A fake AS Monaco – Manchester United friendly worth €4m – Mediapart investigate secret contracts at AS Monaco

The following is a translation of an article by French outlet Mediapart, who allege that AS Monaco have been skirting player contract regulations as set out by the LFP, the French league governing body.

Get French Football News takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the content.

Secret contracts appear to have long been a practice at AS Monaco. In the summer of 2013, Eric Abidal signed a secret contract (not declared or shown to the LFP) that indicated that if he played more than 25 games, his deal would be automatically extended.

Daniel Bique told the player’s agent that this was the only way: “LFP rules do not allow you to have a clause in a contract that sees a player’s deal extended for playing a certain number of matches. That is why an automatic extension like this can only be agreed in a secret contract.”

The same solution was offered up when Ricardo Carvalho was signed, this time an automatic extension if he started 30 games in a season. Abidal left Monaco in the summer of 2014, but not empty handed, thanks to another secret agreement “not submitted to the LFP – a secret contract from 10.12.2014,” explained Nicolas Holveck, the club’s Director General, on 6th June 2016. Thanks to this agreement, between July 2014 and April 2015, Abidal earned €2.2m in four instalments.

When Jérémy Toulalan signed for two years in 2013, Monaco signed a secret contract to include a clause that could see his deal reworked into a coach agreement. Holveck said on the matter: “It is a unilateral clause, so the LFP does not accept it. It is signed as a secret contract.”

Another secret contract was signed in relation to the Toulalan deal, this time between Monaco and Malaga “owing to the good relationships between the parties involved in the transfer of Jérémy Toulalan.” Malaga earned the right to sign Terence Makengo for free from AS Monaco, or earn a €1m coupon to sign another player from a list formulated by ASM.

Again, Bique knew what he was doing, and explained as much to Malaga: “We have taken out article 2.1 (B) because it will not be accepted by the French league. It will have to be part of a secret contract.”

Monaco predicted that any potential fall-out from such an agreement would be tried in Monaco courts, which the club was not particularly concerned about. Daniel Bique explained: “I prefer the Monaco law rather than FIFA, because this type of procedure is not authorised… but if they only want CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) that works too.”

Radamel Falcao’s 2013 transfer from Atletico Madrid to Monaco was also tainted by these types of practices, according to Mediapart. The fee touted in the media for this transfer at the time was €60m, but the exact sum was €53m, as submitted to the FIFA Transfer Matching System. Strangely, the deal contract stipulated a fee of €43m. Atletico Madrid were in fact paid in two instalments, and through two bills. One worth the €43m and then another worth €10m, which poses some problems.

What is the difference? A €53m transfer would see the solidarity contribution required to be paid to Falcao’s former Colombian club as €2.65m. But in a €43m deal, that sum goes down to €2.15m, a €500k save. A Monaco employee wrote at the time: “There is a risk of penalties from FIFA. If they learn of the existence of a clause of €10m, there could be problems.”

Monaco Vice President Vasilyev approached Jorge Mendes’ lawyer, Carlos Osório de Castro: “And if FIFA decide one day to consider this €10m option as part of the transfer? We will then have to pay them (the Colombian side) €500k.” 

Mendes’ agent’s response did not seem to indicate the existence of a worried individual: “The transfer must be €42m. This sum must appear in the agreement. AdM (Atletico de Madrid) did a similar deal with Manchester United in the past and the option size was not factored into the calculations for the solidarity payments.”

Another slightly questionable element to the deal was that Jorge Mendes would appear as AS Monaco’s agent in the deal and not Falcao’s, with de Castro adding: “Jorge will not represent the player, and the player will be delighted to affirm the same thing in his agreement with Monaco.” As often happens in football, agent juggling was in play here. Whether or not they are mandated as the player’s or club’s agent, they still run the whole deal.

But a Monaco lawyer, new to football, threatened to bring down the whole deal, claiming that it is not enough for Mendes not be listed on the deal as Falcao’s agent owing to the fact that his representation of the player was common knowledge.

She did provide some work-arounds: either the commission cover only the negotiation between the two clubs, in which case it cannot exceed 6% of the size of the transfer – with Mendes demanding more – or that the deal is done in a tri-party way, in which Falcao receives his agent’s commission – which is totally legal. It remains unclear as to what the eventual arrangement was, but in 2015, Radamel Falcao agreed to halve his monthly salary to €500k and Mendes was not listed as the agent, even though the Portuguese super-agent’s lawyer sent the contract to Vasilyev…

Another intrigue surrounds the loan of the Colombian captain to Manchester United for the 2014-15 campaign. The deal was closed in September 2014 by John Alexander at Manchester United, who made an initial loan offer with an option to buy.

The deal was such that Manchester United would pay €6m plus €4m in bonuses if the English club finished in the top 4 of the Premier League. Performance bonus clauses were illegal according to LFP regulations, and thus this clause was left off the second draft of the loan contract.

The two clubs found a way of including the €4m in the deal, but excluding all mention of it from the legal paperwork. On 1st September 2014, Manchester United and Monaco signed two contracts together. One was a €6m loan deal for Falcao, and the other was an agreement over a friendly match that Manchester United would pay AS Monaco… €4m for.

The only condition on this friendly going ahead was that Manchester United finished in the top 4 of the Premier League. There was a bizarre clause in this deal: even if the friendly were not to go ahead, Manchester United would still have to pay Monaco €4m.

A year later, and lo and behold, Manchester United cancelled the friendly, with Louis van Gaal “confirming that he did not want to have another friendly game after this summer tournament.”

Neither Manchester United nor Monaco responded to Mediapart’s request for a comment on whether this deal was set-up to circumvent LFP regulations.


Get Football+

More European Football News