What is a football transfer?

Transfers are talked about ad nauseam in the football world and there is always speculation about players move clubs. Transfers happen every year as there are two windows that allow the major leagues around the world to complete transactions. Players can request a football transfer or clubs can instigate buying or selling a player. But what is a football transfer? If you are a player seeking a life as a professional or semi-pro footballer, you may wonder how they actually work.

A football transfer: How does it work?

A transfer occurs when a player, who is under contract with one club, moves to another team. The player’s registration details transfer from the selling football club to the buying football club. Since his/her registration is transferred, the term football transfer is used when describing the transaction.

The buying club purchases the player’s contract and pays the selling club a set amount of money. The money paid is known as the transfer fee.

Buying and selling around the globe

Transfers work differently from country to country. In Europe, the buying club negotiates a brand-new contract with the player they purchase. The clubs must first agree on a price and after that is set, the player and new club will agree to personal terms.

In North American football (soccer), the club that buys the player also buys his/her contract. Rather than negotiate a new contract, they assume the player’s contract from the previous club. Teams in the United States and Canada do not often transfer players. Rather, they trade (swap) one player for another. This typically means a team will acquire a player that fits their needs playing-wise and/or financially.

Most major transfers that see large sums exchanged by teams is not handed over all at once. For example, when Barcelona signed Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for £142 million, they agreed to pay the English club in instalments. The Reds are still receiving payments from Barcelona today. Some of those payments came from add-ons from selling incentives, including:

  • £18 million for Coutinho’s first 100 matches for Barcleona
  • Barcelona must  pay £4.5m at each 25-match interval to total that £18m
  • £4.5m due when Barca qualified for 2018/19 Champions League
  • Another £4.5m when they qualified for the 19/20 Champions League

Clubs can continue making significant money off of one player well into the future.

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