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Transfer & Fees Made Easy – Part One

Earlier in the season I wrote a blog commenting on how ridiculous it was that so many people, fans and journalists alike, were comparing the transfer fees of James Milner to Manchester City and Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid when there were a number of extenuating circumstances…writes Football FanCast’s Howard Hockin.

And predictably enough, as a new transfer window swings into action, we get the same shock, horror and outrage at the fee being discussed for the transfer of Darren Bent from Sunderland to Aston Villa. Yet again people are all too keen to point out other transfer fees as some sort of proof that he is overpriced.

Why is it so black and white with some people when discussing transfer fees? Every transfer is unique – so many factors come into play that decide what that fee is, that the actual skill of the player becomes the tip of the iceberg. And what is a market value for a player? Well the fact is there isn’t one. There’s no manual available, no graphs to check to see what a player is worth, no complex formula – it is a figure that cannot be determined – what is the worth of a human being to a football club? Almost impossible to say. And there are other costs as well of course – wages, signing on fees, payments to agents and so on. The transfer fee is just the beginning, and it often includes add-ons that will only be paid if the player is successful anyway, plus sell-on clauses, image rights, and so much more.

So it might be stating the obvious, but what are the factors?

Do the selling club need to sell? If the selling club are desperate to sell, this puts the buyer in a better position to haggle a good price.

Do the selling club want to sell? If the buying club is after a player the other club had no intention of selling, then the price will inevitably rise. The favourite quote of those shocked at the Bent fee over the last 24 hours has been to mention that van der Vaart only cost £7m. Good value for sure, but then he wasn’t wanted by Madrid, was languishing on the bench, and thus probably wanted out anyway, and Madrid were a few hours from being stuck with him for at least another 4 months. Any potential buying club was in a very strong position.

Does the player want to leave? If he is angling for a move, it of course helps the buying club to come to a deal on their terms. If there is one criticism of Villa’s fee that I personally would make, it’s that Bent wants to leave – but of course Sunderland could make him stay if they so wished, though the player usually gets his own way in the end.

Part 2 …Tomorrow!


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Article title: Transfer & Fees Made Easy – Part One

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