Welcome to 'The Art of conquering the transfer window and conducting transfer negotiations' by Daniel Levy, chairman of THFC - an abridged version.
Football transfers have a complex nature. It is not as simplistic as targeting a player, making an official approach to his club and bidding before successfully entering negotiations with the player and his agent. There are certain intricate details that you need to understand and appreciate before you risk time, money and years of investment in a brand new acquisition for the ENIC business portfolio.
You have to become one with the idea of the transfer. You have to embrace every possibility and nuance. You have to allow it to consume your subconscious so that you are able to taste every cog and wheel. Every potential outcome has to be calculated and played out in mind before a single muscle is moved in the direction of the fax machine.
The acquisition must be young and have sell-on potential*. It has to generate revenue in terms of shirt sales and merchandise. Most important of all, the player has to be good enough to be wanted by Manchester United or Real Madrid within two seasons of purchase date.
*Variances can be applied depending on coach ideology. If coach wants to buy older, experienced players then this can be accommodated as long as they are signed on the cheap and are thus cost-effective (for example see Harry Redknapp tenure).
Before Neo took control within the Matrix he had to first awaken from his slumber. He had to accept he was surrounded by a tapestry of lies. He had to believe this before opening his eyes to see the truth. Once the truth was understood, even bullets couldn't stop him. The transfer window, in many ways, is much like the Matrix. Plenty of running around, confusing story-arcs, deja vu, philosophical and spiritual awakenings along with hundreds of Agent Smiths churning out the same soundbites over and over again. Even the slow-motion action is something I can relate to.
To take this analogy a step further, I am Neo. Joe Lewis is Morpheus. Franco Baldini is the oracle and Andre Villas-Boas is the architect.
We are all intertwined. However, nothing will happen without my instinctive, decisive decision making. When those bullets are fired, I slow them down and freeze them in time. I like to freeze all aspects of running the football club in this way; Transfers, building a new stadium, replacing broken pixels on the Jumbotron at the Lane. The last hour of any given transfer window might appear to be 60 minutes to you, but it feels more like 60 days to me.
I am the catalyst. Without my leadership the knowledge the oracle provides will go to waste and the foundations the architect builds will lay in ruins.
Now onto the mechanics of the transfer dealings.
Below you will find 24 steps (the full version has 1756) which have allowed me to build Spurs up into a Champions League place competing side. These steps allow for complete clarity and confidence during the player acquisition window in terms of purchasing methodology. For selling players please refer to the chapter entitled 'The art of making a hefty profit for Bahamas based yacht investments'.
How to conduct football transfers
1) Firstly, wait until a player is available either due to a transfer request or via media coverage suggesting the player is available. Do nothing.
2) Allow the media to then guide the hype surrounding the player by linking him to Tottenham. Do nothing.
3) The agent of the player will aid the media but most of the work will be achieved by the internet and the football supporters that frequent its landscape. Blogs and social media accounts will all but engineer a move for the player to Tottenham by virtue of the written word and hype. Hype that feeds off the media which the media then continues to feast on.
4) At this juncture. Do nothing.
5) The media and the 11,000 or so club insiders will confirm the deal is at an advanced stage and is likely to happen. At this point, take a brisk walk over to the window. The window in the office. Take in the ambiance of the day. The sky, the clouds, the birds flying past.
6) The next day summon the director of football / technical director to the office. Ask him to confirm the availability of the player the media have been linking to the club. Suggest using 'the internet' as source for confirmation.
A - The player is no longer available
B - The player never wanted to sign and used Spurs as a means to get more money from his current club
C - The player is still available
7) If A wait for the next available target to be confirmed. If B release the hounds. If C continue...
8) Book a plane to Peru (public will be told 'holidaying in Florida') and immerse yourself with Ayahuasca in a traditional ceremony where you can ask advice from the ancient aliens you encounter whilst existing on another plan of consciousness. It's important to remember that due to the manner in which psychedelic experiences manifest and take you on a journey of self-discovery - much like dreaming, when you awaken from it, you can quickly forget the enlightenment you discovered. Ask a shaman for advice on how to retain lucidity. If booking the trip to Peru is not feasible, a quick game of paper rock-paper-scissors will suffice. Best out of 10,000 versus DoF to determine whether to bid or not.
9) Once the decision has been made to progress - make sure you're 100% certain to do so. Take a moment to re-look at the sky through the same window. Has it changed? Does it feel different? Does it still feel right? Do any of the cloud formations look like the player in question? If not, should we wait until the next available target is made public by the media?
10) When you desire* to push the interest in said player towards an actual bid, contact the opposing club that owns the players registration and contract and bid £5M under the proposed 'asking price' as reported by the media.
* If you do not desire, then wait until the next window or return to 6. Flip coin if undecided.
11) If the bid is rejected:
A - Bid £6M under the asking price
B - Go to Peru for a follow-up Ayahuasca ceremony
12) If the bid is again rejected:
A - Bid £5M under the asking price and highlight how you've improved the bid by £1M
B - Pull out of the deal, in a spot of gamesmanship and kidology to 'scare' the opposing club in lowering their valuation of the player
C - Send the Levy-Bot drones to invade the opposing club's headquarters by spray-painting Tottenham colours on all property
D - Command Levy-Bot drones to move to phase 2 and begin dropping copies of The Opus on opposing club's stadium and chairman's home
13) If the proposed transfer collapses, unable to proceed beyond having a bid accepted, go back to 6 and start over. If the bid is accepted continue...
14) You are now dealing with the player and his agent. Invite the player to a meeting and offer him a blue pill and a red pill. If he takes the red pill, cancel negotiations and ask him to leave. Return to 6.
If he takes the blue pill, continue with negotiations.
15) Offer the player a contract, but firstly test his resolve by having it all written in Latin. If he doesn't understand Latin, cancel negotiations and return to 6.
16) If the player accepts the contract - change it to see if he notices. If he does before putting pen to paper and wants it revised, cancel negotiations and return to 6.
17) If the player agrees terms and is about to sign - ask him for an extra day to consider some details relating to the structure of payment and contact the chairman of the opposing club. Tell the chairman there's been a change of plan and that you can now only offer £1M less than the originally agreed deal and pay the remaining money in bi-yearly payments made up of Mahognay crafted pennies and half cooked slices of liver. Also offer livestock as optional payments, i.e. Ponies, monkeys.
18) If the chairman doesn't agree to the new terms, bid again this time raising the bid by £100. Incremental payments of £50 per additional bid acceptable if 'haggle' is agreeable strategy.
19) If rejected, cancel the deal and return to 6.
20) If fee is agreed, complete the personal terms/contract signing (in principle) and organise the medical for the player.
21) With the medical, the player has to locate the Lost Ark of the Covenant but is not allowed to have a wise-cracking female as support and under no circumstance can he use a whip to aid with his search. If the player passes medical, then the formally agreed 'personal terms' can be confirmed using the Noel Edmonds 'Deal or No Deal' game show format where the player attempts to win his perfect wage and bonus structure. Failure will default to a standard package where the player will be subject to transfer speculation within 2/3 seasons with 90% possibility of transfer.
Important note - DO NOT ALLOW THE COVENANT TO BE OPENED UNLESS IT'S LEFT OUTSIDE THE EMIRATES ON MATCH-DAY.
22) If the player fails the medical, cancel the transfer and return to 6.
23) Once the deal is complete, officially announce the player on the Spurs home page. If there are any last minute disasters causing the transfer to fail, then see to it that the opposing club chairman wakes up in his bed the next morning to find the decapitated head of the player next to him. For reasons of legality, make sure you are not in the country at the time and have a cast-iron alibi.
24) If no deals are concluded and the window is about to shut or if you are caught in a loop and you are returning to 6 time and time again, then take a moment to look out of the office window. Do so every day, with deep thought, until the penultimate day of the transfer window.
Red sky at night, accept our plight = Do not bid for any players, conclude business for this window.
Blue sky at night, Jim White's delight = BID BID BID
Bid for every single player Liverpool are still interested in during the final hour of the window. If we strike lucky, then the coach will have to adapt his squad to make room for the new signing. If we strike out, then wait until the next window opens and re-start from step 1.
Unlike how other clubs manage their transfer policy and strategy by attempting to appease the selling club with immediate impact by agreeing a fee without complications with payment, my method is a proven success. We never over-spend or sign players that will prove detrimental to our accountancy. It's important to also take note of the following important mantras:
- Only ever bid for players that we have been linked to for several transfer windows but never conduct club to club talks until the final weeks of the window so they are under pressure to sell at a reduced price nearer the deadline. Then don't bid because the valuation is considered 'too much'.
- Only ever bid on players that are one season wonders or have third party ownership. Then don't bid because the valuation is considered 'too much' or negotiations are far too complex to finalise during the last day of the window when dealings are best conducted.
- Scout top class continental based strikers for several years. Never bid for them, wait until a super-rich club spends untold millions to sign them. Wait until the players prove themselves in the Premier league - then make a bid for them when they turn 31 years of age.
- Always look to sell the current strikers before completing deals for new ones.
- Only bid if Joe Lewis gives his blessing/requires a yacht upgrade.
I hope this has given you some insight to how football chairmanship works and the complexities at hand when seeking to strengthen a Premier league club.