Manuel Veth –
Dinamo Moscow has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Portuguese company Gestão de Carreiras de Profissionais Desportivos, S.A. (better known as GestiFute), and Polaris Sports Limited.
Both GestiFute, and Polaris Sports Limited are owned by the Portuguese player agent Jorge Mendes, who counts some of the most prominent players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), James Rodrigues (Real Madrid), Ángel di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Diego Costa (Chelsea FC), and William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), as well as the prominent coach José Mourinho (currently without a club), among his clients.
The deal between GestiFute and Dinamo Moscow was announced on Monday April 11 on the club’s official homepage. The director of GestiFute, Luís Correia, told championat.com that the two companies intend to cooperate with Dinamo at all levels including marketing: “We have a longstanding relationship with Dinamo. From the very first visit to Russia, we knew that they want to create a really big club, a high level club. We are impressed by Dinamo’s history, and are very excited to be a part of it in the future.”
Dinamo, meanwhile, hopes to benefit from Mendes’ worldwide football network. “We know all the major players in the industry, and we want to cooperate with Dinamo, so that together the club can reach a new level,” Correia stated. He also pointed out that this cooperation will include placing at Dinamo Moscow talented players “who can strengthen the squad of the Muscovites.”
Jorge Mendes and Dinamo Moscow – Round 2
GestiFute, in turn, hopes to benefit from both growing its profile in Russia and also increasing its player portfolio: “We are going to cooperate with the club on all levels including with young players from the academia, but also through marketing.” Correia also pointed out that they have similar cooperation agreements with a number of other clubs in Europe, but that in Russia “Dinamo are the first club we have established a link with.” Correia stated that the 2018 World Cup has been a prime motivator for GestiFute to expand into Russia.
As Russian Football News has pointed out, Jorge Mendes is no stranger at Dinamo Moscow, as he was instrumental in bringing several high profile players to the Russian capital in 2005—including Paris Saint-Germain current defender Tiago Motta. Back in the early 2000s Dinamo, with the help of the Russian oligarch Alexei Fedorychev, looked like a club that was poised to become a new European top club.
Fedorychev, however, sold the club in 2007, and Dinamo has since undergone numerous ownership changes—and are currently officially owned by the Dinamo Moscow Sports Society, which owned and operated the club during the time of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, many of the players brought in were part of Third Party Ownership (TPO) constructs, as Dinamo was seen as a vehicle where players could be parked and from where they could be transferred to other European teams.
This was the case, for example, with the Portuguese player Maniche, who was sold by Porto to Dinamo in May 2005 for €16 million, but moved on to Chelsea in January 2006 in a loan deal, and then finally was sold six months later to Atlético Madrid for €13 million. The British Guardian later identified this particular deal as one of several transfers that were part of Mendes’ TPO constructs. In a similar deal, the Porto midfielder Costinha was sold from Porto to Dinamo in July 2005 for €4 million, but one year later was sold to Atlético Madrid for €6 million.
In fact, Mendes exported most of Porto’s squad that won the 2004 UEFA Champions League title, and is understood to have been involved in 70% of the transfers conducted by Porto in the period between 2001 and 2010, earning €238.4 million in the process.
GestiFute and Third-Party Ownership
At the time, Dinamo Moscow was often understood as a club where Mendes could park promising players before moving them to one of his other partner clubs. In the process of course Mendes made good money, as agents receive a cut of at least 10% on any player transfer.
Furthermore, Mendes has openly admitted that he, and GestiFute, have been involved in Third-Party Ownership deals, and furthermore believes that FIFA’s ban on TPO contracts, which came into affect in May 2015, is illegal. Speaking to the news agency Reuters on January 30, 2015 Mendes stated that banning the practice is “ illegal, completely illegal, illegal, illegal, both things illegal.”
Mendes believed that FIFA’s ruling would kill clubs from smaller European leagues: “Benfica and Porto don’t get more than 18 million (Euros) ($20.4 million) per year from TV. In England, you are getting, as a small club, 80 million or 90 million. They don’t have the right to improve or to find a way to improve? You are killing the competition, killing it. Those clubs Benfica and Porto were playing in the Champions League, doing very well, performing very well but they will not achieve the same level, completely impossible.”
Mendes’ might have a point about FIFA’s ruling being illegal, as the world football governing body is a rule maker, and not a lawmaker. Hence, FIFA’s TPO ruling has already been challenged in EU courts, and the outcome could see drastic changes to the transfer system as a whole.
Dinamo Moscow – An Investment or a Third-Party Ownership Mechanism?
Until there is-a clear cut ruling on TPO, however, the most powerful player agents have found ways to circumnavigate FIFA’s TPO ruling by directly buying or investing into clubs. As the recent example of the Serbian player Andrija Živković highlights, clubs can then buy the economic rights in the name of the agent and loan the player back to the team. In the case of Živković 50% of the player’s economic rights were sold to Apollon Limassol—a club owned by the Israeli player agent Pini Zahavi—but Živković remained with his parent club Partizan Belgrade under controversial circumstances.
Meanwhile Dinamo Moscow have had severe financial problems and, before the season, were banned by UEFA from participating in international competitions for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations. As a result, Dinamo lost several key players during the last two transfer windows, and are currently fighting against relegation from the Russian Football Premier League.
In light of this, Dinamo are keen to find financial investors that can not only help the club to meet UEFA’s stringent FFP obligations, but can also help Dinamo identify players that can be bought and sold at a profit.
Hence, Dinamo’s General Director Sergei Sysoev was pleased about the deal. Speaking on Dinamo’s official homepage Sysoev explained: “In the past Dinamo has had a great experience working with Jorge Mendes’ companies. There were periods when we did, and didn’t cooperate, but now we have come to the conclusion that we need a partner in Europe, who can help us to grow the club.”
Sysoev believes that this deal is not just about signing new players, but also to identify players who want to grow at Dinamo in order to reach the potential to play at a big European club. “This is an important area for the players and for us because Dinamo now exists in a new economic environment where clubs have to deal with the requirements of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. We therefore want to focus on developing young players. But also want to invite young promising football players from abroad.”
Sysoev believes that the cooperation deal with GestiFute can help Dinamo to identify future young stars as Mendes’ “company not only has agreements with big stars, but also talented but unknown players. Secondly, we are talking about long-term cooperation, and not just about the upcoming transfer window. We have a development strategy, next year we will return to the renovated stadium at Petrovsky Park, and we expect a rise of interest of football in the country as we approach the 2018 World Cup.” Sysoev believes that, with Mendes’ investment and his player network, Dinamo could not only meet UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, but could also soon challenge for the top of the Russian Football Premier League table.
Dmitri Seluk – Mendes Has Cheated Dinamo Before
The deal has, however, been criticized in Russia. The player agent Dmitri Seluk, for example, who is no stranger to murky transfer investment deals himself, has criticised the deal between Dinamo and GestiFute.
Speaking to Sport-Express Seluk declared this deal “a complete idiocy!” Seluk believes that the last time Dinamo cooperated with Mendes, the club was cheated out of €89 million. Furthermore, Seluk pointed at Valencia CF, and AS Monaco FC—both clubs have cooperation agreements with GestiFute—as examples of where GestiFute’s business model has hurt clubs on the field. “You will see neither club will play in the Champions League! Dinamo will not perform well with him either!!” Asked whether there will once again be an influx of Portuguese players at Dinamo, Seluk responded “Definitely! Portuguese, and Brazilians.”
Despite being a controversial agent himself, Seluk might have a point, as GestiFute will most certainly view Dinamo as a club that can be used to develop players, rather than as a potential title winning machine. Furthermore, Mendes’ track record of TPO deals, and the fact that clubs can be used to park player contracts, without the player actually playing there, means that Dinamo might see very few talented players moving to the club. At the same time Dinamo’s poor financial position forces the club into this deal, which could very well turn out to be a deal with the devil.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and PhD candidate at King’s College London. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. His thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, and will be available to readers later this year. Follow Manuel on Twitter @homosovieticus.