Player Co-ownerships and how they work in Italian Football.

There has been for long a sense of bewilderment among people from outside the Calcio circles about the co-ownership of players, very prevalent in Italy’s Serie-A, actually work. The recent blooper by Bologna’s Director General Stefano Pedrelli during the blind auction to settle the co-ownership of Italian NT’s no.2 goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano has served to bring back a bit of limelight on the confusing rules regarding co-ownerships in Italy.

To start off, to explore the reasons why two clubs would wish to co-own a player, some of them can be substantiated as follows:

  • Some of the bigger clubs want to give their starlets some playing time at  relatively smaller clubs, but the small clubs do not want a loan deal, they want a part of the appreciation which will come if the player succeeds at their club.
  • A club cannot afford a player’s complete transfer fee, but the other club wants to offload the player anyway to manage their balance sheet.
  • A club likes a young player but sees it as a risk to fully own the player, in such a scenario they’d rather co-own the player, let him stay and continue his progress and later agree to fully own the player should he fit the bill.
  • Two clubs want to share the risk of a new investment.

SO, HOW DOES IT WORK?

A team can opt to bid for the co-ownership of any player in the league and the bid must be accepted by the other team(who currently own the player), just as any normal transfer bid would have to be accepted, for the co-ownership to go through. In other words, the buying team ‘lease’ half the transfer rights of the player concerned for a specified number of years, usually one or two years.

As per the co-ownership agreement between the clubs, the player can either stay at his current club or move to the new club who have newly co-owned him for this specific duration of time. After this specified time duration has passed both the clubs have an option of:

    • Coming to a mutual agreement regarding the future of the player, as in, which club would the player play for in the following seasons and one of the clubs assumes full ownership of the player by paying an agreed fee to the other club.
    • If an agreement can not be reached then a blind auction takes place where in both clubs file ‘secret’ bids to the Italian Football Association. The player then goes to whoever bid the highest. However, if both bids are equal, the player stays at his current club permanently.
  • Another scenario is that a club can delay deciding the ownership of the player for another year. This happens usually for co-ownerships of 2 years duration and clubs may delay taking a decision at the end of the first year. A co-ownership decision shall be delayed for a year if any one of the two clubs involved invoke it.

At any time during the duration of the co-ownership deal for a player, a club can gain full ownership of the player if they get a bid accepted from the the other club for the remaining half of the player’s transfer rights.

Furthermore, for any other third party club(not involved in the co-ownership deal for the player), to sign a co-owned player, they must have seperate bids accepted by both clubs and agree personal terms with the player for the player transfer to go through.

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