Football consortiums: Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, players as bait

In South America, it is quite common for football players to be owned not just by their club but companies as well, in percentages similar to a private equity company. This is the case with Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, who are owned by Media Sports Investment (MSI), the company that brought them over to West Ham. This is a trend that will be increasingly seen in football. In a few years, clubs and coaches will have to cede ground to these consortiums in determining the future of these players and the composition of the teams. The devolution of power from country to club to sports agents and now to consortiums owning players in determining a players fate has been a rapid one. Every level cedes just more control to the other. The Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano transfer has brought this level to British shores, in an unambiguous way.
Individuals under UEFA rules can only own one club but by forming a consortium, you can circumvent those rules. Even better you can buy stakes in players across many clubs. This allows clubs that could never afford expensive players to bring them over because they will never have to pay outright the whole transfer fee. An MSI type corporation sees a vulnerable club, creates instant credibility by offering stakes in its represented players, in return of partial control of the club. A nice little monopoly is set in motion, and a perfectly legal one at that.
MSI’s is now negotiating the buyout of West Ham, and the renting of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham, is looked on as bait in buying out the club. Using the term ‘bait’ might sound strong but essentially that is what the Tevez and Mascherano deal is. The Hammers are making a push to the top echelons with this move after years of indifferent performances.
However, this trend also complicates the traditional sources of tension in a players future, that of club and country, especially as seen in football injuries. Just as an example; the recent flare up between Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven Goran Erickson this summer, in the case of Wayne Rooney’s participation in the World Cup due to his ankle injury, will mean an additional level of complexity, if Rooney was partly owned by a consortium like MSI or Tim Cahill of Everton, whose coach, David Moyes got into a nasty spat with the Socceroos over his fitness.
Michael Owen’s injury was shrugged off essentially by a very disappointed Glenn Roeder, who sees another difficult year ahead for Newcastle without their marquee player. What if Kia Joorabchian had owned part of Michael Owen, did not accept his injury with Roeder’s equanimity, and decided that representing England was not in Owen’s best interest. Since the top 5 clubs are financially strong, represent most of the English squad and do not have an MSI like control over their players, this may not be such a problem now.

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