Football Transfers in Spain: How to Do a Deal

Introduction:

In our latest series „How to Complete a Football Transfer Anywhere in the World,“ we explore the unique differences in the football transfer market in each country. Besides each country having its tax, employment, and other laws to adhere to, agents also need to grasp various aspects such as the culture of each country, different club structures, salary and transfer budgets, league regulations, work permit restrictions, and more.

In this blog, we will focus on how to complete a transfer in Spain, under the regulations of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), of a player to the Spanish League or La Liga Santander.

Main Differences:

The Spanish transfer system has been a well documented one and protagonists to some of the bigger transfers in history in the last few decades in the football world. As per usual in football, with every transfer window (Two in the case of Spain), there is media speculation, coverage, and exposure, specially considering clubs as FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid or Real Madrid which have been involved in 7 out of the top 10 highest operations ever recorded.

It is vital for agents to understand they will be negotiating and discussing possible transfers in terms of euros (€) rather than pounds sterling or dollars.

Another unique characteristic of the Spanish transfer market, which represents a significant opportunity to agents, is the wealth of the leagues, especially La Liga Santander Average salary in La Liga rounds up to2.4 million per year, making it a very attractive market for agents and their clients, and only trailing behind the Saudi Pro Ligue and the Premier League.

The revenue generated from TV and broadcasting rights is not evenly distributed in Spain. This represents a challenge, making it even harder for smaller clubs. 50% of the rights are distributed equally among the participants, 25% is subject to each club’s social implementations and the remaining 25% depends on the performance.On the sponsorship side, we must mention that while it remains a very attractive option, it sill trails behind the Premier League.

Tv rights are shared with the same format in the Second Division. The Spanish Segunda División salaries are very competitive in comparison to some other well-known European first divisions, such as Everidise, which has only a 50,000 average salary difference. Spain is a lucrative market that, if agents understand how to negotiate within, can be an attractive option for them and their clients.

Transfer System Structure:

Spain has two transfer windows each year. A month-long window during the season starting in January and a longer window between seasons, officially open for about 60 days from July to early September. During these periods, clubs can register players for the rest of the season or the upcoming one.

The Spanish transfer market is rarely quiet. To get a deal done, an agent usually talks extensively with clubs and their clients between transfer windows. Often, a deal is agreed upon in principle well before the window officially opens and in a lot of cases, especially in recent times, some might even be announced before. It’s then that the completion and acts of undergoing medicals, media duties, and signing contracts take place.

Overall, football clubs in Spain are very experienced in the transfer market, professionalized and have transfer strategies and plans they follow. Some clubs prefer identifying young, high-potential talents for good value that they believe can improve their squad and develop, possibly being sold for a much higher price. Some even limit their squad to local players, such as Athletic Club with the Basque country.Others, the bigger and wealthier clubs, target well-known marquee talents to win trophies. Agents need to understand where their client lies on this spectrum and identify the most appropriate clubs. Targeting the right opportunities can make the chances of completing a successful deal far more likely for the agent and their client.

For clubs competing in the higher tiers of Spanish football, agents should identify how each club conducts its independent transfer system. This is because they often have a high-functioning in-house transfer department. Different clubs have different hierarchical structures for their transfer business, led by a Head of Recruitment, Technical Director, Sporting Director, or Director of Football.

Although each title is a different variation, these roles are very similar in many ways. Other individuals such as the Chairman and Chief Scouts will be heavily involved in the club’s transfer system, which will also be overseen and scrutinized by the owner(s) of the club or Board Members as some clubs are “owned” by their members. The transfer team can be extensive and include additional members such as scouts, analysts, and lawyers. As an agent, identifying and knowing the right contact with at least a ‚decision-influencing‘ level of authority inside the club will enhance the likelihood of completing a deal.

It is important to note that in Spain most contracts have a rescission clause or an agreed quantity for a liberatory clause.

Unlike England, where financial details are typically quoted as gross values, Spanish football operates with a mixture of gross and net values in contract negotiations. This means that while some financial details may be quoted as gross figures, others may be presented as net values after deductions such as taxes and other expenses. Agents working in the Spanish football market must be adept at navigating this dual financial structure to ensure their clients receive favourable contract terms.

When completing a deal in Spain, agents should also consider seeking specialist legal advice from experts in Spanish contractual and employment laws. There is a precedent and current trend of the Government keeping a very strict control on Football Players and their taxes, given the complexity of some of their operations to maximise their income.

This will ensure that all aspects of the contract are legally sound and that there are no unexpected surprises or disappointments for the agent and their client. Additionally, agents should be aware of any specific regulations or requirements imposed by the RFEF or other governing bodies in Spain regarding player contracts and transfers.

Financial and Payment Details:

A notable aspect of the Spanish market is its financial reputation and influence in individual rewards, especially in the recent years. Beyond clients often desiring to compete and succeed historic and iconic Spanish teams, the sponsorships opportunities given the media exposure present nowadays in La Liga increases options for players on and off the pitch.  Fun stat: Out of the last 15 Ballon D’ors, 14 were playing in Spain at the time and there were only 4 winners: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

The first part of an employment contract in Spain is a standardized contract provided by the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Within the section “clauses” as per the official template, is where most bonuses for goals, clean sheets or matches played should be negotiated and included by the client’s agent.

Something very important that agents must be inform their clients is that the Spanish tax system works on a 50%-50% basis. 50% will be fixed regardless of the location for the central government and the other 50% determined by the community where the athlete lives. The most expensive community to live in Spain is Valencia.

Football players must pay in general, at the very least 48% of their salary. However, they can tribute 15% of their salary through an external company for the concept of image rights.

VISAS:

Spain, like many European countries, has specific visa requirements for foreign players hoping to compete in its football leagues.

Something that plays a vital role in Spain is the limit of 3 non-EU citizens per squad. The only way around is for players that have a long term stay such as Araujo, Vinicius or Militao to obtain a Spanish passport after residing in the territory for a while.

Agents must be properly informed of this situation in order to avoid offering a player to a club that might not have space in their squad for a non EU citizen player.

In this link, you can have a look at the official government document that enables professional athletes to obtain a residence permit in Spain and the different requirements.

Final Remarks:

Football holds a special place in Spanish culture and society. With a rich history and passionate fanbase, football clubs across the country evoke strong emotions and community spirit. Even teams in the lower tiers of Spanish football enjoy dedicated support and healthy attendance at their matches. When negotiating deals for clients in Spain, agents must recognize the significance of the club’s fans in determining the success of their client’s tenure.

Spanish football fans are renowned for their passion and unwavering support for their clubs. Their voices and opinions are valued by football clubs, influencing decisions on player signings and team strategies. Successful foreign players in Spain often engage effectively with the fanbase, fostering connections and earning their support. Agents play a crucial role in advising clients to interact authentically with fans, as fan backing can sway the outcome of a potential deal.

Good level and knowledge of the Spanish language is invaluable for agents and players seeking deals in Spain. Spanish is widely spoken not only in the country but also in the football community. Effective communication in Spanish facilitates negotiations and builds rapport with clubs and stakeholders. Agents should encourage clients to learn Spanish from an early stage to enhance their appeal to Spanish clubs and ease their transition into the league. Fluency in the language enhances the chances of success for both the agent and the player in navigating the Spanish football environment.

The Spanish media plays a significant role in shaping public perception and influencing football-related decisions. When a player is linked with a transfer to a Spanish club, the media intensifies its coverage, scrutinizing the player’s background and performance. Misinformation and sensationalized stories can impact the negotiation process and ultimately affect the outcome of a deal. Agents must manage press coverage of their clients, ensuring positive portrayals and cultivating relationships with journalists to influence club perception positively.

 

Dr Erkut Sogut & Ruben Figueira

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