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Beyond The Star Signings During The Transfer Window - FIFA TMS

Tue 1st Sep 2015 | FIFA

The most expensive signings in the international transfer market have once again grabbed the headlines during this summer’s transfer window. 

Yet while the international transfers with the biggest fees continue to attract the most media attention, the great majority of signings involve no fee whatsoever, for instance due to the player being out of contract, with the key cost attached to most transfers therefore being the player’s salary.

However, salary costs are at present largely unreported, making this aspect of the international transfer market something of a mystery for many clubs around the world, especially those looking to sign a player from a country they are unfamiliar with.

That looks set to change thanks to the publication of a range of information on player salaries by FIFA Transfer Matching System GmbH (FIFA TMS), a subsidiary of FIFA.

The first set of data is to be published with the September 2015 edition of the FIFA TMS Big 5 Transfer Window Analysis report, which examines official international transfer figures for the Big 5 countries (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), and is published twice each year, following the conclusion of the winter and summer transfer windows.

Salary information on those five key markets, as well as others around the world, will also be made available through FIFA TMS publications such as its Global Transfer Market (GTM) and Market Insights reports, as well as its customised data services.

The International Transfer Matching System (ITMS) developed by FIFA TMS is today used by all 209 FIFA member associations (MAs) and more than 6,500 professional football clubs across the world for the handling of cross-border player transfers, having been mandatory for all FIFA MAs and professional clubs since October 2010.

Mark Goddard, the FIFA TMS general manager, said that ITMS has not only provided a major boost to the efficiency of the international transfer market, and helped ease concerns around issues such as the transferring of imaginary players, money laundering, and the protection of minors, but is also helping provide greater transparency in the market, and is aiding MAs and clubs in their transfer strategy and decision-making, through the growing range of information that FIFA TMS is making available.

Goddard explained that such information includes the total amount spent on international transfer fees globally each year (in 2014 it was US$4.074 billion), as well as more detailed figures from within each market. “We’re in the early days of transparency in and around the international transfer market, but it’s a big step, for instance, to go from not knowing the total amount spent on transfer fees each year, and in a particular country, to knowing what that is,” he said.

“From a governance perspective this allows you to start making more educated decisions about where things are going.”

FIFA TMS is now significantly expanding the range of information it is reporting. Its first set of data on salaries will feature aggregated salary information such as the total amount spent on salaries globally, as well as statistics on the ages of players in different markets, and on the different types of transfer, such as permanent deals, loans or the signing of a player out of contract.

Goddard explained that such information is extremely valuable. He observed that around 90% of international transfers don’t involve a transfer fee, with around 70% involving players that are out of contract. “However, each transfer involves the ‘unreported’ cost of the employment contract required to acquire the player’s services,” he said.

“This is what we describe as the missing part of the true value and full picture of the global transfer market. It’s a big deal for us, because everyone is focused on the very small part of the market that involves a transfer fee and the even smaller part of the transfer market where there are massive transfer fees. And that is a very skewed and inaccurate view of the real transfer market, as it actually involves a lot of money going to employment contracts where there are no transfer fees being paid.”

From 2016, FIFA TMS plans to expand the range of information it publishes even further as a result of the granting of a ‘waiver’ by a large number of clubs that will give FIFA TMS permission to publish aggregated data on transfers carried out involving that club. Goddard said that this will allow FIFA TMS to report information from clubs such as the number of transfers it has completed in a particular year, the average transfer fee and salary it has paid, and which countries it has signed players from.

“This will provide a view of how a club is performing on the international transfer market - for instance if they are spending more than they receive,” he said, adding that data covering

specific leagues will also be available, allowing the comparison of data, for instance, from the top flight in Poland with the second division in Ukraine.

The information provided by clubs will be designed to complement the country-specific data already available. FIFA TMS has been able to publish aggregated data on transfers carried out in almost all the different markets since October 2010 following the signing of waivers by over 200 MAs. Such data includes the amount spent on and received for transfer fees each year in each market.

“This has allowed FIFA TMS to make available information such as an MA’s net position,” explained Goddard. “For instance, we can say that Portugal is a net receiver – more money goes into Portugal than leaves, while England is a net spender.”

Information can also be accessed on a specific ‘transfer stream’ – covering transfers going from one country to another; as well as data on ‘pairs’ of countries – covering all the transfers completed between two countries in both directions (such as from the US to Canada, and from Canada to the US). The data for 2015 shows that so far the most active pair has been England and Wales with 146 transfers, followed by England and Scotland with 124, Brazil and Portugal with 121, and the US and Canada with 71.

In fifth place is Brazil and Japan with 70, which Goddard observed is “perhaps surprising given that the other four pairs are either neighbours or speak the same language, and given the cultural and language differences between Brazil and Japan.” He added that as well as highlighting such links, the data can also be used to illustrate trends such as whether there are more players moving from Africa to Europe, or from Africa to Asia.

Goddard said that by continuing to make the international transfer market more transparent, FIFA TMS is in turn also enhancing the market’s credibility and governance. “The transparency quite logically leads to a high degree of credibility, as the information being provided about where money is going, and to whom, and also if there are any issues, and any compliance involved, shows how credible the market is, and highlights its effectiveness and efficiency.”

He added: “If you can measure something, it means you can also manage it. And if you can manage something, it means you can also govern it. And that’s why our expansion of the range of information we are making available about the global transfer market is so important.”

Written by Jonathan Dyson @JonathanPDyson

FIFA TMS On Deadline Day

The FIFA TMS International Transfer Matching System (ITMS) is maintained locally in Zurich by the FIFA TMS team. “We are available for special working hours during deadline day,” says Laura Corica, the FIFA TMS head of client services.

“From 9am til midnight, we are here answering phone calls and emails, supporting more than 8,000 users.”

Mark Goddard, the FIFA TMS general manager, adds: “Our objective is to ensure that everyone gets their transfer in, and if anyone needs any help we’re here right up until the deadline to assist them.”

A countdown clock appears in the ITMS system and stays on until midnight local time on the final day of the registration period applicable to each country, so that users are aware of exactly how much time they have left to complete a transfer.

In addition, live updates on the latest activity are provided through the FIFA TMS Twitter feed (@FIFATMS).

According to FIFA TMS data, 400 of the 6,505 international transfers completed during the 2014 summer window were finalised on the September 1 deadline day.

This article appeared in fcbusiness #87 CLICK HERE to read the full magazine

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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