How the world of transfer dealings work

By FA registered intermediary and retired pro footballer Guy Branston

BY the time I became a licensed agent last year, I already knew how a transfer worked. After all, I moved 27 times during my playing days! But for those who don’t, here’s how the transfer window generally functions. First, let me dispel a couple of myths.

It’s a total fallacy that clubs don’t have any power. Don’t ever believe that. They hold the registration, they set the fee. They hold the keys to unlock any move, so any good agent will work with them, not against them.

Also, don’t buy the deadline day hype you see on Sky Sports news. It makes great TV but believe you me,  almost every deadline day deal will have been weeks, if not months, in the making.

There’s just too much paperwork, especially at the top end where you’ve got image rights, entourage and family members who need to be involved in the club.

I worked as head of recruitment at Notts County, so I saw from the other side just how long it can take to get deals done, especially if a foreign player is involved.

These transfers take a lot of thrashing out and, if it takes until the final day, it’s usually just one club dawdling to get a better price because they know personal terms are agreed. In terms of instigating a transfer, nine times out of ten it’s because a manager no longer wants a player.

The club will instruct somebody – the chief scout or head of recruitment – to draft a letter saying that so-and-so is available. That will then be sent to all Football League clubs.

It won’t be made public and it usually has restrictions. For instance, a Championship club will often stipulate he can only play in League One or Two.

More often than not, the agent will be informed by the selling club as a matter of courtesy.

The player will then be given the bad news. Ninety per cent of the time that’s a face-to-face meeting with the manager which is the  honest way to do things. After that, it’s over to someone like me.

They might have four clubs, five clubs, all willing to pay the asking price. Then again, the only option might be a six-month loan. To an agent, that’s basically a freebie – there’s no money in it.

But that’s OK. The fact is, you’ve been paid a year’s money by the lad already, whether in fees, or because they signed a deal at the start of the season.  If he gets another big move, fantastic. If not you aren’t going to force the issue.

At the lower levels, it’s very rare  a player will demand a move. These guys aren’t rich and it isn’t wise to effectively rip up a contract. If he does, it will be a case of me meeting with the CEO to broker a realistic asking price.

Life after football: Former Rotherham, Oldham and Bradford City defender Guy Branston is now an FA registered intermediary (Photo: Action Images / Paul Burrows)

In every case, civility is key. There’s no point falling out with a football club. It’s bad business because they won’t use you again.

The only way to make money in this line of work is to have friends in the game. And the only way to make friends in the game is to be honest and professional because there are a lot of bulls****ers out there.

I’ve also learned is that it’s a lot easier to deal with lads at this level than a bit further up. As a player, I had houses, a gambling addiction, pressure to put food on the table. I wasn’t being paid a lot but I had to keep earning.

Without that, I might have been lazy like too many of today’s players. I know from other agents that it can be very difficult to motivate a millionaire to get off his a*** and run around.

I just want to look after my lads properly the way my agent – and current boss – Lee Philpott looked after me. If that means loaning them a few quid while they find their feet  that’s fine. It’s worth the investment because, down the line, they’ll make progress and make money for everyone.

This article was brought to you by The Football League Paper. On-sale every Sunday, the newspaper provides extensive coverage for all 72 Football League clubs with news, features and gossip plus comprehensive match reports.
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