Third-party player ownership continues to rankle PL

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has stepped up his fight against third-party player ownership (TPO) by comparing the practice to “indentured slavery”, reports SportBusiness.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has stepped up his fight against third-party player ownership (TPO) by comparing the practice to “indentured slavery”, reports SportBusiness.

TPO has been banned by the Premier League since 2008 in the wake of the fallout from West Ham United’s controversial signing of Argentina internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, two players whose transfer rights were wholly owned by funds.

Scudamore has said such agreements threaten the integrity of football and could be banned worldwide within five years.

“A player in my view is not indentured slavery,” he told Bloomberg. “The registration of that player has been bought for the benefit of that club, and then that club either works that player to the end of his useful life, like any other asset, or that player is transferred.”

The Premier League chief added that he’ll never be convinced of the benefits of third-party investors in players’ transfer rights.

“The fact we still bear the scars from Tevez, Mascherano is not in any way driving us to this conclusion,” he said. “I think the whole thing has an integrity issue, a reputational issue, an economic issue and we just fundamentally think it’s wrong.”

Along with the Premier League, TPO is also outlawed in France’s Ligue 1 and in Polish football.

FIFA says it is evaluating the “complex matter,” while UEFA said it will seek to introduce its own ban if world football’s governing body fails to take action.

A European Commission report was released last month examining the possibility of regulating TPO under European law. The European Club Association (ECA), which represents 207 teams on the continent, also debated TPO at its recent general assembly but said there was “no unanimity” amongst members regarding a complete ban, adding that further talks will be held over the implications of such a move.

TPO is said to be a US$3 billion-a-year market and is common practice in southern Europe and South America. The Traffic Sports agency has invested more than $75 million in the rights of about 60 players since it was established in 2007 and its president of international business, Jochen Loesch, said 90% of players in Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A “are somehow linked to investors.”

He believes talk of a global ban will never become reality. “We are zero worried,” he said. “This rule, if it comes, will be widely ignored by the market.” Loesch said the practice is misunderstood and is similar to a bank loan, adding that a court would overturn a ban.

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