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Undisclosed Transfer Fees Used To Keep Fans In Dark

6 years ago
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A growing trend in recent years has seen Premier League clubs generally stating ‘undisclosed transfer fees’ rather than the figure that a player has been sold for.

This summer reached a new high (low?) when the Guardian stated it ‘was an insult to fans’ that of 115 transfers, only 5 had an officially disclosed fee.

The practice is largely seen as a way of keeping fans in the dark as to club finances and/or to somehow improve a club’s future bargaining position.

However, the excellent financialfairplay.co.uk website has pointed to the different approach in Italy, where all clubs have no choice but to publish details for every player; stating the amount paid for them, when their contract ends and depreciated book value. The odd amounts are apparently due to medical and legal fees being included in the total figure. However, agent fees are not included. What it does mean though is there is no place for undisclosed transfer fees.

These are the details that Juventus published on 30th June 2013 Juventus published the following report as at 30 June 2013:

Each player’s purchase price is ‘written down’ over the course of his contract, meaning that his ‘book value’ goes down each season. So for example in the Juve figures, Gianluigi Buffon was bought for 52,884,000 euros but now has a book value of only 1,429,000 euros. A bit like if you have your own business and have a vehicle, in your accounts it depreciates in value each season. In football this ‘amortisation’ cost can be substantial, with Arsenal reporting their total amortisation (depreciation) costs of £41m in the 2012/13 accounts, though there was no breakdown for individual players.

The Italian way means that fans are armed with much more information to understand club finances and helps with the governance of football clubs.

It is then argued that basket cases such as Portsmouth and Leeds wouldn’t have got away with the mad way these clubs were ran for so long, as it would have been far more transparent for journalists and supporters  and helped to give them the ammunition/information to challenge the fact that what was happening was unsustainable far earlier.

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