Football: Summer Transfer Window and Image Rights

By Athena Constantinou, managing director, AP Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

We are in the midst of the 2019 Summer Transfer Window, which, in the case of transfers of players from and to English Clubs, will end on 8 August 2019 at 17 00 BST.

As usual, many deals will be done at the last minute and, in the hurly burly, of completing such transfers, arrangements for players’ image rights may be overlooked and left to be negotiated and concluded after the transfer has been agreed and formalised.

Such post transfer image rights deals should be avoided, if at all possible, as mistakes relating to the valuation and tax structuring of them can often arise, with serious financial consequences for players and clubs alike.

Players’ agents (intermediaries) should be particularly mindful of these situations and need to work with specialist advisers to take care of their players’ image rights as part of the overall deal to avoid them.

We, at APC Sports Consulting, are fully aware of these risks and can provide expert advice and assistance at short notice and under the corresponding time pressures, not only on the expert and independent valuation of them, but also on the structuring of them through off-shore image rights corporate entities established and managed in appropriate and respectable low or no tax jurisdictions.

If it is not possible to include image rights arrangements at the time the transfers are concluded and formalised, appropriate provisions need to be reserved and included in the transfer agreements, with short time limits for finalising these arrangements. With goodwill on all sides, such arrangements can be agreed and formalised in the corresponding image rights contracts, which should, of course, be separate from the playing contracts. For other requirements, see the author’s GSLTR website post of 1 July 2019.

This will avoid payments, which, according to the status of the player, can be quite substantial, for the image rights being characterised by the Tax Authorities as employment income of the player and taxed accordingly.

Image rights should not be overlooked and always made part and parcel of player transfer deals – ideally at the time that they are agreed, or, if not, as soon as possible afterwards!

You have been warned of the financial consequences if you fail to do so!

Athena Constantinou may be contacted by e-mail at ‘athena@apc-sport.com’