Promoesport is a soccer player and coach representation company founded in Barcelona 19 years ago. Over time, it has grown to have a network of 14 branches and more than 60 employees around the world. The group has closed more than 2,000 footballers’ purchase and sale transactions since its birth and has recently opened delegations in Poland, the United States or Turkey. Its founder, Rodri Baster, is critical of LaLiga’s restriction on teams to be able to borrow at a difficult time, appealing to “make Spanish football grow again in terms of level compared to other leagues.”
Question: Promoesport has entered the shareholding of different professional clubs. What is its purpose?
Answer: At a certain point we were able to buy shares in clubs such as Sevilla or Elche, never exceeding 5%. The sports law says that a shareholder cannot have more than 5% in two entities. In the bankruptcy of Elche, we prefer not to have a rebate and keep a shareholding package of the entity. On the other hand, at Sevilla we saw a market opportunity and we took advantage of it to later sell it. In our contribution to Nàstic de Tarragona we implemented a sports management model that helped to clean up the bank’s accounts and, at the same time, to grow as a club, remaining at the gates of the First Division. The main reason for entering the shareholding of the company was to take advantage of existing opportunities, refloat the company and, when its value has increased, sell it to make a profit.
Q .: How has the pandemic affected the company?
R.: Our year 2020 has been very similar to that of 2019 in turnover volumes. We will notice the Covid-19 crisis in the 2021 market. The pandemic has had several phases: the first, an uncertainty, where we thought everything would be much shorter in time. The second has been the expansion of the crisis, since, as has been the case worldwide, the company has suffered, especially in the 2021 market, because the turnover of the clubs has dropped considerably. This will have two consequences: first, a overbooking of players and, second, an increase of costs in the templates. That is, teams like Real Madrid bought players and transferred them knowing that their value when they returned would be greater and they could be placed in any market; now the market has stopped short and the salary bill of the teams is oversized.
Q .: How can the pandemic affect the transfer business?
R.: We are going to have difficulties because, from my point of view, LaLiga has taken a totally wrong policy by exhaustively controlling spending so as not to go against the crisis generated; as a result, the Spanish market has been practically immobile. When a market is inert, it means that there is no type of movement and no wealth is generated. Much of this business, apart from television rights, the merchandising and the ticketing, are economic rights. If these rights are cut suddenly because you do not allow a certain indebtedness at this time, you make the sports entities unable to invest and as a consequence, the money does not flow. The measures that the Professional Football League (LFP) has taken since 2010 in the crisis that clubs were immersed in with up to 25 creditors’ contests has been wonderful, getting to clean up Spanish football as it is today. At this juncture, I firmly believe that LaLiga has made a mistake by not making the measures more flexible to allow certain indebtedness that the entities could continue to grow.
“The market has stopped short and the wage bill of the teams is oversized”
Q .: To what extent will LaLiga’s decision to control the market affect the agents?
R.: There will be an important screening within the sector. Although the football business starts faster than other companies, we will not regain the normality with which we used to work for two or three years. In small agencies, especially, I foresee an enormous difficulty to keep going; It is very likely that, if the market continues in the same way, defaults will begin, there will be no type of movement in operations and that some of the small agencies may even dissolve due to lack of resources.
Q .: Don’t you think that LaLiga’s regulation is made to prevent another crisis from happening like the one ten years ago?
R.: From my point of view, borrowing in times of crisis serves to cope with the crisis itself. At this time, the advantage that football has over other companies is that in September more or less they know what they are going to enter in terms of ticketing, television rights or merchandising. Knowing the income that a club has in the event that it does not downgrade, at a time as complicated as that of Covid-19, a small debt should be allowed that can be comfortably repaid in four or five years to take advantage of the opportunities market and make Spanish football grow again in a matter of level compared to other leagues and markets that are currently on its heels. The Spanish soccer market is getting poorer because there are no flexibilizing measures that allow, at this time, to maintain certain expenses. Currently, despite the complex moment we are living in, there is more than enough time to be able to repay the debt that certain clubs have, and many of them have no debt. For such clubs, why are they not allowed to borrow during a period where there are rates of improvement?