The number of transfers in German football fell again in the 2021/22 season after an interim high. Nevertheless, various players’ agents are likely to have made a tidy profit with this circumvention.
According to the statutes, agents are not actually allowed to secure a share in a possible multi-million euro sale of their client when transferring a professional player. The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt/Main has also confirmed this passage from the FIFA mediator rules. Most recently, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe dealt with a corresponding complaint by the agency Rogon, and the Federal Court of Justice referred factual questions to the European Court of Justice.
Exclusive mandate undermines ban
However, clubs like agents have been leveraging this ban with a so-called exclusive mandate for several years anyway. Formally, in the course of the outward placement of a professional, it is stipulated that the agent must always be mandated by the club (and remunerated accordingly) in the case of a further transfer – even if the player has parted company with the advisor. In this way, a service is always formally provided, which the club must remunerate accordingly. A comparable agreement was revealed a year ago in the case of the then-Frankfurt professional Rafael Borré. In the meantime, this has become a standard procedure in the industry, even if some supervisory boards and club presidents consider the practice to be controversial, especially when stakes higher than 10 or 15 per cent of the club’s profits are agreed upon in the case of a resale.
In the 2018/19 season, 25 away transfers took place in Germany’s top three men’s leagues (Bundesliga: 11/2nd Liga: 11/3rd Liga: 3). In 2019/20 there were 26 (13/9/4), and in 2020/21 the total exploded to 46 (22/13/11). This is likely to have been a coronavirus-related effect. After all, a wayward transfer can make sense for two reasons: firstly, to lure an agent as well as his protégé – it is not uncommon for players to also participate in the commissions – to the club with high earning potential. Secondly, to get a no longer needed professional with a long-term contract off the payroll.
The number of away signings levelling off
Now, with the pandemic winding down, this situation seems to have eased. In 2021/22, there were “only” 38 away placements. In the 3rd league, where presumably salary-saving was the main motive, the phenomenon dropped from 11 to 4, while it remained consistently high in the Bundesliga (20 instead of 22) and 2nd league (14 instead of 13). Looking at the several transfers from the Beletage that bear the stamp “Wegvermittlung”, it seems reasonable to assume that the agents did not miss out: Listed are, among others, the million-euro transfers of Leon Bailey (from Bayer Leverkusen to Aston Villa for 32 million euros), Jadon Sancho (from BVB to Manchester United for 85 million euros), Erling Haaland (from BVB to Manchester City for 60 million euros), Nicolas Gonzalez (from VfB Stuttgart to AC Florenz for 25 million euros) or Gregor Kobel (from VfB Stuttgart to BVB for 15 million euros).
The most transfers away in 2021/22 in the Bundesliga are due to VfB Stuttgart (5), followed by Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen (both 4). In the Unterhaus, FC Schalke 04 (5) leads the statistics – ahead of Hannover 96 and SC Paderborn (both 3). In the 3rd division, 1. FC Kaiserslautern is responsible for 75 per cent of all transfers, with three. By the way: In the women’s football Bundesliga, there was not a single transfer in the corresponding period.