Third Party Ownership in Football - What it is, how it is developing, and what it should be 

Third Party Ownership in Football - What it is, how it is developing, and what it should be 
In September 2019, Nick De Marco QC[1] and Daniel Geey[2] were invited to give a speech to the FIFA / Spanish FA 8th International Football Law Congress in Madrid about Third Party Ownership in Football, covering recent developments and future issues. This article is based on Nick’s contribution to the Congress.
[1] Nick De Marco QC is a leading sports lawyer from Blackstone Chambers in London. He is widely acknowledged as the “foremost expert on football regulatory matters” in the UK. He has been involved in all the leading football TPO cases in England. He is the Author and Editor of ‘Football and the Law’ (Bloomsbury, 2018) and co-wrote the chapter on Third Party Investment in the book.
[2] Daniel Geey is a Partner in the Sports Group at Sheridans solicitors. A short article he co-wrote, “Third Party Investment Update: Players Can own their Transfer Rights” is available on his blog:


Defining TPO?

The issue of Third Party Ownership in football remains a live one, despite FIFA’s outright prohibition in 2015. Any analysis of the current landscape needs to start with an understanding of what is meant by Third Party Ownership, or TPO for short. A short, precise, definition is that it describes:

“A financial interest in the future transfer of a player’s registration.”

It reflects the practice, previously widespread in large parts of world football, whereby an investor, the third party, would invest in a player, a club or an academy, usually by way of a loan, in return for a right to a percentage of the future transfer fee or fees that the player who is the subject of the investment attracts. It is special to football because football is one of the only global sports...

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