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The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

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Asser International Sports Law Blog | Unpacking Doyen’s TPO deals - Introduction

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Unpacking Doyen’s TPO deals - Introduction

The football world has been buzzing with Doyen’s name for a few years now. Yet, in practice very little is known about the way Doyen Sports (the Doyen entity involved in the football business) operates. The content of the contracts it signs with clubs was speculative, as they are subjected to strict confidentiality policies. Nonetheless, Doyen became a political (and public) scapegoat and is widely perceived as exemplifying the ‘TPOisation’ of football. This mythical status of Doyen is also entertained by the firm itself, which has multiplied the (until now failed) legal actions against FIFA’s TPO ban (on the ban see our blog symposium here) in a bid to attract attention and to publicly defend its business model. In short, it has become the mysterious flag bearer of TPO around the world. Thanks to a new anonymous group, inspired by the WikiLeaks model, we can now better assess how Doyen Sports truly functions. Since 5 November someone has been publishing different types of documents involving more or less directly the work of Doyen in football. These documents are all freely available at http://footballleaks.livejournal.com/. By doing so, the group has given us (legal scholars not involved directly in the trade) the opportunity to finally peruse the contractual structure of a TPO deal offered by Doyen and, as we purport to show in the coming weeks, to embark upon a journey into Doyen’s TPO-world.


The footballleaks group leaked two types of documents: documents related to the internal structure of Doyen and documents related to the various deals (involving mainly Portuguese and Spanish clubs and FC Twente) signed by Doyen. Regarding Doyen Sports itself as a company, the documents provide a good overview of its functioning and shareholder structure. The company based in Malta was registered in May 2011 and is controlled by two main shareholders, Refik Arif and Malik Ali. The aims of the company, based on its Memorandum and Articles of Association (point 1.1), include:

1.    Acquisition and sale of representation rights of football players, coaches and managers and representation of football players, coaches and managers in all aspects of their football career, including associated off-field and commercial activities (including, where necessary, through licensed agents);

2.     Acquisition and sale of football players and/or the economical rights of football players;

3.     Making an offer to the player for his player registration documentation, a part thereof or some other offer to the player and/or football clubs;

4.     Transferring football players, coaches and managers between different football clubs;

5.     Representing football clubs;

6.     Having a benefit or take an active role in the day-to-day running of football clubs, subject to complying with the FIFA Regulations and other relevant national or international regulations;

7.     Granting loans to football clubs; and

8.     Carry out such activities as may be ancillary to the above or as may be necessary or desirable to achieve the above objects without territorial restriction anywhere in the world. 

Thus, Doyen’s business model blends different types of activities: investment and loans to clubs (broadly speaking the TPO side of Doyen’s activities) and the representation of players/coaches (the agent side of Doyen’s activities). We will not investigate further the internal structure of Doyen or its shareholders; such enquiries are better left to investigative journalists.


We, for our part, are going to focus on the contracts signed by Doyen with two clubs: FC Twente (Twente) and Sporting Club Portugal (Sporting). This analytical and descriptive exercise will feed into an evaluation of the compatibility of FIFA’s TPO ban with EU law. While it is difficult to know who precisely is responsible for footballleaks (maybe the ideal of transparency should also apply to the group), one thing is sure: the group seems to have a keen interest in the activities of Sporting (and Portuguese clubs in general). The emergence of this website targeting in priority Doyen might be linked to the on-going dispute between Doyen and Sporting about the TPO agreement signed over the transfer of the player Marcos Rojo. The dispute has been heard in September by the CAS, which will render its award on the matter in the coming month(s). In any case, the documents released until now by footballleaks enable us to draw a detailed profile of the TPO deals struck by Doyen with Twente and Sporting. The deal between Doyen and Twente, and its legal ramifications, will be the subject of a first blog early next week. We will map the network of obligations to which Twente accepted to be subjected in return for Doyen’s capital injection in the club. The case stirred a public controversy in the Netherlands and already led to the departure of Twente’s President. The second blog will focus on Sporting and more precisely on the “Rojo” TPO-deal with Doyen and its legal implications. Based on these empirical studies of the structure and implementation of the TPO agreements struck by Doyen, we will revisit the crucial pending question of the compatibility of FIFA’s TPO ban with EU competition law.

 

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