La Liga Chief Encourages ‘Third Party’ Investment, Defying UEFA

The Spanish soccer league’s president wants more investors to buy stakes in the transfer rights of players, clashing with plans by the sport’s European ruling body, UEFA, to outlaw the practice.

Javier Tebas said he’d like more funds to enter the market now dominated by Doyen Sports to make so-called third-party ownership more competitive and improve the terms that investors offer to cash-strapped teams such as Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. Doyen is part of a London-based hedge fund.

UEFA, based in Nyon, Switzerland, said it’s concerned that investors may interfere in the $3 billion transfer market, and wants to ban the practice from its competitions, including the Champions League. Doyen provides financing that clubs can’t get from Spanish banks, Tebas said.

“I’m very much in favor of this,” Tebas said in a seminar at the league’s offices in Madrid. “It allows us to organize debt and make our clubs more competitive.”

Spanish soccer clubs have a combined tax debt of 690 million euros ($933 million), and the government has set a 2020 repayment deadline. Doyen Sports Chief Executive Nelio Lucas said the fund has invested 80 million euros in sports the last three years.

Tebas said the league plans to start regulating investments next year, and could limit the amount of deals per team. He also wants funds to identify investors to comply with a law to stop money laundering.

Doyen’s partners include Rixos Hotels Chief Executive Fettah Tamince and Bayrock Group LLC founder Tevfik Arif. UEFA officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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