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Transfer fees and deal sheets – how transfer deadline day works for Manchester United and Man City

Clubs were rushing to complete their summer transfer business ahead of the window closing at 11pm this evening.

Although the window has been open since June, clubs are always renowned for working right up until the bell to try and get their respective squad in the best possible shape ahead of the long campaign that lies ahead.

Both Manchester City and Manchester United have been busy this summer, with both clubs writing their very own success stories. City have signed England international Jack Grealish in a British transfer record worth £100million and Manchester United have re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as landing Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho in big-money deals.

United confirmed the signing of Ronaldo earlier today, meaning they are unlikely to complete any more last-minute business. City, too, are not expected to add to their squad before the window slams shut.

However, as we all know only too well, nothing can be guaranteed on transfer deadline day.

The final day of the window often sees clubs hit the panic button in the hope of getting some last-minute business concluded or getting a deal over the line for a long-term target after months of blood, sweat and tears.

Managers will have drawn up a list of targets and it is then down to the likes of sporting directors and the recruitment department to be engaging with players’ agents and trying to make moves come to fruition.

How, though, does a deal come to fruition and get over the line?

Nowadays, football agents can often be viewed negatively and portrayed in a negative light, with them driving up wage demands and transfer fees. As well as that, they are also keen to secure themselves their own tidy sum at the end of it.

Although agents can cause problems from time to time in deals and negotiations, they do play a key role for clubs, especially on deadline day, and can be the difference between a deal happening or falling on deaf ears at the very last moment.

As explained by the Liverpool Echo, in his book ‘Done Deal’, sports lawyer Daniel Geey said: “Many agents do earn significant sums, but they are well rewarded partly because of the fragile and unpredictable nature of their job.

“The glamorous signing ceremony is only the tip of the player-management iceberg. The primary role of a player’s agent may be to understand when, on the one hand, to aggressively push for a transfer or a new contract with the club and when, on the other hand, to be the diplomat if a player is having trouble settling in, struggling with management or not performing on the pitch.

“An agent does their best work when managing and leveraging situations (both positive and negative) to a player’s advantage.

“Clubs need good agents for selling and buying players, and almost all clubs realise this. They build up relationships with trusted agents so that deals can be pushed through when they need to happen. This means clubs cannot afford to burn bridges with some agents.

“Agents understand who is in the market for a particular player and who can match up a player who is no longer needed at one club with an opportunity somewhere else.

“A selling club’s chairman may not be aware of that opening. Agents have a fuller picture of the selling and buying market and can be of key value to selling as well as buying clubs.

“Agents are also aware of the moving parts of various deals that can cause chain reactions. Individual club executives may not have this visibility.

“Agents are unlikely to receive much sympathy from fans for the job they do, but in my experience they are very much a necessity for clubs and players alike, and many provide a skill set necessary to get a deal over the line.”

Managers do have a tendency to make contact with a player before giving the go-ahead for a deal to go any further. They will have been aware of their talents, but a conversation with the player often provides them with a better insight into their mentality.

Once a target has been pinpointed and an agreement over a fee is in place, including how it will be paid and any clauses that may be inserted in the deal.

Should a player be coming from abroad, clubs tend to want to get the deal over the line in person and this is when the luxury of private jets come into play.

For example, Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car was ready to travel from France to England to sort out a deal to join Liverpool. He was ready to board a flight, but never made it to Anfield after Marseille pulled the plug on the deal at the very last moment. Ozan Kabak ended up joining Jurgen Klopp’s side instead.



Duje Caleta-Car was denied a move to Liverpool back in January.
Duje Caleta-Car was denied a move to Liverpool back in January.

The club signing the player likes to get them in face-to-face, especially when a big transfer fee is involved, as it takes away some of the risk and allows for the club medical staff to assess them ahead of a full medical.

Dealing with agents is where salaries are sorted, commissions agreed with the intermediaries and any other such conditions such as travel arrangements and accommodation are all sorted.

When it is mid-way through a transfer window then there is no real pressure on time, unless it is to get a deal done before anybody else has the chance to come in and gazump it. However, time is ticking a lot quicker on deadline day and clubs know that they are working against the clock.

The use of a fax machine is not quite as often nowadays but Premier League clubs have a number of options to send documents to league bosses and are able to send desktop faxes and scanned documents via e-mail.

In order to register a player with the league, the Premier League must be in receipt of all the documents relating to the transfer, including the contract, the transfer agreement, permission to work in the UK if it is required and international clearance if signing a player from overseas.

Premier League staff then process the paperwork and ensure that, if signing a player from abroad, that all the details match up between the buying and selling club via FIFA’s Transfer Matching System. Only if all details from both sides are correct will a transfer be approved.

Buying a player on deadline day carries risks. Clubs are making a heavy investment and want to make sure that the player they are signing is in top shape, which is where medicals come in, which usually take the best part of a day.

With just a couple of hours of a window remaining clubs will have to look at past injury records and take medical advice from the selling club before committing, although they will conduct their own full medical after a deal has got over the line, although that is often not ideal.

But buying clubs would have had access to medical records send over from the medical professionals at the selling club that would be pored over by doctors and medical staff so that some of the jeopardy is removed.

However, some deals do get concluded very, very late in the day, literally just minutes before the final bell rings.

With the window shutting at 11pm, for any deal that a club wants to get done in the two hours before then a deal sheet needs to be submitted.

A deal sheet allows a club to confirm that a deal has been reached so that they can be afforded additional time to complete all of the relevant documentation to the League. A deal sheet cannot be used prior to 9pm on deadline day.

The deal sheet informs the Premier League the proposed transfer, transfer fee and conditions, and if accepted it gives clubs a two-hour extension until 1am to get all of the paperwork sent across to the League and to ensure that both clubs are able to match up their details on the FIFA TMS.

On deal sheets, the Premier League says: “If there is a problem and a club does not meet the deadline then the Premier League Board has the ability to either refuse the application or grant an application and, if thought necessary, impose conditions by which the club making the application and the player shall be bound.”

Before any documentation is sent across for final submission the legal team at the buying and selling clubs will have looked over the deal and all parties having reached full agreement over every detail. Even the smallest hiccup on deadline day can result in a transfer failing to make it over the line.

After that it is a case of the Premier League and FA sorting out the registration and relevant clearance, by which time clubs have already been able to announce their new signing to their legions of fans around the globe.

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