The study on the economic and legal aspects of transfers of players, which was launched in January 2012, has been finalised and is now publicly available.
The Commission noted in its 2011 Communication on ‘Developing the European Dimension in Sport’ that transfers of players regularly came to public attention because of concerns about the legality of the acts and about the transparency of financial flows involved. The Commission also stated that the time was ripe for an overall evaluation of transfer rules in professional sport in Europe.
The study, launched in this context, has as its primary objective to inform the Commission and to provide a detailed overview of the economic and legal aspects of the transfer systems in the most relevant team sports in Europe, focusing on football and basketball. It was carried out by a consortium composed of KEA European Affairs and CDES (Centre de Droit et Economie du Sport).
The study highlights that:
• Transfer rules are primarily set by sport governing bodies with the aim of ensuring a fair and balanced competition and of promoting youth development.
• There is little interference from national public law, but EU law has had an important impact on the evolution of the rules by favouring mobility of players while recognising sport’s specificities.
• Rules that impose more transparency of transfer transactions will contribute to the fight against fraud and, more generally, to better governance in football.
The main findings of the study are the following:
1. The volume of transfer fees in football in the EU during the 2010/2011 season amounted to € 3 billion. During the same season, the global market for transfer fees in basketball was € 27 million.
2. Football transfer fees increased considerably between 1995 and 2011: the number of transfers in the EU was multiplied by 3.2 while the total value of transfer fees increased 7.4 times.
3. There is an increasing competitive imbalance in both national and European competitions and the current transfer rules do not fight effectively against imbalances in sport competitions.
The study recommends enhancing competitive balance through increased redistribution between clubs, limiting excesses in transfer fees, increasing solidarity mechanisms and improving governance through transparency and fair dispute resolution mechanisms. The study considers that the EU Social Dialogue Committee for Professional Football constitutes the appropriate framework for discussing and implementing the proposed changes.
The results of the study will be discussed by the EU Expert Group on Good Governance as part of its mission to provide recommendations to the Council concerning the topics of transfers, agents and protection of minors.