After a summer that saw them negotiate the deal that made Jack Grealish the first UK player sold for £ 100million, even for ICM Stellar Sports, the final hours of Tuesday’s transfer window were particularly busy. Daniel James was exposed as a Leeds United player after leaving Manchester United for £ 24million as another client – 18-year-old France international Eduardo Camavinga – signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid.
As the 11pm deadline approached, it was also confirmed that two other stellar clients – Saúl Ñíguez and Odsonne Édouard – had completed their moves to Chelsea and Crystal Palace respectively, with Premier League clubs spending around 1.35 billion pounds in transfer fees since the window opened in June. So much for the English football bubble burst by the withdrawal from the European Union and the Covid.
As of January 1, all players transferred from EU countries need approval from the Football Association’s governing body to obtain a work permit, and English clubs have been banned from recruiting foreign players until ‘at the age of 18. Top-level transfers such as Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea for £ 97.5million and Manchester United’s surprise late decision to Cristiano Ronaldo have shown there is more money than ever at the top of the league. Premier League.
“Brexit hasn’t really made a difference for us,” says Jonathan Barnett, who founded Stellar with partner David Manasseh in 1993 and still runs the business despite being sold to US entertainment agency ICM Partners. Last year. “It was a smooth process but we are the biggest agency in the world.
“Maybe for some players it has become more difficult because they are used to moving a little more and it has become more difficult,” he adds. “But we had no problem – we have good players and if they are wanted here, that’s not a problem.”
According to Omar Chaudhuri – director of intelligence at the 21st Club, a consultancy that works with many top teams in Europe – although data from the transfer windows in January and this summer shows activity levels in the high market range are similar to before Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a marked drop lower.
“If you look at the trading volume for players over $ 20 million or $ 30 million, it’s the same as before, but there was a massive market crash below that – especially between 0 and 10 million euros, “he said. said. “This is due to a mix of big clubs having more money but also smaller clubs having more uncertainty about their future income. If you are relegated from the Premier League, the league is obviously not a very attractive league at the moment because it is so hard to come out of it.
A lack of liquidity in the market below the upper echelons has proven to be a challenge for many English clubs, with many players in the lower leagues offering shorter-term deals due to financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“There is a challenge between what the sellers think the price for these players is and what the buyers are willing to pay,” Chaudhuri said. “The sellers are obviously pegged to the prices they bought from these players before Covid, but the market has changed and that is clearly causing this massive drop in volume. Short term contracts are a reality for teams in leagues one and two, financial uncertainty means you cannot commit to long term deals. It’s a constant compromise with these clubs trying to find new players, but it’s never a straightforward process.
After a summer that saw Lionel Messi sign a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain worth an estimated £ 25million per season after leaving Barcelona strapped for cash, Real Madrid’s late attempt to signing Kylian Mbappé surprised Barnett, who represented Gareth Bale during his £ 85million world record transfer from Tottenham to the Spanish capital in 2013.
“Europe itself is very affected,” he says. “There is no money in Spain or Italy at the moment because of all the problems they have at each club. England have been lucky – the Premier League is well run and is going strong. is well behaved. “
One of the benefits of Brexit for European clubs was to be an end to the poaching of English clubs of emerging stars such as Cesc Fàbregas, who joined Arsenal from the famous Barca academy at the age of 16. But Chaudhuri believes the academy system that has helped produce so many Gareth England’s Southgate team reaching the Euro 2020 final has softened the blow.
“We have seen over the last few years the strength of the Premier League’s development and the quality of the players who come out of it in a way that compensates,” he said. “The effects of the new rules for EU players may take some time to be felt, but if you look at the state of the finances of European clubs at the moment, the Premier League is still so rich thanks to its deals broadcast, so I don’t think they’ll be too hard hit by this in the long run. A counter-argument is also that Premier League clubs have had access to young South American players and the rest of the world who don’t. may not have been able to come before.
Three beneficiaries of the new regulations were Patson Daka, Enock Mwepu and Fashion Sakala. Zambia internationals signed for Leicester, Brighton and Rangers respectively this summer, though their country is ranked 87th by Fifa. This would have meant that they needed a special waiver to get a work permit under the old system, but all three qualified comfortably under the new points-based approach due to their experience in Europe: in the Austrian league with Red Bull Salzburg for Daka and Mwepu and with the Belgian side of Ostend for Sakala.
As for Barnett, who is vice-chairman of the Football Forum – an international movement for agents and players created in 2019 – he says the only major problem has been new restrictions on deals with European clubs.
“British agents have been prevented from working in their country, but we are turning a blind eye to this and allowing anyone to work here,” he says. “It’s ridiculous, even if the FA doesn’t seem to care. But we are no longer in Europe, so we have to comply with the new regulations.