Football fans treat the transfer window a little bit like Black Friday – it’s a chance to drool over the shiny new players that will take their team to the top of the league. Spare a thought for the players and their families though. For them, football transfers mean long periods of doubt and uncertainty about where they will be living next week.
In the two football transfer windows of the English Premier League and the Championship, a total of 667 players were either sold or loaned, and 249 of these had to relocate either to or from the UK from overseas: Australia, Germany, Italy, China, the USA… the list of international football club transfers is a long one. Look worldwide and the figure grows much larger – of the estimated 56,000 male professional footballers across the globe, 12,051 are expats, according to the Football Observatory.
To make sure the player can focus on their new job, the clubs, the agents and sometimes the players themselves will put in place a football relocation package. So, what is involved in a football transfer from a player’s perspective, and how long does it all take?
The first thing is to establish that the player has a right to work in their host country and obtaining visas and work permits is no easy matter. Specialist knowledge is often required – it may be easy for a superstar like Neymar to move from club to club, but players with a lower international profile can struggle to get the necessary paperwork. The rules vary from country to country, but usually require a team to demonstrate that similar local talent is not available.
Even when a player has arrived at a club in one league, it doesn’t always mean he can transfer to another team. Sandro, the Brazilian midfielder, moved to Queen’s Park Rangers from Tottenham Hotspur after four years in the UK, but still ran into some difficulties.
Finding a new home
Once the ink is drying on the contract, the medical is complete and the registration papers have arrived at the local football association headquarters – and 14 seconds can be the line between success and failure – it’s time to find somewhere to live. No one wants to spend most of the season in a hotel.
Choosing a new home is never easy, but when there is time pressure and limited availability it can become a conundrum. Relocation assistance is often a minimum requirement to find the sort of home with the right levels of bling. Occasionally a player might move into a home that belonged to a former star of the club they are joining, but more often they have different tastes.
While players like buying property that may appreciate in value – a good investment for their wage packet which could dry up with a bad injury – the highest end of the market also means waiting for the right buyer. Patrick Vieira, the French midfielder, was still trying to sell his Manchester mansion in 2017, more than a year after leaving the UK for New York.
Shipping their belongings
Young men with a lot of money to spend will tend to spend it – and that means when they move, they have to find a way to ship it out. When that means watches, shirts or winner’s medals, the main issue is security and insurance.
But when it comes to cars, there are all sorts of other problems to solve, such as import duty and whether or not a carnet de passage is required. For those players with a car collection running into double figures, that’s no small undertaking.
Relocating with families
It’s often said that footballers’ wives and girlfriends know what they’re signing up for, but that doesn’t make football transfers any easier for them, particularly when young children are involved. Transfer windows are not generally well aligned with the school year – popular schools are invariably full by the time the end of the transfer window comes in September.
Clubs and relocation agents can often assist with this through the relocation assistance, offering options that players and their families might not know existed.
A football club transfer is an exciting time for a player, the club and the fans, but it doesn’t end when the whistle blows for kick off. There are an awful lot of things to consider, arrange and make happen, which is why a football relocation package is an essential expense. For advice and assistance, contact Santa Fe Relocation and find out how to make it past deadline day.