For those looking to understand “Bridge Transfers” there is a great post over at the Soccerex blog that lays out the advantages which are leading more clubs to use this mechanism. A bridge transfer is essentially the use of an intermediary club to gain or retain economic benefits from a player while maintaining the legal rights of a FIFA registered club. These benefits include continuing control over player registration, commercial payments, tax avoidance, and reduction of ancillary payments related to national FA rules.
How does this work in practice? For a desired transfer from Club A (player’s original club) to Club B (new club), the club or Third Party Owner will transfer the player registration to Club C and from there the player will be loaned out to the Club B. The transfer fee and location of Club C will depend on the particular benefit the clubs are looking to realize.
It is likely that demand for bridge transfers, and other similar transactions, will be driven by the growing sophistication of clubs and third-party owners and the increasingly global transactions occurring in the soccer market. Bridge transfers are not negative by definition, like many other legal and tax workarounds they exist because the framework allows them to. However large questions remain, specifically whether the use of bridge transfers is an unfair economic advantage which skews competitive balance and the existence of bridge clubs, particularly those which are simple shells for sheltering player registrations.