As Jadon Sancho’s ˆ85 million transfer to Manchester United has shown, there’s always a demand for world-class talent, even in this financially ravaged climate.
Kevin De Bruyne and Joshua Kimmich have further demonstrated that star performers can, to a degree, operate outside the usual market mechanics. Both have decided to renegotiate their contracts at Manchester City and Bayern Munich by themselves respectively, without the help of agents.
Many clubs are trying to reduce their wage bill to offset their losses. With supply outstripping demand, many footballers are in a weak position, forced to rely on their agents to find them gainful employment.
“Some agents might have a rather small network of clubs they work with in specific countries, which further limits a player’s options. We want to provide options to these players, especially abroad.”
Adler, 36, wants to emphasise that there are plenty of capable and trustworthy advisors working in the industry, “but the total lack of transparency within the transfer market puts players of a certain level at a huge disadvantage. We wanted them to be able to seize the initiative and be in control of their careers”.
Footballers set up their own anonymous profiles, including their contract status, and register their wishes as to specific leagues, style of play and wages, and clubs do the same, using a filter to find players who fit their needs.
Since all profiles are verified, evaluated in terms of their key performance indicators and weighted according to the level of their current league and club by the app, players need to be professionals with first-team contracts to sign up to it.
In England, for example, the app accommodates pros from the Premier League to League Two, while in Germany, coverage also extends from the Bundesliga to the fourth tier, which is called the Regionalliga.
Once the algorithm throws up a significant match, both parties can press a “shoot” button, at which point they are revealed to each other and can begin negotiations.
If this digital matchmaking leads to the player moving, the buying club will pay commission fees that are in line with FIFA recommendations (three per cent of a player’s wages) to 11TransFAIR. For players, it’s free of charge.
His idea was to set up an app called 11TransFAIR with a group of business partners and lawyers – “a Tinder for football transfers”, as he puts it
Since the app’s launch two weeks ago, a few hundred players have posted profiles and about 50 clubs from 10 countries have actively been using it for scouting the ong them, most of the German professional clubs as well as a few big British ones, including Leeds United.
“11TransFAIR has a very interesting approach,” Victor Orta, Leeds’s director of football tells The Athletic. “We’re always open to new and innovative ideas. It will be interesting to see how the platform develops over the next months and years.”
Players can seek out new prospective partners in strict confidence as the app is programmed in a way that renders profiles invisible to their current club. They can also blacklist teams they don’t want to be matched with, who will not see their profiles pop up.
A strong emphasis on data protection – Germany has some of the most stringent laws in the world in that regard – extends to Adler and his team not being able to see any of the players’s transfer wishes, nor the search profiles entered by any clubs.
“We’re not looking to circumvent agents or to get rid of them altogether,” he says. “On the contrary: many players put their agents’ contacts into their profile but 11TransFAIR gives players a better idea what’s out there and can open new doors for them.
“It also helps clubs. They sometimes like hoe gebruik je airg a player who has a half a dozen people claiming that they’re authorised to represent them, which makes things very complicated. By having their profile on the app, players can denote who clubs should talk to in case they’re interested. It really speeds up things.”
No deals have been done yet but some of the matches already generated look promising. Once the app is established as a transfer platform, future cases might include the brokering of transfer fees, too – “Swipe right to meet the striker of your dreams for a ?40 million fee.”