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The digital dotted line points towards the future of football transfer window technology

With the January transfer window now closed, Jesper Frederiksen, VP EMEA at DocuSign, looks at what the future holds when it comes to transfer window technology.

‘Arry not ‘appy at lack of wheeling and dealing

The January transfer window closed with £130 million spent by Premier League clubs, far less than the record £225m spent in January 2011.

The comparatively low spend can be attributed to the record spending by clubs over the summer window, but missed signings are still proving detrimental to clubs, players and managers throughout the Premier League.

Harry Redknapp’s decision to resign from Queen’s Park Rangers was attributed to impending knee surgery, but pundits argue that the failure for the club to sign new players this window was the final straw for the manager.

Missed targets Emmanuel Adebayor and Matt Jarvis, whose signatures failed to arrive in the final hours of deadline day, may have sped his departure, and show just how critical player signings are for managers during the transfer window.

Fax Out

Signings are also vital for other footballing parties. Fans around the world know the heartbreak of seeing their dream signing collapse at the last minute.

Yevhen Konoplyanka’s missed signature for Liverpool FC in 2014, Tottenham Hotspur missing out on Porto’s Joao Moutinho in 2012 and Fabio Coentrao for Manchester United in 2013 are just some examples of signings which went awry in the final hours of the window.

Players miss out on joining new clubs, agents see potential transfer commissions vanish and fans find themselves shouting at the Sky Sports team bringing them the bad news on their television screen.

The use of outdated technology in the back office of clubs plays a huge part in stalling or completely stopping these deals, with clubs facing a flurry of incoming paperwork which is processed through ancient fax machines in the closing minutes of the window.

The US faces a similar problem, as the Elvis Dumervile fiasco highlighted for American Football in 2013.

National signing day for NCAA football fell at the start of this month, with fax machines once again being dusted off and prepped for incoming paperwork. So what needs to be done?

FA and the future of football

Clubs need to adopt the digital technologies available to them. The FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) is a great start but doesn’t aid clubs in handling all the paperwork involved in a trade.

Football clubs have long been thought of as slow adopters of new technology but the recent introductions of vanishing spray and goal-line technology show this is changing. Now is the time for football associations to bring new technology into the back-office.

eSignature technology allows for all the necessary paperwork to be signed from a mobile, desktop or tablet device. With Digital Transaction Management (DTM) technology, all the paperwork for all required parties can be handled through a single, secure platform.

The football industry should follow the example of other businesses; the likes of Virgin Holidays has reduced material costs by £10,000 per year through DTM technology and cut the time it takes to process a contract by 92 per cent.

Imagine that time saving being adopted by a football club: you might actually see that dream signing come through on deadline day.

As a result you might just see a smiling Harry Redknapp show up in that Range Rover.


Jesper Frederiksen, Okta’s GM for EMEA, spent four years prior to Okta with DocuSign, leading the company’s expansion across EMEA as VP and GM. Before that, Jesper held leadership roles at Parallels, Symantec, Google and NetIQ.