As the European football transfer window draws to an exciting end, we begin to see those frantic last minute dashes to sign multimillion pound players. But believe it or not, some of these mega-deals could hang on a piece of rather antiquated technology.
With all these slick deals, big fees and quick turnarounds, it might surprise you that the technology behind football transfers is actually quite old.In fact, the unsung hero of deadline day transactions is the humble fax machine…
That’s right, the ’90s tech mainstay, almost extinct in the real world, can still be the pivotal factor in a last minute deal to purchase your beloved Brazilian starlet before the window slams shut.
Why do they need all this paper?
So, before a player can actually participate legally in games for the team, he needs to register with the league. Clubs must submit a huge amount of paperwork to the league that documents everything about the transfer, player and contract. This can rack up to being hundreds of sheets of paper before the league can accept the player as registered to play.
Many of the documents are pretty innocuous, but others are crucial to the transfer. These documents would include contracts, Visas/international clearance, birth certificates, transfer fees and a whole raft of things needed to prove the deal is legitimate to both the league and in many cases, the Home Office.
Fax is used to send the more abstract documents that are not usually logged to a system. Foreign birth certificates, work permits and previous visas are a good example of this.
A Fax, really?
This faxing process is still used as it is simply quicker than the other option of scanning documents. To electronically scan something, you need to scan/copy each document individually, collect it together and email the resulting files. A fax cuts out the middle of this process and is sent direct to the recipient.
If you’ve only got 5 minutes to send a Peruvian birth certificate to the FA a fax is likely the quickest option. The procedure seems quite outdated but is amazingly, for some documents, is still the most efficient process.
How about Email?
It’s not the ’80s anymore so not all aspects of deals are made by fax. Email is used to send the bulk of documents that can be easily pinged back and fourth, as it is quicker.
However documents that need to be copied, like signed contracts, annotated papers and certificates are often sent via fax. These documents are a critical part of the paperwork needed by the league to register a player.
So there you go, transfers can still hang on a humble fax getting through.