The prices of players over the past 25 years have taken a leap. That began in 1993 when Reda Abdulaal moved from Zamalek to Al Ahly for EGP 625,000. This year, the deal to move Mohamed Salah from Enppi to Al Ahly reached $42m. Moreover, the salaries of players reached up to EGP 40m, paid by Zamalek to Abdullah Said in the deal for a free transfer that was not sealed after extending the player’s contract with Al Ahly.
Daily News Egypt spoke with individuals involved in the transfers to understand the reasons behind the increases.
Club administrations are to blame
Nader El-Sayed is the former goalkeeper of Egypt’s team. He currently has a marketing company for players. He believes the main reason for the increase in prices are the administrations of clubs that can make decisions worth millions of pounds and then easily leave their positions without any supervision once they file their resignation or finish their four-year terms.
He demanded creating separate administrations in clubs, so that each administration would handle a specific activity. The state must also have laws to hold these administrations accountable for what they spend.
Al Ahly, Zamalek to blame
Mohamed Meslhy, the chairperson of Ittihad Alexandria Club, said that Zamalek and Al Ahly are the ones to blame for the price increase. What both clubs spend to buy players does not match at all their current value, even after the liberalisation of the exchange rate. This threatens clubs like Ismaily SC and Al Ittihad Alexandria who do not have the same abilities as Al Ahly and Zamalek.
Meselhy believes that in order to overcome the issue, the number of players participating in the league must be reduced to 25 on clubs’ lists, and contracts should be signed with players whose deals ended with clubs’ “free transfer deals.”
Demand, supply govern transfers
Samir Halbia, the chairperson of El-Masry SC, does not believe there is an issue with the prices of players, as the market is governed by supply and demand. Each club has the right to support its team with the best elements available.
He said that his club deals with the price change through using new elements from the youth sector and investing in the team when it is young by selling them for large prices to clubs that want them.
Investments are reason for price increases
Yahia Ali is the most famous player agent in Egypt. He was always accused of being one of the reasons behind the price increase because of his mediation in the transfer of Salah Mohsen from Enppi to Al Ahly, and Hussein El-Shahat from Misr Lel-Makkasa SC to the Emirati Al Ain.
He defended himself by saying that all he does is bring European offers for distinct players, which makes Al Ahly and Zamalek propose similar offers—something players prefer, in order to stay in Egypt.
He added that the reason for the price increase is the entry of Gulf countries into Egypt with large prices over EGP 30m, as was the case with Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim known as “Kahraba” and Moustafa Fathy, leading clubs to buy new players to replace them. With the announcement of prices, clubs begin to ask for large amounts of cash. All of these things are categorised as investments in players, enhanced by the presence of cash liquidity in clubs with people like Turkey Al Shaikh as a supporter of Al Ahly, and Mortada Mansour who has the ability to provide financial resources for Zamalek.
Ali noted that at some point, prices will decline again. This will happen when clubs stop paying large amounts of money, which will make sellers settle for lower prices.
Pound flotation is main reason for high prices
Rehab Aborgela, former member of Zamalek’s board of directors, said that there are two reasons for the increases. The first is the eternal conflict between Al Ahly and Zamalek to add players and considering deals a sort of a competition.
The second reason is the flotation of the Egyptian pound, which increased the values of player in Egyptian pounds.
Guilty Gulf market
As one of the most famous players agent, Mohamed Sheha said that the Gulf market is guilty for the price increase, especially after the success by Mohamed Abdulshafi in Saudi Arabia, as well as Kahraba, which opened the door for the transfer of Essam El-Hadary, Moustafa Fathy, Shikabala, Momen Zakaria, Ahmed El Sheikh, Amr Barakat, Hussein El Sayed, and Mohamed Atwa.
Sheha stressed that Al Ahly and Zamalek spoiled football in Egypt and put themselves in a corner by increasing the value of transferring players. It became a competition governed by their fear from the fans on social media. This clearly threatens other clubs that do not have the same financial abilities as Zamalek and Al Ahly.
He added that in order to get out of this tough situation, it is important to specify a maximum salary for players, hence, prices can be controlled in a way that does not let them increase beyond the value of a player’s actual ability.