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Automated solutions could help football clubs to meet transfer deadlines, experts say

Out-Law News | 04 Jan 2018 | 10:19 am | 1 min. read

Football clubs should be investigating automated solutions to help them with the issues that arise around twice-yearly transfer deadlines, an expert has said.

Global football governing body FIFA is extremely strict with the deadline, which is set for the current transfer window at 11pm on 31 January 2018 in the UK, or midnight in mainland Europe. Leicester City was unable to complete the signing of Portuguese midfielder Adrien Silva from Sporting Lisbon during the August transfer window, as the paperwork arrived with FIFA 14 seconds too late.

The £22 million signing was completed when the January transfer window opened, and the midfielder made his debut for the club in its match against Huddersfield on 1 January, according to the BBC.

Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, has been working with Premiership football club Everton to produce an automated system to assist with the transfer process, said Julian Diaz-Rainey, a sports law expert at the firm.

"FIFA is very strict with its enforcement of the 11pm deadline as any flexibility, even to allow a transfer filed 14 seconds too late, could set a precedent," he said. "Missing the deadline can have serious implications for both the player and the club, and an automated system can prove invaluable in making sure the deadline is met."

Knowledge engineering expert Sarah Wilson of Pinsent Masons explained that the system created for Everton allows the club's in-house legal team to automate all the documents and forms required for player transfers, and for loans both into and out of the club.

"Speed is obviously key in the production of these documents, making them an obvious choice for automation," she said. "Other benefits include consistency, and the ability to manage risk."

"It has been very rewarding to see the work we have undertaken make a real difference to the way the transfer process is carried out," she said.