Behind The Scenes – Things You Might Not Know About the Financial Side Of Soccer

By Holly Dodd

The world of sports has always been a business, but it might surprise you to learn just exactly how profitable soccer has become. In the post-Bosman transfer landscape (when a player can transfer teams without a fee after their contract is up), teams and players have more power than ever when it comes to negotiating salaries and fees. An influx of money and an increase in the profile of the game over the last decade or so has led to the gap between rich and poor teams getting larger, teams spending more on players, and overall financial growth for both clubs and leagues across the globe. Here are some unknown facts about the financial side of soccer:

Financial Caps: In all soccer leagues around the globe, federations have implemented a spending cap which limits the amount of money any club can spend on an athlete’s salary. This means the club or team aren’t allowed to collectively pay their players more than the given amount otherwise they can face reproductions. There is a sliding scale of punishment federations can give out to teams who break this rule. This can range from a slight slap on the wrist to massive fines to the club or team, and possible stripping of any titles they’ve won previously. A club is only allowed to spend 70% of its total revenue on the player’s salaries. Few clubs have gotten away with breaking this rule in the past and have faced appropriate punishments from their respective soccer federations.

Players rarely argue their own corner: When the transfer market rolls around, whether that be in January or in the summer, players who have had their contracts run out or who are bid for by opposing teams nearly always have their negotiations done by their agent. Negotiations are a vital part of the process for a player as it can be the difference between being properly compensated for their skills or having a club take advantage of a player and not treating them fairly. This is done by agents because the players are paid to play soccer and aren’t taught or should be expected to deal with their own money.

Financial Fair Play: This is another rule all soccer teams must follow. FFP is a rule implemented to make sure teams don’t spend more in the transfer market than they are making to gain an advantage over their rivals. This rule also prevents the team from getting into poor financial issues that might threaten the long-term survival of the club. This levels the playing field from a financial perspective as some clubs don’t have the funding others do, therefore allowing the lesser-paid clubs to not be completely cast aside in the league due to money and not the ability of their players. However, in Major League Soccer (MLS), it’s very common to have very wealthy investors within the club itself who like to feed money into the club so they can return on their investments and see their teams win.

As a fan, having a good understanding of what is going on behind the scenes in soccer clubs and federations around the globe gives good insight into how teams work, how players are feeling and possibly why your team isn’t performing as well as they should be. Soccer is a billion-dollar business and many in the industry see it as just that, a business. Many fans have also said that the money that surrounds the beautiful game has now ruined aspects for the fans as prices skyrocket and any talk about soccer is all about finance.

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