The precedent in the Premiership has been set by Tevezcherano and West Ham, but private ownership of players is something that has been happening in South America for a long time (stretching back to a young and promising lad called Ronaldo) and – if super agent Pini Zahavi has his way – the rest of Europe will be following suit shortly.
Zahavi is apparently being asked to manage a transfer fund of 100M to be used to buy ownership in promising young players across the world, whose careers and transfers will then be managed by Zahavi and the other private investors.
“The fund is not quite complete, but we’re aiming to raise around Â£100 million in order to buy shares in players,” Zahavi told the Sunday Mirror.
“They’ve asked me to find the players and act as advisor to the fund. The plan is absolutely legal.”
“We will look mainly for young players who develop and eventually play at the highest level.”
“Some players will stay at their clubs and some will move.”
“Already around 80 percent of players in South America are partly owned by investors, as well as the clubs they play for.”
While the knee jerk reaction to such a process in the Premiership and across Europe has generally been one of panic and eulogising the end of football, there are some potential upsides. No longer will the best players in the world be limited to the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool but instead clubs like West Ham will have a shot regardless of their ability to pay a ginormous transfer fee or dangle the lure of Champions League football.
The downside, of course, is that it will become increasingly difficult these clubs to plan for the long term. How does Alan Pardew spend his transfer budget when he has Tevez and Mascherano in the side, but at any moment they could be swooped up by a bigger club without West Ham seeing a penny of the transfer fee? Does he buy the players who could be considered long term replacements for Tevezcherano, or does he build around them? It would seem silly to do the latter, but difficult to do the former while maintaining squad harmony.
Having a club’s ability to hold onto a player be completely at the mercy of a third party is risky at best, insane at worst. With loans, at least the club knows when the player’s time is up. So just as most clubs are finally getting the hang of the transfer window, the already cutthroat world of football transfers looks to become a lot more complicated.