It is news which should cheer up his fellow club presidents and maybe even give them some ideas: the vice-president and CEO of AS Monaco, Vadim Vasilyev, gets a commission on players that the French Ligue 1 club sells. That is revealed in documents from Football Leaks, obtained by German weekly Der Spiegel and analysed by Mediapart (see 'Boite Noîre' bottom of page) and partners in the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).
He had previously received 5.3 million euros for the 2015/2016 season and 5.4 million for the 2016/2017 season, according to a club accounts document dating from July 2017. But his 2016/2017 bonus was cut by 636,000 euros because of a tax reassessment carried out by the Spanish authorities following several transfers on which Monaco had thought they could avoid tax.
However, Vadim Vasilyev will soon hit the jackpot. In the summer of 2017 AS Monaco (ASM) sold four big name players – Bernardo Silva, Tiémoué Bakayoko and one of the game's emerging global stars Kylian Mbappé – for a gain of 286 million euros. That means a commission for the club's vice-president of 28.6 million euros which will be paid in several payments as the clubs who bought the players pay in instalments. The Russian should receive 9 million euros of that total this year in relation to the first payment made in July by France's leading club PSG for the purchase of Mbappé.
According to the specialist site Transfermarkt, the total gain made by AS Monaco from the sale of its players over the last five seasons amounts to 419 million euros - meaning 41 million euros for 'Mr 10%'.
These ample fees, paid in instalments, are not under-the-table payments; the 10% commission features in black and white in the first supplementary clause in the vice-president's work contract dating from August 2013. “The present clause also adds to the employee's fixed salary profit-sharing of 10% (ten percent) on all the capital gains made by the Company on the sale of players,” the contract states. This commission is paid under the heading of 'exceptional bonus' within fifteen days after the payments received by the club in relation to those transfers. Any resulting losses on the sale of a player, meanwhile, are deducted from the bonuses.
AS Monaco is very aware of the special nature of these measures. When sending the contract documents to Yury Bogdanov, a loyal official at Rybolovlev's family office Rigmora which oversees AS Monaco, the club's financial director Alexander Sarrazin carefully noted: “As you already know, these agreements are highly confidential.” However, the lawyer Jean-Pierre Gastaud, a director at ASM and who is close to the ruling authorities in the principality, recalls: “We voted something through on that.”
Vadim Vasilyev himself confirms: “The executives' contracts are contracts under private law and are not in theory subject either to a charter of the sporting authorities or the approval of the club's board of directors … But I can confirm to you that the club's board of directors was duly informed of these operations on a regular basis.” The club itself says: “This contract needs no validation by the sporting authorities....It includes a remuneration that varies according to the club's results (financial and sporting) as is customary for all heads of a major business.” (For Vadim Vasilyev's full response see the end of this article.)
However, does this kind of bonus conform to the rules? Tatiana Vassine, a specialist sports lawyer, says football's governing body FIFA could look into whether it conforms with the ban on 'third party ownership' or TPO, which came into effect in 2015. Part of article 18 of FIFA's regulations on the status and transfer of players states: “No club or player shall enter into an agreement with a third party whereby a third party is being entitled to participate, either in full or in part, in compensation payable in relation to the future transfer of a player from one club to another, or is being assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation.”
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“The question then is to know if the director of a club is considered to be a third party or not,” says Tatiana Vassine. FIFA has not given Mediapart a precise answer on this. It is all therefore a question of interpretation, says the lawyer. “FIFA could consider that a person who is part of a club is not a third party,” she says. Equally, it could decided the opposite. “If the club is smart it receives the money from the transfer and pays a part to its director as an exceptional bonus with no further explanation,” says the lawyer, which would not be against the current rules. That is exactly what AS Monaco did.
The governing body of France's football leagues, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), has been somewhat wrong-footed by this bonus clause, which it appears not to have known about. On the one hand the LFP reminded Mediapart that third parties “cannot, without contravening the applicable FIFA regulations, receive any profit-sharing on the future sale of the player”. The organisation also points out that sanctions exist. “As an example, Atletico Madrid were punished this this summer with a fine of around 45,000 euros,” it says.
But the LFP also notes: “You must not link the ban on a third party receiving a share of the profits on a given transfer and the possibility for a director or a recruiter to have a profit-sharing [scheme] over the economic results for a club arising from the sale or resale of a player whom it has trained or recruited.” The organisation cites examples of training centres that receive a bonus “according to the number of players being trained who sign as professionals in a club”. The LFP says that even if this is something they are not aware of happening among members, they could imagine that “some positions in a club, among them that of director, might have a financial stake in the overall total amount involved in transfers during, for example, a particular transfers deadline period” which would not be illegal.