Third-Party Ownership (TPO) is a practice that has been banned by the FA, the Premier League and FIFA since 2016, in an effort to clamp down on predatory practices by football agents.
While some people defend the practice, it has been widely criticized across the world, although was a very common practice in places like South America.
The concept of TPO in English football first came to light in 2007, when Carlos Tevez fired West Ham United to safety despite his illegal transfer to London, and was compounded by Alejandro Faurlin’s controversial transfer to QPR two-years later.
The practice has since been outlawed, but what exactly if Third-Party Ownership in Football?
What Is Third-Party Ownership In Football?
Third-party ownership (TPO) in football refers to a situation where a football player’s economic rights are owned, in whole or in part, by a third party, which is typically not the player’s club.
This means that somebody who is not the football club own certain rights in relation to a player, so that the clubs cannot claim to own the footballer’s contract outright.
In such arrangements, investors or external entities acquire a stake in a player’s future transfer value, often in exchange for providing financial support to the player or the club. This is often used as a way for third parties to exploit younger, poorer players who do not have the knowledge on how the sport is run at a professional level.
Historically, third-party ownership was more common in countries like Portugal and Brazil, but it has faced increased scrutiny and regulation by football governing bodies.
The most famous example of this was Carlos Tevez, who was found to have been illegally playing for West Ham when his goals relegated Sheffield United in 2007 (ironically, managed by Neil Warnock at the time).
FIFA banned third-party ownership in 2015, deeming it incompatible with the principles of the game. The ban was implemented to enhance transparency, protect the integrity of competitions, and ensure that player transfers are conducted with the best interests of the sport in mind. It sought to make transfers more transparent and fairer to all involved.
The concerns associated with third-party ownership include the potential for conflicts of interest, manipulation of player transfers, and challenges in maintaining the competitive balance within leagues.
By prohibiting such arrangements, football authorities aim to maintain the integrity of the sport and ensure that decisions regarding players are made with the primary focus on football-related considerations rather than financial interests of third parties.