We worked late into the night but managed to get the contract in the shape the player needed, and it was signed first thing in the morning, Chinese time. Our man on the ground made sure the player signed the approved version.
Things started well but went downhill for the player who was out of favour. Fortunately, the contract we had secured for him was strong enough that the club could not dismiss him, and he was in a great position to negotiate his exit.
Joining the Premier League
It’s the dream of many players to join the Premier League, and the skill of good agents to negotiate that pathway. In our experience, the better the agent the more likely they are to seek legal input from local advisors. It shows a high level of care and professionalism.
When a star of European football was potentially joining an English Premier League club we were called to assist with the negotiations. The agent was very experienced, but this was a particularly important deal and he wanted to make sure he protected the player and secured the best possible deal.
Because we were so heavily involved over a period of time, we were able to make a number of valuable suggestions which impacted the player’s contract, his image rights deal, and also the player’s ability to leave and join a bigger club.
The bigger picture
Immigration – it is one of the first things that clubs think about when they are signing a player from abroad. Will they qualify for a ‘work permit’?
However, beyond that entry criteria aspect, immigration is rarely considered by clubs or agents. In reality, it can be such an important issue in the life of a player and their family.
We had a client from Africa who was playing in the Premier League. His long term aim after retiring from football was to live in England with his wife and kids, but no one had ever advised him on how he could earn the right to stay and work in the UK in future.
This came to our attention when the player was thinking of leaving the Premier League club to move abroad. The player had been in the UK for four and a half years, meaning he was only six months short of the five years needed to qualify for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (being the right to settle in the UK). If the player left at this stage, the qualifying time would be reset to nought. Given his age, he would not have another opportunity to accrue the necessary time in the UK.
Instead of the player immediately transferring aboard, we arranged for the player to go on loan for the first six months with a permanent transfer following thereafter. This meant the player had a good legal argument that he had completed the five years in the UK because his employer remained here when he was on loan.
It was a solution that met everyone’s needs. The selling club moved on a player they no longer needed; the buying club signed an important player for their team; and, the player got the move he wanted, when he wanted, and with his long-term immigration needs looked after.