Doyen Group

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Doyen Sports Investments Limited, better known as Doyen Sports, is a private equity fund specializing in financial speculation, advising, and managing careers of players and coaches in association football. Doyen Sports is particularly active in financing the third-party ownership of the contracts of professional footballers. From 2011 to 2016, Doyen invested €170 million in association football.[1]

Doyen Sports is a Malta-based subsidiary of the hedge fund Doyen Group.[1] Doyen Sports was founded in 2011 and has worked with South American and European football clubs and players.[2] Its thirty London office employees manage scouting and marketing for the firm.

Corporate structure[edit]

Doyen Group[edit]

Doyen Sports is a subsidiary of the Doyen Group, a British holding company and hedge fund based in Istanbul. The holding company is active in the economic sectors of raw materials, chemicals, hotels and construction.

Prior to 2008, the Doyen Group operated in emerging markets in Africa and Latin America, as well as in Turkey and the Middle East, the CIS and Asian countries with interests in the extraction of metals, minerals and fossil fuels (natural gas and products). As a joint venture partner with NUCAP Ltd, the Doyen Group is active in the energy, fertilizer and uranium sectors. According to Football Leaks documents, Doyen Sports founder Nélio Freire Lucas owns 20% of the Doyen Group subsidiary Doyen Natural Resources through shell corporations in tax havens. Lucas negotiated mining deals in Brazil, Sierra Leone and Angola.[3]

Starting in 2008, the Doyen Group began investing in professional football via a sports investment subsidiary, quickly becoming a benchmark in the field of sports investment and speculation funds. When buying players, the group brings money to the buyer club, which they consider to be an investment in the economic rights of players. In exchange, the group receives a part of the compensation when it is resold, via an agreement that if no transfer is made, allows the group to recover its investment. Nélio Lucas describes this process as "Third Party Investment" or TPI (as opposed to the TPO).[4] In three years, from 2011 to 2014, Doyen brought "80 million euros in this type of operation, mainly in Europe".[5] A

Doyen Sports was founded in 2011 by Nélio Freire in Malta (a European tax haven[6]). Freire, a native of Coimbra, Portugal, attended UCLA[7]) and worked for the Creative Artists Agency. He was, according to Médiapart, "responsible for casting a modeling agency (and sentenced for tax evasion and bounced checks)"[3] before getting involved with association football in Europe. He worked with Pini Zahavi (principal agent of footballers in the United Kingdom) for nine years,[8] and with the Stellar Group, then-partner of the Portuguese club Beira-Mar. In 2017, Nélio Lucas was considered to be one of the top 100 most influential people in football by FourFourTwo.[9] Lucas held 20% of the capital of Doyen Sports, which was given to him by the Arif family via an offshore company in Malta.[10] By 2015–2016, Doyen Sports was among the most powerful of the ten funds of this type developed in recent years.[6] The Third Party Ownership (TPO) function was recently banned by FIFA.[5]

Doyen Capital[edit]

Doyen Group's financial division, Doyen Capital LLP, was based in London. It was dissolved on November 22, 2016.[11]

Doyen Global Limited[edit]

Another group, called Doyen Consulting Limited (from 7 March 2013 to 9 April 2013) and then renamed Doyen Global Limited[12][13] is directed by Simon Oliveira, Matthew Kay and Timucin Kaan.

Player transfers and club financing[edit]

Doyen Sports specializes in the financial speculation of well-known footballers, purchasing some of the their rights from football clubs and then reselling them. In association football, this type of funding can replace the role of banks as a source of loans and credits.[4] Doyen Sports acts as an intermediary for the sale of audiovisual rights and rights for the image of players professionals of major clubs, even players' rights ... hence the designation of "Third Party Ownership" (TPO);.[14][15] According to a 2016 article in the newspaper L'Équipe the Doyen Group manages the image rights of Neymar, Xavi, David Beckham, Usain Bolt and Boris Becker.[5]

Doyen Sports lends money to professional clubs. The club then has three years to repay its debt. The clubs may either retain the players and repay their debt from Doyen Sport within this timeframe, or resell the players to repay the same debt. The first operations of this type were carried out in Brazil and then concentrated on the area of the main European players' championships.[16]

In 2011, taking advantage of the Spanish banking crisis, the Doyen Sports Group financed a number of Spanish sports clubs, including Sporting de Gijón.[4] The group financed 55% of the transfer of Radamel Falcao from FC Porto to Atlético Madrid, advancing the Spanish club only €18 million. In 2013, Atlético Madrid sold Falcao to AS Monaco FC for €60 million.[17]

In 2013, Doyen Sports lent about €57 million for the transfer of Neymar from Brazil to FC Barcelona.[18]

In 2014, after acquiring 33.3% of the economic rights of the French player Eliaquim Mangala, Doyen Sports contributed to his transfer from Porto to Manchester City (for €40 million),[8] of which only €22 went to Porto, with a large share of €17.9 million destined for Doyen Sports.

In 2014, Doyen Sports also acted as intermediary in the sale of the Serbian player Dušan Tadić of FC Twente (with whom he had a contract[19]) in Southampton.[20]

In 2015, Doyen Sports announced that it was acting as a sports policy consultant with a group of entrepreneurs represented by Thai tycoon Bee Taechaubol, who intended to buy a share of AC Milan.[21][22] According to Dominique Rousseau of the Cahiers du football, Erick Thohir, new owner (Indonesian) of Inter Milan, would be one of the other investors of Doyen Sports,[4] but finally Silvio Berlusconi preferred Chinese investors to him.[3]

In July 2016, a renewable loan agreement of €100 million over seven years was made between Refik Arif, (for Doyen Capital LLP); However, Benington Group Assets is the sole shareholder Malik Ali (born in 1984 in Kazakhstan, resident in Turkey, but is also or has been director of Doyen Capital LLP,[23] alongside, therefore, Refik Arif). In addition, Benington Group Assets holds 80% of the shares of Doyen Sports Investments Limited. The holding company of Doyen Group remains unknown.

Criticism and conflict[edit]

While large football clubs formed large corporations, this type of fund contributed to the financialisation of football and the treatment of players bought and sold by "third parties" Criticized by Michel Platini in 2015: "Some players are simply no longer masters of their sporting career and are transferred each year to enrich those unknowns eager for football money." The latter as President of UEFA contributed to the FIFA ban on the economic rights of footballers[5] and to end what he considers a "shame" and "form of slavery", an opinion shared by FIFPro (the International Federation of Professional Footballers).

On 1 May 2015 this measure was effective but immediately challenged, before the European courts, by the Doyen Sports Group and the Portuguese and Spanish Leagues with the lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont (originating the Bosman ruling) Via complaints against FIFA, UEFA, LFP, FA and the Polish Football Association (in Poland, third ownership is prohibited).[5] Doyen Sports will finally (in September 2016) rejected.[24] · [25]

Many observers, including lawyer Jim Gabriel-Michel, criticize the non-transparency of this fund, especially concerning its investors, which is a problem because it can be a source of hidden conflicts of interest : One has to worry and think about the conflicts of interest that this type of activity poses. One can not be both the one who sells and the one who buys." (2015).[4]

Nélio Freire (of Doyen Sports) considers that the ban on "third party property" could lead to "dangerous alternatives:" Funds will buy clubs. "Doyen has forbidden to do so and yet it would be easy for us."[4]

Doyen Sports has been accused of a lack of transparency regarding the origin of its funds and the fact of continuing to speculatively take "shares" in the football players of the clubs (at least forty players and coaches would be concerned in 2015–2016) while this practice has been banned by FIFA since May 2015 and banned in France and Poland, but actually pursued under the pretext of a third party investment (TPI). The group sought legal flaws to reauthorize the TPO "with various fortunes." It failed in Belgium and France, but had success with the CAS in its dispute with Sporting Portugal on the case Rojo (according to the newspaper The Team in December 2016).[6]

In 2015 the financial agency Bloomberg and then in 2016 the journalistic investigation based on the Football Leaks,[26][27] gradually update at least part of the investors and financing (hitherto hidden) that allowed the group to create itself and develop.[28] According to a newspaper consortium, European Investigative Collaborations, Doyen Sports reportedly paid €10.8 million in secret commissions for the transfer of various players (including the French Kondogbia and Mangala and the Colombian Radamel Falcao) through black boxes and Of false invoices.[7] According to the Football Leaks these black boxes are three "shell companies" named Rixos, Denos and PMCI, registered in the United Arab Emirates.[6]


  1. ^ a b Doyen Sports joue à cash-cash ; Le fonds d’investissement au cœur de la bataille du TPO, qui a ses entrées à l’OM, est un modèle d’opacité: montage de douze sociétés, prête-noms, sociétés écrans… Enquête sur ce brouillage de pistes à l’aide des documents révélés par Football Leaks ; December 2016, Accessed 17 December 2016.
  2. ^ Ecco cos'è Doyen Sports, sur Accessed 5 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Article intitulé "Football Leaks : qui est Nelio Lucas, le visage de Doyen Sports?" L'Équipe. 17 December 2016
  4. ^ a b c d e f Vilas Nicolas (2015), Mercato: Banque, partenaire, sponsor, gestion d’image de stars: impossible d'échapper à Doyen Sports, le 08/07/2015, Accessed 17 December 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Vilas, Nicolas (8 July 2015) "Mercato: Banque, partenaire, sponsor, gestion d’image de stars: impossible d'échapper à Doyen Sports", Eurosport.
  6. ^ a b c d Article intitulé Football Leaks: Qui se cache derrière Doyen Sports?, L'Équipe. 16 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Caisse noire et commissions occultes: la méthode Doyen - Page 1 | Mediapart". Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Grégoire, Mathieu (14 October 2015). "Nelio Lucas, le trader de footballeurs", Libération.
  9. ^ "FourFourTwo's 100 most influential people in football right now: 70-61". FourFourTwo. 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2017-12-19. 
  10. ^ "Commissions occultes, filles de l'Est : les dessous du système Doyen Sports". L'Equipe (in French). 16 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "DOYEN CAPITAL LLP - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  12. ^ "Doyen Global". Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Fiche DOYEN GLOBAL LIMITED (n°de Compagnie 08433290, statut : Private limited Company pour des activités répertoriées par la rubrique : 70229 - Management consultancy activities other than financial management ) ; sur le site gouvernementla
  14. ^ Marco Bellinazzo, Doyen Sports pronta a finanziare la Serie A. Nelio Lucas al Sole 24 Ore: budget da 200 milioni, in Sole 24 Ore (Milano), 24 May 2014. Accessed 12 June 2015.
  15. ^ Joseph S. Blatter (President of FIFA) 2007, : "Le football doit conserver son autonomie" ; conférence de presse/entretien du vendredi 5 October 2007 à Zurich.
  16. ^ Oliva, Alessandro (1 August 2014). "Il fondo che sta cambiando il calcio in Europa", Linkiesta. Accessed 9 February 2017.
  17. ^ Oliva, Alessandro (24 April 2014). "L’Atlético big d’Europa grazie ai fondi d’investimento", Linkiesta. Accessed 12 June 2105.
  18. ^ Alessandro Oliva, "I fondi comprano i giocatori, le squadre ringraziano", Linkiesta. 26 gennaio 2014. Accessed 12 June 2105.
  19. ^ Marco Bellinazzo, Doyen Sports conferma: firmato accordo commerciale con il Twente, 13 June 2014. Accessed 12 June 2015.
  20. ^ Bellinazzo, Marco. "Mercato, in Spagna e Portogallo dominio dei fondi d’investimento: tre affari in orbita Doyen Sports" 15 luglio. Accessed 12 June 2105.
  21. ^ Marco Bellinazzo, Milan, Doyen Sports annuncia la collaborazione con mr. Bee: “Pronti a rendere il club nuovamente vincente”. Accessed 12 June 2015.
  22. ^ La Doyen esce allo scoperto: "Lavoreremo con il Milan", in La Gazzetta dello Sport (Milano), 9 June 2015. Accessed 12 June 2105.
  23. ^ Fiche DOYEN CAPITAL LLP (n°OC365654) ; sur
  24. ^ Ordonnance de mise en état TGI PARIS, 8 September 2016, 15/05993
  25. ^ Nullité des assignations délivrées par DOYEN SPORTS à la FFF, la LFP, la FIFA et l'UEFA; 26 September 2016
  26. ^ Sorbello, Paolo (3 January 2017). "Football Leaks: The Kazakh Connection". The Diplomat. 
  27. ^ "The Doyen Group". El Mundo. 17 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  28. ^ Philippin, Yann (16 December 2016) "Doyen Sports: une pieuvre aux connexions mafieuses", Mediapart.