每日跟讀#652: Seeking Soccer Talent, Club Executives Turn to Speed Dating
It had all the hallmarks of an afternoon of speed dating. Strangers hoping to find that right match.
On a gloriously warm Tuesday earlier this month, a group of soccer executives, from clubs large and small from across Europe and even as far afield as Brazil and the United States, were getting to know each other at 15-minute intervals inside a banquet hall at Stamford Bridge, the West London home of Premier League giant Chelsea.
Outside, tourists visiting the stadium frolicked in the sunshine of the stands. Inside the cloistered, carpeted Centenary Lounge, executives were getting down to the serious business of negotiating player trades as the summer transfer window, an annual multibillion-dollar marketplace, reaches its climactic rush to fill rosters or find new or temporary homes for unwanted or untested talent before the window slams shut in a matter of weeks.
With tables numbered and organized in rows, executives wielding brochures and tablets showed off their inventory in short introductory meetings that ended with the sound of a bell and the appearance of two women armed with boxing-style cards announcing the start of the next round of talks.
The event, a novelty in the often opaque and secretive world of soccer player trading, is the brainchild of Jonas Ankersen, 33, of Denmark, who launched a player trading platform called Transfer Room two years ago.
The idea was to wean clubs off the largely inefficient and long-held practice of sourcing and selling players via the closely guarded networks of agents or intermediaries, some who can take a multimillion-dollar cut in the biggest deals.
“I wanted to give the clubs a chance to take back control of the transfer market,” Ankersen said as snippets of negotiations started to fill the air following a break for lunch.
To be sure, this is not the place where Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi will move from one club to another, but rather where useful, reasonably priced players change teams. The most expensive player on Ankersen’s platform is valued at around 20 million pounds, (roughly $25 million), he said.
“That’s just a little bit out of our price range,” said Mick Harford, the director of football at Luton Town, a team from just outside London that was promoted last season to the second tier Championship division. Harford spoke as he pored over a list of young players being made available for loan by Paul Konchesky, loan manager at the middling Premier League club West Ham.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/343041/web/