Brexit has complicated foreign transfers – Manchester United

Big-name foreign football signings in Britain looking to get paid in euro since vote

Sterling service: Manchester United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photograph: AFP

Sterling service: Manchester United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photograph: AFP

 

Leading foreign football signings in Britain are looking to get paid in euro 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 sterling 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 euro, 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 euro from playing in European competition and dollars from international sponsorship deals. Even so, Mr Baty said his club does not have enough euro in hand to accede to the request, insisting players be paid in sterling instead.

Sterling for Zlatan

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 (€251,809) a week – was worth roughly 10 per cent less against the dollar. 

A person familiar with the deal said Mr Ibrahimovic did not baulk 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 €110 million.

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].”

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