The plans of the ECA for football – part 3. Third Party Ownership, Agents etc

By Walter Broeckx

In the first article I wrote about the ECA I made it clear that the FFP rules are not an invention of Arsenal’s that we are forcing upon the oiler teams. Arsenal have supported the new rules but the idea was carried by the majority of clubs in Europe. The majority of clubs from all the member states of  UEFA.  In the second article I wrote about how the ECA is looking upon the first sanctions given against the clubs that think that FFP is not for them.  Now I will try to look in the future.

As FFP is not the end work of the ECA but just one step amongst many others that have to be taken to make football fair for all. And for all I don’t mean Arsenal. The ECA means for clubs from smaller countries. They are the major victims of the oilers and their money game leaving them with no chance at all to win anything apart from in their domestic leagues.

The last time a team from a not-so-big country was able to reach the CL final was in 2004. Porto then won it. And I will probably step on some Portuguese toes by putting them in that category of “not-so-big”. Was it a coincidence that this came together with the arrival of the oil man?

All in all it was mostly teams from the big countries that were in the finals. Big countries like Germany, Italy, Spain and England. But in the nineties we have seen Ajax not only in the final but even winning it. And a few French teams and again sorry for the toes but the French league wasn’t that big at the time.

So the ECA wants to go back to that. So that a team like Ajax or PSV or Anderlecht or Olympiakos would still make a chance of coming close to the final. Now teams from those countries are already happy if they can win any of their games in the group stages.

But another working point for ECA is the transfer system. Or better said, the managers that lurk around the players and clubs to suck the money out of them.

Now the ECA doesn’t want to take the player managers out of the system. They see a lot of good agents who try to work for their clients in a serious way and want to help them in their career. But there are also ‘cowboys’ hanging around who only look at what is best for their own wallet. So rules will be made stricter (or at least they will ask Uefa to make the rules stricter). Certainly when it comes to managers that try to profit from the young talents when they turn 15-16.

One of the possible rules would be that clubs could offer 5 years contracts to their young talents so that certainly in the smaller countries clubs can hold on to their young talents more.  At the moment the best talents in the smaller countries are taken away by the big clubs around 16 years or even younger and the clubs get hardly any compensation or benefit themselves in the first team from their basic work.

ECA also wants to take on the problem of the Third Party Ownership.  According to the numbers of the ECA. in a country like Portugal almost 80 % of the players are partly owned in a TPO system. And that is a bad thing for football in general.  Because players are seen as investments and within TPO might be forced to go somewhere they don’t want to go. Because when the investing party sees they can make a big profit by selling the player they get the money and make the profit. The player might be unhappy about the move but hey why care.

The TPO is making a lot of progress in some countries. As it lowers the costs for clubs a bit and they can buy players they otherwise couldn’t afford. But when the investors see another place where they can make more money they will take the money and run.  And in that way money will leave football. A regular transfer for a player not owned by a TPO means that £xx million goes from club A to club B. And Club B will probably use that money to buy another player or even invest it in their stadium.  But that money will still be in football*.

But a player who is owned 75% by a TPO company who is sold will only see that 25% of that money stay in football. As the investors might look for other investments in other branches.

Another problem with the TPO is the fact that the rules are completely different in some countries. For Portugal it is a way of living and in France it is forbidden.  So clubs in Portugal can buy some players on the cheap as their French rivals cannot come up with the full 100% of transfer fees that are asked by the first selling club.

The ECA don’t think that TPO will be forbidden completely but there will be a need for new rules. You can’t forbid it straight off as that would mean that lots of clubs in Spain and Portugal suddenly could be in big trouble. And that is not the goal that ECA has in mind. But as with FFP matters they want to change things in a slow but steady way.

Another thing that the ECA is working on is making the gap between CL football and Europa league football smaller.

Currently the CL clubs run away with the big chunk of the money and the EL clubs get the crumbs that fall off the table.  The ECA doesn’t necessarily wants to take money away from the CL. The main goal should be to bring more money to the EL without harming the money in the CL. A problem is that now when a team should fall out of the CL they might be in big trouble as their income will drop too much if they would enter the EL. And therefore maybe would be forced to sell their best and most expensive players to keep the books in line with the FFP rules.

This could be avoided by making sure that the EL teams will get more money from sponsor deals and prize money.

And finally the EC is looking at ways to improve the qualifying rounds. This would mean that they form regional clusters in the qualifying rounds where teams don’t have to travel to the other side of Europe. As in the qualifying rounds you have mostly the poorer teams it would mean lower costs for them if they can just travel over the boarder to play against a team that is more local. And could bring more interest to the fans of both teams.

A Belgian team playing against a team from Azerbaijan is not attractive for either set of supporters at all. But that same Belgian team playing against a team from Holland or Germany or France is something that will bring more supporters to the stadium and will raise the interest of the TV companies and thus maybe more money.

These are some of the major working points from the ECA. Some might be beneficial for your team or for my team (Arsenal) or they might hurt the way your team is working. But remember, football is more than Arsenal or your own oiler team. If you want to win something you need opponents. And the stronger those opponents are the more difficult it will be to win but also the more rewarding it will feel to win it at the end.  But that is another discussion.


* This example doesn’t apply to Manchester United where much of the profit is syphoned off by the Glazer family to pay for their shopping malls and trans-Atlantic life style.  It applies to most other clubs though.


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6 Replies to “The plans of the ECA for football – part 3. Third Party Ownership, Agents etc”

  1. Sorry for the off topic, but you should watch Brasil v Croatia. It is just like when Arsenal get the rough teams who push, stamp shove and get away with it.
    Seems like the ref is not going to send any one off, at least not from Croatia, not even a yellow.


    “Fans burn Fabregas shirts” Why?

    I feel immensely happy with the board and Wenger for not taking the easy option to sign a player that we do not need in a position that is amply stocked.

    Come on the Arsenal.


  3. @para

    At last! Someone who actually saw what Croatia got away with! How the hell did they get their FIRST yellow card after 65 minutes? First one should have been after 12 for the stamp!

  4. I suppose Arsenal supporters will spot it more easily. We are used to seeing it every week.

  5. @Para
    The ref was a blatant ‘homer’. He should have sent Neymar off, it was never a penalty and he disallowed Croatia a perfectly good equalizer because of, and I am guessing here because I could find no other reason, a foul on the goalkeeper?

  6. If FIFA is to live up to its corrupt, anti-Europe reputation and barring any mishap, the cup is staying in Brazil – by every assistance necessary to an already very good team.

    Now back to topic….

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