Summer is a time for vacations in many industries but in the world of football, the business of transfers becomes a top priority. For club directors in Spanish football, the summer of 2019 has been especially busy as some of the world’s best players have moved to LaLiga clubs. Importantly, every one of these acquisitions has been based on sound finances. In fact, reckless spending is made impossible by the competition’s financial controls.
One of LaLiga’s key initiatives since Javier Tebas assumed the league’s presidency in 2013 has been the implementation of financial control. A set of rules were established, after being unanimously approved by the member clubs, to assign a ‘squad cost limit’ for all teams based on both confirmed and projected data.
Each club’s squad cost limit is different and is derived from that team’s revenue, operating expenses and debt. It is calculated at the start of each season based on estimated and projected data shared with LaLiga by the clubs before being approved by both parties. After being agreed, clubs have no restrictions over how the money can be spent except one: the budget cannot be exceeded.
A unique model in world football
LaLiga is the only league in the world to have this kind of financial control for its clubs and the key difference with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play mechanisms is that the control is done proactively, before spending begins. “UEFA’s method is done after the fact and it doesn’t prevent clubs from failing to comply with their obligations,” LaLiga’s Director General Javier Gómez said. “It works for conducting an autopsy, but it doesn’t make clubs comply with their obligations.”
To control this process and to make the completion of transfers even easier for the 42 clubs of the two professional divisions in Spain, LaLiga has designed the LaLiga Manager app.
“We have been using this app since 2016/17 and we have had zero errors” said Raúl Ojeda, the Head of LaLiga’s department of competitions. Even with as many as 219 procedures taking place on one day, as was the case on the final day of the 2018/19 winter window, LaLiga Manager works seamlessly.
“Now clubs have more independence as the whole process is digitalised,” stated Martín Martínez, the head of the department of corporate apps, websites and platforms, where this tool was developed. “It has automated all of the processes that had to be done manually, such as sending letters and faxes.”
Completing transfers in minutes
For clubs, the LaLiga Manager app is easy and intuitive to use. They can remove or add a player from or to their squad and even assign shirt numbers through the platform. The app asks for the appropriate figures and documentation to be uploaded and attached when a submission is being made and this is all verified at LaLiga’s end by the department for financial control and by the department of competitions. This process can be done in a matter of minutes, which is very important for clubs as transfer deadlines approach.
If everything is above board then the player’s registration with their new club is confirmed. While clubs are free to agree whatever wage or transfer package they like, the application does not allow squad cost limits to be exceeded, so all new acquisitions must be shown to be affordable for the club in question for them to be completed.
Incorporating digital communications
The application is also linked to LaLiga’s department of digital strategy which receives an alert once a new player is registered, allowing the league’s social media team to work with the clubs on communications that will maximise the online impact of the new arrivals.
Different social strategies are then carried out depending on the individual player. If a player is signed from China, for example, then the team will emphasise communications on platforms such as Sina Weibo or WeChat. Or if a Brazilian footballer comes to LaLiga, the team knows that Instagram is especially popular in the South American country and will plan for a more extensive campaign on that platform.
Financial health leading to growth
Over the busy twice-annual transfer season, having an app like LaLiga Manager streamlines the process for both the clubs and the competition. Deals for world-class players can be completed via a single platform, including all documentation, meaning the days of relying on phone calls, emails or faxes are long gone in Spain.
With close financial controls a central part of the platform, there is also the added security that clubs will remain in financial health which creates growth. Having followed financial controls for over three years, clubs are generating more wealth which is being invested into projects that will protect their future, such as new sports cities, developing academies or increasing internationalisation efforts.
LaLiga has received proposals from abroad to implement the technology of this app in other leagues but for now it remains in use solely in Spain, giving Spanish clubs a clear advantage as they navigate the 2019 summer transfer window.