Premier League clubs spent nearly £ 1.5 billion ($ 1.8 billion) on nearly 100 permanent transfers last summer, but the next window – when it finally opens – is a step into the unknown. The coronavirus pandemic has hit football’s finances so hard the real impact is anyone’s guess, but Manchester United boss Ed Woodward says it’s no business as usual for even one of the richest clubs in the world the market can be.
The CIES Football Observatory predicts that transfer values across the five major European leagues could plunge nearly 30% due to the coronavirus, costing around £ 7 billion ($ 8.8 billion).
The top tier of English football is already billing for around £ 400 million ($ 500 million) in rebate payments to broadcasters. In addition, the remaining games of the 2019-20 campaign will be played behind closed doors, meaning there is no chance of goal income and there is still no timeframe for fans to return to the stadiums. The expectation is that clubs may have to cut their spending in order to adapt to a new reality post COVID-19, but Jonathan Barnett, co-founder of the Stellar Group and one of the most influential agents in the world, insists on the player’s appetite for buy and sell still there.
“If a club has the finances to pay for a transfer, they will,” Barnett said in an interview with ESPN.
“The clubs have to be run properly. Every business in the world has to be run properly. Nobody is forcing anyone and saying, ‘You have to have a big transfer.’ You have to look at it broadly and you can’t compare apples and oranges. Some clubs can and some can’t. Most importantly, each club is run properly. “
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It’s possible that some of Barnett’s players will be part of this summer’s biggest deals. Aston Villa striker Jack Grealish is among those wanted by Manchester United while Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell is on Chelsea’s most wanted list. With a quarter of the season left to play after Wednesday’s two games, Barnett and his team have yet to start talking to the clubs about how to strengthen their squads ahead of the new season. With pressure remaining to win, he expects money to be spent and eventually return to levels normalized in the three years since Neymar’s record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.
“The clubs have suffered losses and it will be some time to be back because they have to make them up,” said Barnett. “But when the crowd comes back, the money comes back into play, things will go on as normal. Slowly things are coming back, but it will take a while. There is no doubt about that.
“We took a slightly different view because we weren’t really trying to talk to clubs about football. With this virus and unfortunately so many sick and dying people, it was not the right time to start talking.” about transfers and the like.
“We haven’t really looked into that. When we come out and the clubs start playing again, we can start talking.”
Jonathan Barnett anticipates that when the transfer window is opened, the output will return to its previous level. Adam Fradgley – AMA / West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images
The money that soccer and soccer players have generated was scrutinized during the pandemic. UK government ministers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, urged Premier League players to “play their part” and make pay cuts to support what he called a “national effort” to fight the virus. However, those in the game – including Barnett – were less impressed with being singled out. One of his clients, Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale, donated nearly £ 1 million to fight COVID-19 in Spain and Wales, but not because of outside pressure.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford helped raise more than £ 20m for charity FareShare and then took over the government, which forced an about-face in his decision to end a food voucher program for children at risk during the summer vacation.
“I think some of the statements some ministers made early on were outrageous,” said Barnett. “They were made by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. As a group of people, I think footballers give more money to charity than most. They do some great things and some of those statements were outrageous.
“I have a player who gave a million pounds. Others gave a few hundred thousand pounds. They gave a lot of money to charity. The statements were not thought through. The answer that was given was ignorant.”
Aside from side swipes targeting politicians’ players, the pandemic has raised other problems for Barnett, who was once again forced to defend the role of agents in a footballer’s career.
“I think the first thing clubs try is not to pay agents,” he said. “That was the main problem. We have over 100 people, we have a big payroll and it’s not fair. You don’t mind if a club comes up to you and says, ‘We’re really sorry, you can help delay it or distribute the payment? ‘But a few clubs, not many, but a few, just ignore us or just say, “We won’t pay you.” If you have a contract, you have to keep it. You could be responsible for it that people are becoming unemployed, many people could lose their jobs because of the actions of some clubs.
“A footballer is the same as any other person, and being stuck at home has its downsides. It has some advantages – you are closer to their families and spend more time with them, but they are no different.” It is our job to make sure that we stay in touch with them, that everything they need, and spiritually and everything else, they are looked after and that is what we do.
“It has been proven that agents play a very important role for the players. It’s a fact. The clubs may not like it, FIFA might not like it, UEFA might not like it, but they don’t care about interests the player, so someone has to do it. ” In general, agents take very good care of the players. “
While the clock is ticking until the transmission window can open again, Barnett prepares again.