Hero Global Football Fund

17Dec08

A Hero Global Football Fund has been formed to ‘invest’ in the potential footballing stars of the future. The fund intends to own players economic rights, in the same way that Media Sports Investments owned Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano when they moved to West Ham. There is still a heated legal battle being ensuing between Sheffield United and West Ham.

The fund already has 27 million pounds ready to invest courtesy of Emirates NBD, the national bank of Dubai. Wealthy individuals are being invited to invest tens of thousands each into the fund, which is registered in the tax haven of Jersey, and the Hero Fund aims to return at least a 10% profit to them.

The launch announcement states that players will be recruited from around the world, especially from Africa, South America and the Far East. The statement explained “The fund makes a profit by selling players’ registrations and other economic benefits, such as image rights, to professional clubs.”

The funds are intended to be used to pour money into smaller clubs who may be in financial difficulties, enabling them to buy or hold on to young players for longer. Investors will make their profit from a percentage of the players’ transfer fees when they are transferred.

Apparently, the fund will stay on the right side of football’s laws because they will not have a ‘material influence’ over any club where they have a financial interest in a player. In the Tevez case, West Ham pleaded guilty before a Premier League disciplinary tribunal of breaching the rule which prohibits ‘third parties’ from influencing team affairs. That was due to the fact that Tevez’s third party ‘owners’ could insist the striker be sold if an offer came in to buy him at a stipulated price.

The fact that Tevez and Mascherano’s economic rights were not initially owned by their club, Corinthians, but by Media Sports Investments resulted in a sense of unease in the British game. This is because the transfer system is regarded as a valuable means of distributing money to smaller clubs that develop players. When Liverpool bought Mascherano for nearly 18 million pounds the money went to to Media Sports Investments, not Corinthians or West Ham.

The practice of businessmen owning a players economic rights is widely accepted in other parts of the world, particularly in South America. Critics argue that the system of player ownership undermines smaller clubs, who receive a small amount of money up front but do not get the full reward if a player they develop moves to a big club. Players from Brazil and other South American countries light up wealthy leagues across Europe, yet at home their clubs are mostly impoverished or in near-collapse.

The Hero fund will pay money directly to clubs here and in Europe, to enable them to buy or retain young players and pay their way in a difficult economic climate. In return the fund will be entitled to a share of the transfer fee when the player is sold. The fund will not stipulate that a club must sell a player if a profitable offer comes in, will not charge interest, and will make a loss on players who do not secure lucrative moves.

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