When the pandemic hit, businesses had to adapt and video calling quickly became the norm. But football, an industry that is known to be all you know, has long relied on face-to-face networking. How would the game adapt to this new world?
Fortunately, the football transfer revolution had already started.
In 2017, a young Dane named Jonas Ankersen identified a problem. The transfer system was not working. Valuations weren’t good and that had major consequences.
“I had seen how clubs got into financial trouble and looked to wealthy investors to bail them out,” Ankersen said. Air sports. “When I looked at the reasons for this, it became clear that a key issue was the transfer market.
“The trade of football players was much less transparent and efficient. Bad and costly decisions were made because everyone involved suffered from a lack of accurate information about what opportunities existed and where.”
Ankersen had a vision. He launched TransferRoom, an online subscription platform telling clubs which players are available for transfer and facilitating communication between them.
This allows clubs to cut out the middleman and even introduce their players to potential buyers. In the sometimes murky world of transfer transactions, TransferRoom has brought clarity.
As Martin Hollaender, CFO of Mexican group Orlegi, explains, it opened up the world of football. “It means you can speak confidentially and you can speak directly,” he says Sky sports. “If you want to talk to Roma or Manchester United tomorrow, you can.”
Roma chief executive Tiago Pinto claims to have completed four of the five deals through the site. Leeds United director of football Victor Orta has made five in a single summer. Rangers athletic director Ross Wilson reveals that the site is open on his desk every day.
Frank Arnesen, technical director of Feyenoord, thanks TransferRoom for helping to organize the signing of the loan from Krasnodar defender Uros Spajic when time was running out. Some claims movements that would previously have taken months are concluded within days.
Meetings organized through TransferRoom have been compared to speed dating. Quick conversations between club representatives during which introductions are made, details exchanged and intentions explicit. It also works. Ankersen’s idea took off.
“There has always been the potential challenge of some people in football being wary of technology and resistant to new ways of working. Old habits die hard. But I think because TransferRoom has worked so well, so quickly , these obstacles were quickly overcome.
“The clubs joined, there was a snowball effect in terms of attracting new members and it quickly became something that policy makers use on a routine basis, not as a novelty.”
Last summer, more than 500 clubs used the platform, including 13 in the Premier League. A year later that number rose to 16. It includes Manchester United and Liverpool, Premier League champions Manchester City and Champions League winners Chelsea.
For larger clubs, it is mainly used to help organize loan moves for younger players. But a total of 1,247 deals have been made since a £ 3million transfer between two league clubs was made four years ago. That total is expected to exceed 1,500 later this year.
It’s the quiet revolution in football.
And, in this pandemic, it has accelerated.
“TransferRoom has played a pivotal role in keeping the transfer market moving over the past 18 months and adoption has grown significantly since we hosted face-to-face meetings. TransferRoom has brought the transfer market into the digital age.
“The Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly caused an increase in the use of our services. It has made it clear to clubs already involved, and many who were not, how vital this can be. to save time and money, especially in times of financial crisis pressure when travel is restricted.
“Without TransferRoom, some of the deals made during the pandemic would never have seen the light of day. Some of our member clubs – AEK Athens, for example – have used us to put deals in place quickly to bring money to help them weather the storm. “
For Ankersen, it is satisfying to solve the problems he had sought to solve. The offers are also increasingly important. In August, Chidera Ejuke left Heerenveen for CSKA Moscow in a £ 10million transfer. “It’s a great thrill when you see the platform being part of something like this.”
It’s a deal that might not have happened before and exemplifies the overall vision that TransferRoom is helping to achieve. “The bottom line is that it’s a complete ecosystem that allows clubs of all sizes, from different countries, to work together,” he adds.
Of course, this entire ecosystem includes agents.
This is the next phase in TransferRoom’s development. Part of its appeal was the lack of player representatives. No agents, no distractions, as one executive puts it. But it is now recognized that they too have a role to play. Transparency will be the key.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that 75% of transfers are to players at the end of their contracts. This means their last club is just not involved – and probably not interested – in finding them new ones. opportunities It depends on the player’s agent to do it.
“Players need agents to represent their interests. But to do this effectively, agents need up-to-date and accurate information about the player profiles that clubs are targeting. In turn, clubs need to know who represents really a player, rather than trusting people who just pretend to be the ones with whom the negotiations should be conducted.
“By integrating agents into the TransferRoom ecosystem, we will make it easier for clubs to find the right players at a time when money for money transfers is not available.”
This move is a bit controversial as the lack of agents was seen as part of the platform’s unique selling point. But Ankersen is confident that allowing only verified agents will make it easier to close more deals.
Clubs will no longer be bombarded with questions about the profile of the player they are looking for – the information will be there for the agents. Negotiations will no longer start just to shock managers at the wage demands – the information will be there for the clubs.
This is an important step for TransferRoom to become essential.
“Of course, the more clubs that use it, the bigger the network that everyone – clubs, agents and players – can operate and do business.
“We want to create a complete solution for everyone involved in the transfer market, so that they have real-time access to all the market data they need. We want TransferRoom to be as important to them as Bloomberg is. for a financial trader. “
It got a little closer this week.
At first glance, a one-season loan from Frosinone to Pogon Szczecin for uncapped 27-year-old striker Piotr Parzyszek could be seen as a trivial transfer. But the Pole’s decision became the first to be initiated by an agent on TransferRoom.
Pogon was surprised to find that Parzyszek was available. They found out when the player’s agents – Forza Sports Group – introduced him to them. Needing a new striker to launch their European campaign on Thursday, they decided to act quickly.
It only took them 15 minutes to respond. The deal was concluded soon after.
The football transfer revolution is here.