BEHIND CLOSED DOORS – Don McMahon
I am less interested in opinions and rumours in the transfer window than I am in reality and hard facts, so I decided to speak with a close friend who used to be a NASL and European scout for a professional soccer team where I live. He kindly agreed to answer my numerous questions about the transfer process worldwide (he also worked in Latin America and Europe). Here is what he told me:
1) Current regulations from FIFA and EUFA strictly prohibit a Club or ANY of its members/representatives from approaching a player under contract directly or indirectly, through a 3rd party, the media or through the player’s agent(s) or family.
2) Every professional Club uses a system of player evaluation which takes into account their skill-set, fitness, playing and injury record, current compensation, physical and age parameters, versatility and flexibility in playing more than one position, mental and psychological fitness and attitude, discipline record, playing style (European versus Latin American, etc.), family obligations and situation, nationality and preferred environment/climate. This is just a partial list – there are many more factors looked at.
3) Every professional Club also relies on its scouting network, and other similar networks to fill in the blanks about any targets. They have a computerized system that uses a number of commercial databases and research sites, as well as a template unique to each Club.
4) Many managers have specific requirements for a potential transfer and, surprisingly enough, cost is usually NOT the principle factor to be considered. He told me that Wenger is reputed to be very specifically demanding when it comes to on-the-ball skills, field vision, maturity and team spirit/teamwork.
5) He said that most managers, including Wenger, will watch a minimum of 200 hours of game and training videos before they are satisfied that they have a player of interest. He also said that Wenger and a few others will go and watch a player in person, when they can do so surreptitiously. Apparently these videos are freely exchanged between professional Clubs and Leagues. Fifa and Uefa provide access to International competition videos as well.
6) Apparently, according to him, the decision to proceed with an ¨enquiry¨ is always a team decision, rarely a manager’s alone. He said in AFC’s case , Gazidis, Tim Law, the Arsenal medical team, Bould and Wenger probably ruminate about each potential transfer for a few weeks before authorizing an approach to the Board for the funds needed and then the offer to the selling Club.
7) He said that most professional teams abhor any publicity or media attention to this process because it can skew the demands from the selling club, negatively influences the player and alerts other Clubs to the buyer’s interest. The selling club’s interest is often to keep a very low profile about the potential sale. Fan reactions can be a very detrimental thing to the stability of the club if the sale gets out too early. He also mentioned that many selling clubs like to have a potential transfer in before advertising the loss of their player.
8) He said that from his experience, the average time it took from initial interest and research to an actual transfer agreement varied between 6 to 12 weeks, if the buyer, agent, club and the player were in common accord. He said that should there be any disagreement between any of these parties, it could double the time or even scupper the deal entirely.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
9) The fastest transfer he has ever seen was between 2 NASL Clubs ….it took less than a week. The longest transfer was in Argentina, where it took almost a full season. Interestingly he also mentioned that there are certain players whose reputations proceed them and that makes it hard for their agents to find buyers either because their charges are too unpredictable or too unreliable, etc.
10) In his opinion, Arsenal are about in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to clubs and transfers. On one end you have the clubs that finance their existence by selling their players and on the other you have clubs that buy anything that breathes or moves (preferably both). He also said that this particular season has been specifically below average for the transfer activities so far but he expects it to heat up as we approach the TW deadline. In his opinion, with FFP and severally tightening financial situations at many clubs (especially in Spain), he would really be surprised to see this window produce a really blockbuster series of transfers.
His opinions hold weight but are still only one man’s (now retired) experiences. Wouldn’t it be great if we could ask someone at AFC how they actually go about their transfer activities?
- Home bias in the Premier League is rampant
- Sane clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal do sell when the opportunity is right.
- Why does it feel so good to be so negative?
- There is a difference between supporting Arsenal and holding Tottenham supporters in disdain.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- The proof that transfer rumours are generated by computers not people
- It’s so simple to stop referee errors like yesterday’s, so why do they continue?
- Burnley v Arsenal. Is it really that easy to influence a referee? Seemingly yes.
- Burnley v Arsenal: the team and this season’s appearance numbers
- Burnley v Arsenal: the injuries, and an encouraging run of results