ZURICH: An evaluation commissioned by FIFA TMS has quantified the benefits that its International Transfer Matching System (ITMS) brings to the more than 6,500 clubs and 209 member associations (MAs) using the system. One of the key findings from the independent report, which is based on feedback from ITMS club and MA users, is that the total potential cost savings amounts to USD 23 million.

FIFA TMS was founded as a FIFA subsidiary in 2007, with ITMS becoming mandatory for international transfers of all professional male eleven-a-side players in October 2010 to ensure football authorities would have more details available to them on every international transfer – in turn increasing the credibility of the entire transfer system and the integrity of the game.

The independent report has confirmed that the set objective of increasing transparency has been achieved. As compliance software, ITMS manages transfers in accordance with FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfers of Players, and supports the FIFA approval process for the “first registration” of minors (under 18) and the international transfer process involving minor players whether male or female, amateur or professional.

The report outlines how the ITMS ‘match’ requirement enhances accuracy of data which can be easily accessed for running compliance. Clubs and MAs also have full visibility of their transfer activity via reports that reflect such variables as number of transfers, total transfer fees, number of transfers by transfer type, and more. Examples of the positive feedback from users include:

“Undeniably the system has added greatly to the issuing of ITCs with complete flexibility and transparency.” – Ecuador Football Federation

“FIFA TMS brings traceability in transfer operations and allows clubs to see the actions performed by national associations in real-time.”
– France Football Federation

In addition to the main objective of improving transparency and ensuring adherence to FIFA’s regulations, the new report shows that ITMS has led to key cost benefits as follows:

Primary Cost Benefits
Time and costs savings in processing International Transfer Certificate (ITC)s: analysis shows that after the introduction of ITMS, the time taken to process an ITC was reduced by more than 35% (approximately two hours). The number of individuals involved in the ITC process has also decreased. Before ITMS, when transfers and receipt of ITCs were conducted via fax, 2.1 full time employees (FTE) in football clubs and 2.2 FTE in MAs were required. ITMS use lowers that number to 1.3 FTE and 1.5 FTE, respectively, allowing for cost savings in employee salaries. The quantifiable benefits of ITMS as identified through the more efficient processing of transfers and associated cost savings for clubs and MAs is estimated to total between USD 7.2m and 8.0m annually.

Secondary Cost Benefits
Standardisation and centralisation: ITMS significantly reduces transfer delays by providing an online platform requiring clubs to upload specific data that must “match”. If the system generates a “no match” alert, the transfer instruction is blocked. A blocked transfer prevents a member association from issuing an ITC.

However, following the relevant alert, the clubs involved are in a position and required to resolve the matching exception, with the participation of the other club involved. This allows for the process regarding the issuance of the ITC to be restarted promptly. Prior to the existence of ITMS, clubs and MAs could experience significant delays in relation to international transfers. Situations occurred where a club had already started paying a new player even though that player was not yet eligible to play for the club. Such instances could arise for various reasons, including slow communications methods, delays in the release of players by MAs, discrepancies in the transfer documents that were only discovered later, and so on.

The report estimates that, without the associated potential costs previously incurred due to the transfer delays, the potential annual benefit in savings for clubs is estimated to total USD 13.6m to 15.0m.