Roman Abramovich found to have held secret stakes in rival players / How third-party & shared ownership worked

Roman Abramovich

Investigatory findings

BBC Panorama has reported on leaked FinCEN files, containing evidence which confirms that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is behind an offshore company known as Leiston Holdings.

The company had been involved in the purchase of third-party ownership of players. This is a practice whereby a percentage share in a player is secured, so that, when that player is purchased, the third-party are effectively bought out by the club in question, earning a percentage fee.

In 2015, FIFA banned such practices.

However, prior to this ruling, it was discovered that then-Sporting CP star Andre Carillo, partially owned by Leiston Holdings, turned out against Abramovich’s Chelsea.

Effectively, although on the opposite team, Carillo was therefore partially owned by the owner of the side whom he was lining out against.

This brought up a host of issues regarding a “conflict of interest”, and proved key in FIFA’s eventual ruling to ban the practice.

Despite the aforementioned information, though, Abramovich’s spokeswoman has assured that the Russian committed no lawful wrongdoing, and that the actions “relate to the period before Fifa changed their rules”.

Shared and Third Party

The ownership of a player is typically straightforward. One club either develops a player in their youth setup before they progress to the first-team, or purchases a player from another club for an agreed fee.

However, it was previously not so simple. A third-party could partially own a player. Or, two clubs hold shared ownership. This was the case up until the abolishment of such practices in 2015.

Shared ownership works differently to third-party situations. Italian football once played host to the majority of such deals. One club owned 50% of a player, whilst the other 50% was owned by another.

For example, in 2012, Genoa purchased half of Ciro Immobile’s contractual ownership from Juventus for €4 million. Immobile played one season for the Grifone, before Juve bought out their 50%, and immediately sold it to Torino.

Roman Abramovich found to have held secret stakes in rival players / How third-party & shared ownership worked

Lazio’s Italian forward Ciro Immobile celebrates after scoring during the Serie A football match Lazio vs Brescia at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on July 29, 2020. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Problems therefore began to arise when a club wanted to purchase a player outright. Borussia Dortmund had the difficulty of negotiating with both Juventus and Torino for Immobile’s signature. Both clubs valued the then-24-year-old differently, making dealings tricky. Thankfully, such situations no longer occur, we hope…

The transfer window is a complicated period. It was once, though, even worse.

See also: Mbappe to return for PSG / Bans confuse Tuchel

Arsenal’s Aouar need: What the Frenchman brings and why Arteta is so keen


This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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