The Portuguese Player of the Year, who had scored a stunning thirty-one goals in his final year with the Lions, was transferred for a reported €80m plus a ten percent sell-on clause – for Sporting this would be very lucrative and could support the Lisbon team’s transfer budget for several seasons to come. Certainly, as one of the Big Three in the Primeira Liga, it was the sort of money to boost their competitiveness against Benfica and FC Porto. Manchester agreed to pay in instalments, although Sporting would have preferred a lump sum. Sporting found an unnamed German bank to provide that larger sum, while the bank could claim the instalments plus a small, nominal fee (reportedly around three-to-five percent). With the worldwide health crisis dominating headlines, the bank has become risk-averse and now reportedly has chosen to block the lump sum payment, leaving Sporting facing a major financial issue as they wait for United’s instalments. This may well endanger Sporting’s ability to have sufficient funds or collateral to find a suitable replacement for Fernandes.
They were already miles off the pace for the league title and the inability to get an immediate replacement for Fernandes could see this simmering issue become a major problem.
To add to Sporting’s problems, the ‘A Bola’ sports paper reported that Italian club Sampdoria were claiming they are owed €4.65m, equivalent to approximately ten percent of the profit Sporting made on their original purchase of Fernandes.
With Sporting uncertain that they are even liable to pay, there is currently no resolution on the horizon – making the likely outcome a major escalation with a formal complaint being made to FIFA. It is difficult to know where Sporting stand financially. While the payments they are due will be made, the issue of cash flow, combined with the current postponement of games meaning reduced income from TV rights, sponsorship and ticket sales does not auger well for a club that was already known to be experiencing serious financial hardship. As the current season reaches a close, and the transfer window opens in July, it is unlikely Sporting can do anything to strengthen their side until they resolve their disputes with both the banks and their Italian counterparts. CW