In 2007, FIFA moved to create an online system to regulate international professional football transfers. The system, called TMS (Transfer Matching System), aims to increase integrity and transparency in the transfer market, as well as to enforce FIFA’s rules regarding the protection of minors involved in transfers.

Two years later, in September 2009, the very first electronic transfer confirmation was generated through TMS, enabling Cameroonian defender Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe to move from Celtic to Toulouse. Since 1 October 2010, the use of TMS has been compulsory for all transfers of professional male footballers.

The year 2011 marked a new step forward in the process of transfer transparency, as for the first time, a full calendar year of transfers was recorded and analysed in TMS. The resulting report, entitled Global Transfer Market 2011, offers a detailed breakdown of transfers completed between 1 January and 31 December 2011. takes a closer look at some of the key facts and figures.

45 On average, a new transfer was completed every 45 minutes in 2011, with more than 11,500 moves registered between 1 January and 31 December. The months of January, July and August were understandably the most active, and those three months alone accounted for more than 60 per cent of all transfers completed in 2011. The busiest day of the year was 31 August, when 317 deals were sealed in 24 hours.

70 Perhaps surprisingly, 70 per cent of transfers in 2011 involved out-of-contract players signing as free agents. Over half of these were players whose contracts had expired, while 30 per cent had had their contracts terminated early and the remaining 15 per cent had been previously registered as amateurs. Permanent club-to-club transfers may receive the most media attention, but they actually only accounted for 10 per cent of all moves, with around 1,100 such transactions made in 2011. Loans, meanwhile, accounted for 12 per cent of transfer deals, with players returning from loans making up 8 per cent.

3bn The total amount in USD of financial compensation recorded in TMS, of which 82 per cent was in the form of agreed transfer compensation. While the average agreed transfer compensation was USD 1.5m, most transfer deals actually involved much lower fees. Indeed, the overall average is pushed up by a few very expensive transfers. Only 14 per cent of transfers involved some kind of financial compensation, while the remaining 86 per cent of registered deals in 2011 went through without any money changing hands. The average annual salary for a professional footballer is estimated to be USD 244,000, but again, the average is skewed upwards up by a small number of very high earners. The median salary, meanwhile, is USD 43,000, which means that half of footballers earn more than USD 43,000 and half earn less.

23 The average age of players transferred in 2011 was 23. Half of the players transferred internationally were aged between 22 and 27. The oldest player transferred internationally in 2011 was 46, while players under the age of 18 accounted for just one per cent of all international transfers in the year.

20 20 per cent of transfers in 2011 involved Brazilian or Argentinian players. Brazilians alone accounted for 13 per cent of transfers, which is the equivalent of more than 1,500 individual player transactions. Aside from Brazil, three other South American countries appear in the top ten represented nationalities. They are: Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia. French players were the most transferred in Europe, while on the African continent, Nigerians were involved in the most international transfers (three per cent over the course of the year).

24 All 208 FIFA member associations now use TMS, and over 5,000 clubs also employ the system. However, half of all transfer activity in 2011 was spread across just 24 member associations, with the top five associations alone accounting for 18 per cent of all activity.

130m The total amount in USD of club agent commission that clubs declared in 2011. This figure only reflects commission paid by clubs to club agents; commission paid by players to their own representatives does not have to be declared in TMS. The average club agent commission was $240,000, against an average transfer value of USD 1.5m.

2 The number of transfer registration periods, or ‘transfer windows’, per season, per member association. While most associations opt for the months of July, August and January, registration periods can, in fact, take place in any of the 12 months of the year. At present, on any given day of the year, at least one association in the world will have an open registration period.

13000 In 2011, 13,000 international transfers or first registrations involved minors (players under the age of 18). Around 1,500 individual applications were made to FIFA, and only one per cent of the minors considered by the specialist commission were professionals. Forty-five per cent of these applications related to players aged 16 or 17. Among these 1,500 individual cases, nine of the ten most represented nationalities were from Europe, with Brazilian the exception. Albania was the most represented country, ahead of Brazil and France.