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Co-ownership in Italian soccer is about to come to an end

May 29, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

domenico_barardi AP

Italy’s Serie A is a handful of big teams followed by a collection of scavengers living off the pickings. At least, if you looked at the squad lists of teams that make up the middle of bottom of the league’s table, that would be a reasonable conclusion, considering the large numbers of players from Italy’s big clubs that litter those rosters. Be it via loan, co-ownership, or through academy products, the influence of Juventus, Milan, and Inter Milan can at times dominate squads of many of the division’s other clubs.

According to Giancarlo Abete, however, one means of exerting that influence is going to disappear. Co-ownership, which the Italian soccer federation president identifies as an “atypical” problem compared to the rest of Europe, is going the way of the dinosaur. The practice will be banned by the FIGC.

From Reuters:

“From the next transfer window onwards, the co-ownership of players will no longer be possible,” Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete said on the organisation’s website.

“This has been questioned many times by public opinion and it is also evident that it is atypical compared to the rest of Europe,” he added.

Co-ownership, usually with both clubs own a 50 percent stake in a player, serves a number of different purposes in Italy, but often it gives the bigger club what’s essentially a right of refusal on a player. In the case of 19-year-old Sassuolo forward Domenico Berardi, who scored 16 goals this season, Juventus’s ownership stake gives the Old Lady a get the talented prospect back.

In most cases, the difference between a loan deal with an option to buy and a co-ownership deal is either semantic or procedural, depending on how you look at it. Same goes for a  straight sale with a buy-back clause. As of now, however, Serie A is taking away one of those procedures.

Now, if Italy’s big clubs are going to sprinkle their players throughout the league, they’re just going to have to do it like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and other clubs: Put a buy-back clause in the deal. Sure, the function’s the same, allowing the bigger team to pull back talent at any time, but at least it’s not co-ownership.

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