The other day we told you about Football Leaks publishing the details of Anthony Martial’s transfer to Manchester United. The anonymous group didn’t wait long to announce their next reveal— and it’s a doozy.
Yesterday the blog dropped documents surrounding Gareth Bale’s blockbuster move from Tottenham to Real Madrid.
Probably the biggest revelation is that Real Madrid ended up paying more than they publicly announced. Los Blancos long insisted that they paid €91 million, when it fact the documents show the fee worked out to €100,759,418. The discrepancy itself isn’t a huge— for a club like Real Madrid, anyway— but there were concerns over further locker room discord. The reported fee was less than what the club paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, while the actual number is more. Who cares about the amount? Cristiano Ronaldo, as it turns out.
Real Madrid was apparently so concerned about low-balling the transfer fee, and keeping CR7 happy, that the transfer documents specified that the club would announce a lower fee and that, by signing on to the deal, Tottenham would agree not to disclose financial details to the press.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett was less than pleased when he spoke to The Telegraph about the leak.
“There should be an inquiry and an independent investigation because it’s outrageous. There also needs to be an apology from the Football Association to the clubs and the player. I think it’s disgraceful that people can get hold of this sort of stuff. It shows complete disregard for both clubs and the player.”
Interestingly, some prominent football figures disagree with Barnett’s assessment. Mark Goddard, the head of FIFA’s Transfer Matching System, says he reads Football Leaks and believes that the transfer market could do with more transparency.
“It would be really good if we could have a verifiable transparent, credible source as opposed to just back pages … and soccer leaks websites. In the end the market finds out this information but they do it in a very unofficial, unstructured way and that really allows a lot of the opacity and the wheeling and dealing to be done. And that’s a real shame.”
What’s remarkable about all this is how quickly the group behind Football Leaks managed to become such big players in football’s financial and political landscape. With the blog taking down increasingly bigger game, world football will soon have no choice but to marshal a collective and comprehensive response, either by implementing systems designed to provide more transparency and accountability or by moving to have the Football Leaks group identified and shut down. A cynic would assume clubs will favor the latter approach. Either way, clubs and associations can no longer pretend that Football Leaks isn’t a problem for them.