Top overseas footballers seeking euro pay packets

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Brexit fallout making itself felt on Premier League transfers
Leading foreign football signings are looking to get paid in euros rather than sterling in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, according to Manchester United, the wealthiest club in world football.

Speaking at the KPMG Football Benchmark event in London on Wednesday. Cliff Baty, the English Premier League side’s chief financial officer said that last summer’s Brexit vote, which led to a sharp drop in the pound against the euro, had complicated the transfers of big-name players.

“It was a bit difficult last year when we were trying to make signings and you had players questioning the value of being paid in sterling,” he said.

“A lot of European players will want to be paid in euros, understandably to a degree. But we are a sterling company . . . [and] managing that is quite tricky.”

The biggest clubs are hedged against currency movements, earning euros from playing in European competition and dollars from international sponsorship deals. Even so, Mr Baty said his club does not have enough euros in hand to accede to the request, insisting players be paid in pounds instead.

Last summer, after the referendum, Manchester United acquired Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Sweden striker, at a time when his sterling-denominated pay packet — reported to be £220,000 a week — was worth roughly 10 per cent less against the dollar.
A person familiar with the deal said Mr Ibrahimovic did not balk at the deal, but Mr Baty said other players had questioned the sterling-only policy.

“It is a natural request [from players] in understanding how much you will get paid,” he said. “We’re not going to lose signings over it. It just makes the finances more complicated.”

Last summer, the club also signed French midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus for a world-record fee of up to €110m.

Mr Baty also expressed concern that English clubs could lose a “competitive advantage” following Britain’s exit from the EU.

One issue is over recruiting younger players. EU rules currently allow 16 to 18-year-olds from Europe to join youth academies in Britain. Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas, for example, joined Arsenal in 2003 aged 16 from Barcelona.

“It was a practical operational issue around bringing in players, and losing competitive advantage against Real Madrid and Barcelona,” he said. “You could get 16-year-olds going to them, if we have to wait until they are 18 [to sign youth players].”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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