ROBERT HOLLAND helps sports professionals with their financial well-being
The football transfer window is only a few days away from closing. While the famous Jim White yellow tie may have been retired by Sky Sports, there’s still a huge amount of buzz in the media about players on the move. Fans get in on the act on social media too – “just spotted prem star at the airport”, my mate saw so-and-so arriving for a medical. True or not, it can all add to the sense of drama around the window.
Who is signing for whom? Is it a loan deal or permanent? Will the player receive international clearance in time? It’s a fast-paced world, certainly for clubs in England where a record £815m was spent in the 2023 January transfer window.
While Scotland may be operating on a smaller scale, there are always deals happening here to keep fans captivated.
That said, what happens when the deal is complete? Should everyone take a step back and give a collective high-five? The answer is no. This is just the start of the process as a club does everything it can to ensure it gets the most out of its new signing. It’s a significant investment so it’s crucial to help make the move as successful as possible.
This is why we have built a specialist sports law practice which provides a complete support package for footballers putting pen to paper on transfer deals.
The single-source service encompasses not only contract support but also agent, legal, financial and property advice to help the player settle into their new squad – often in a different part of the country … or world.
We represent professionals in a number of sports, but at this time of year there’s a specific focus on football as clubs refresh their player pools and many move on to new opportunities. Our latest success was the transfer of Rangers youngster Jamie Newton to Nottingham Forest.
Aberdein Considine supported Jamie, a left-back, and his family, with career advice, review of the English Premiership team’s training complex, contract and bonus schemes and financial and investment advice.
We’ve seen over the years how counsel on all issues associated with a move can help professionals – to their benefit, and to the benefit of their new employer.
Aberdein Considine has seen an increase in demand for its sports law services, not just in football but also in rugby and athletics. Our sports law practice includes our consultant Darren Walker, an independent qualified FIFA-accredited football agent, and one of only a handful operating within the regulatory structure of a full-service law firm.
The offering also features former Aberdeen captain Russell Anderso, a senior wealth management advisor in our financial services team at AC Wealth. He has been through the path the youngsters are treading and is on hand to offer the right guidance and support. The combination of agency and legal services is unique in Scotland and provides comprehensive support to youngsters aiming to make it in a highly competitive environment.
It’s a rounded service; one which has focused on the younger player securing that first step up in contract terms or landing a much bigger deal with a new club. The latter is likely to involve a significant change in circumstances and therefore additional legal and financial advice, from contracts to drafting a will.
In our experience, footballers just want to play football and not have external distractions compromise their performance on the pitch. There’s a need to take care of those complexities on their behalf and let them flourish. In addition, players – a young one in particular – will want to be given the right advice and that may not necessarily mean accepting the highest salary on offer.
The prevailing perception of agents in the world of football often paints them as primarily focused on quick financial gains or securing the highest bids by playing clubs off each other. However, we are committed to altering this viewpoint by adopting a more thoughtful and long-term strategy that prioritises the player’s interests and career development.
The coming week will likely see numerous players switch clubs before the transfer window closes in Scotland at midnight on 1 February. In England it closes an hour earlier, at 11pm. As well as their own internal processes, clubs should look to source the best external support to help their new arrival.
Prudent legal, financial, wealth and property planning by professional footballers will allow them to concentrate on doing what they do best: play football.
Edinburgh-based Robert Holland is a partner and head of employment law at Aberdein Considine. He is an expert in sports law having represented numerous professionals in a range of sports, including football, rugby and athletics. In the past he captained Edinburgh City and also played for The Spartans.