesc, I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years, so I hope it all works out for him over there. I don’t see him ending up as a new Tevez, or even a new Hleb, he’s too savvy and talented for that.

    But the bubble in European football will burst, like all bubbles eventually do. And Arsenal will still be standing.

  • bob

    Clerkenwell Gooner,
    What you say is too true to be good. Alas, and well done. The TBTF factor has to play itself out on the pitch and Basura’s bullshit calls vs. Barca and his subsequent elevation to chief of referees speaks a volume or two. This guy Tony brings up – P. Kenyon, ex-ManUre, ex-Chelsea and now driving the Cesc-to-Barca express seems a facilitator of the TBTF agenda in football, etc. For your thinking outside the box, kudos.

  • bob

    p.s. meant to say, Basura’s bullshit calls for Barca (vs. us)…

  • eche

    Inability of Barca to pay their players is not a news…..

    Rest of this comment cut. Sorry but on Untold the rule is you comment on the article, not on what you think the article should be about.

  • Andy Kelly

    I understand that Barca have got around the colour printing problem by releasing a new kit comprising two shades of grey.

  • bob

    Andy,
    Actually Barca’s gone to all white, home and away, with UEFA’s permission, to keep down costs. As for us, well, I fear that Silent Stan (if today’s Independent’s reports of him overruling Arsene on keeping Nasri at this past Monday’s board meeting are true) is on the verge of lending us his Colorado Rockies excess away jerseys as a money saving venture. Sorry for all the black humor, but losing Nasri without a like for like quality replacement would feel like a bridge too far, and perhaps Arsene – who I defend, albeit with eyes open – is actually taking so much stick for, in fact, being overruled by a sports club jobber (with way more interest in Yank pitchers than Arse pitches).

  • Gooner S

    Fascinating stuff. Thanks.

  • SchmidtXC

    I think you’re jumping to conclusions on this one, I doubt that Barca needed to involve an outside company in this at all. They’ve made a fairly large chunk of money selling players this summer…between Romeu, Bojan, and Jeffren alone they’ve made about 25 million Euros (and they lost quite a few youngsters who’ll net them fees decided by tribunal as well). With much of the money for Sanchez not being due to Udinense until next June, most of that cash is available up front for Cesc. Not the wisest way to use it by any means, but it should in fact be there.

  • bob

    SchmidtXC,
    Of course anything is possible, but do you think, in a bad economy, it is usual for a deal to be made (by anyone) to give Barca (not the most solid financially lets say) an almost 1-year deferment for that Sanchez money? How can Udinese feel so confident and be so flush with money as to afford a 1 year delay? Also, how much money is being deferred here would you say?

  • SchmidtXC

    Bob…
    It’s not really speculation, pretty much every media outlet that reported the Sanchez deal noted that payment was broken down into 5 equal installments over five years (the first of which is due in June 2012). It’s dumb business in all likelihood for Barca, as it’s simply pushing their debts until later, but it’s what they did. All of the sales were upfront payments, so they should have plenty of cash for the Cesc purchase.

  • SchmidtXC

    And Udi could probably afford to do that, as they had about 35 million pounds worth of sales outside of Sanchez this summer compared to only 12 million in buys. They also have some extra income coming from Europe, although drawing Arsenal means it will likely be Europa money.

  • bob

    SchmidtXC,
    Many thanks. I didn’t at all mean that the deal/deferment was your speculation – I was expressing my surprise that Udinese, or anyone really, could – in this economy – be stable enough financially and that willing to trust in Barca’s ability to actually repay that much over so long a period of time. To me it shows Udinese’s “understanding” that Barca is too big to (be allowed) to fail (TBTF) by Big Football. I also wonder whether Udinese and Barca have any prior history of doing this type of deal?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    The most obvious way Barcelona will fund the transfer is the enormous ‘sponsorship’ deal from Qatar.

    That won’t show up in any 2010 accounts, as the deal was struck within 7 days of Qatar winning the 2022 World Cup hosting rights. As I described it: ‘the biggest bung in the history of the World Cup’.( One wonders what selling the Olympic Village to Qataris at a £300m loss will be described as…the punishment for not selling them Arsenal, perhaps?)

    But it’s a megadeal.

    The club also reduced their debts by £50m in the last set of accounts.

    They presumably got a shedload of prize money from winning the Champions League last May. Probably £25m more than Arsenal got for losing at the Last Sixteen stage.

    They have a TV deal which is about £100m a year. £60m a year odd more than Arsenal.

    They have a stadium which is 90,000. So their match day income will not be less than Arsenal’s.

    They have a lot of money flowing through their coffers. And Sandro Rosell has determined to put the club’s finances on a stable footing.

    I’d be surprised if they can’t fund Fabregas.

    I’m sure Arsenal fans won’t like that fact. But I think they can do it.

    Whether Fabregas should actually go there is another matter entirely.

    But I’m afraid this site has over-egged the financial situations of other clubs too much in the past 3 years. Just as it has over-egged the fairness of Arsenal by ignoring signing 15 and 16 year olds for nothing from continental nurseries. Spurs are run frugally and in a financially sound manner. Paying players rather less than Arsenal pay its’ own players. This site has constantly said they were acting fraudulently. No evidence was ever provided to back that up…not a clever statement from a site which wishes to be taken seriously…..

    Yes, it says it is allowed to be biased.

    But the downside of bias is a lack of trustworthiness.

    I think Arsenal, as a business, is run as one of the best clubs in Europe. Apart from the useless commercial deals on shirt sponsorship and stadium sponsorship……

    It’s just that it’s run too much now as a business and not enough as a business geared to the fans’ aspirations.

    It’ll be mighty interesting to see the wage bill of Man Utd in the 2012 accounts. Fergie’s doing the youth approach again like he did in the 1990s. Then he did it to pay for the stadium upgrade. Now I suspect he’s doing it to manage the debt for his shareholders and owners.

    A tip to this site: if you want to be taken seriously as a voice of reason, don’t insult everyone right left and centre.

    Hold the manager to account when he overloads the squad with creative midfielders, doesn’t sort out the defence and doesn’t look at its own players’ actions on the pitch………

    Please…..

  • goonergerry

    Does anyone really know how the Fabregas deal is structured? It seems from the outside like its a deal that has been struck to suit one party only- Cesc Fabregas. If he was willing to go elsewhere do you think for one minute that we would have sold him to them for this amount?
    How many other clubs in world football are this honourable? This degree of integrity is not only not in Barcelona’s DNA its not in their comprehension. They only understand doing their opponents over.
    I have felt worse in my Arsenal time- notably when Brady left to go to Juventus. Like others I hope for the best but fear the worst because I don’t think the club are able to replace his talent without spending the kind of money they seem most reluctant to.