VietNamNet Bridge – The footballer-transfer market is considered a big hindrance for the development of Vietnam’s football. How has this market operated in the last eight years?
In 2003, Minh Phuong moved from Saigon Port FC to Dong Tam Long An FC at
the transfer price of VND400 million (around $30,000).
In 2003, Minh Phuong moved from Saigon Port FC to Dong Tam Long An FC at the price of VND400 million (around $30,000). This was the record high price at that time. Eight years later, the record price belongs to midfielder Phuoc Tu, who left Thanh Hoa FC to Saigon Xuan Thanh at the transfer fees of VND12 billion ($600,000).
In the first two V-Leagues, no domestic player was transferred. Minh Phuong was the first case. After that affair, Trinh Xuan Thanh and Truong Giang moved from Hai Phong and Tien Giang FCs to Binh Duong FC. Truong Giang made a new record with transfer fee of VND1.2 billion (around $80,000), to become the most expensive player at that time (except for foreign players).
By 2006, Truong Giang’s record was still not broken because the most expensive affair of Trung Kien, who left Nam Dinh FC to Southern Steel – Saigon Port FC, at the price of VND1.2 billion.
Two years later, in 2008, Trung Kien and Truong Giang’s record was broken by Le Cong Vinh, who is considered the most brilliant star in Vietnam after the ASEAN Football Cup 2008. Cong Vinh left Song Lam Nghe An FC to Hanoi T&T with a three-year contract, transfer fees of VND7 billion ($360,000) and VND50 million ($2,600) of monthly pay.
Cong Vinh’s record held for a year. In 2009, Vissai Ninh Binh signed a contract with midfielder Nhu Thanh of Binh Duong FC, under which this FC paid Nhu Thanh VND8 billion ($420,000).
The same year, Vissai Ninh Binh bought striker Viet Thang from Dong Tam Long An, at the price of VND6 billion ($320,000) for a two-year contract.
At the end of V-League 2010, a new record was made. Midfielder Le Phuoc Tu left Thanh Hoa FC to Saigon Xuan Thanh with a three-year contract, worth VND12 billion ($600,000). He has become the most expensive football player in Vietnam so far.
This record is said to not remain for a long time. Striker Le Cong Vinh has just refused to play for Slavia Praha FC from the Czech Republic and the $10,000 monthly wage of Muang Thong FC (Thailand) to play at the V-League 2012.
Cong Vinh and Hanoi T&T are negotiating a new contract, which is believed to make a new record of transfer price. Not only Hanoi T&T, but also Saigon Xuan Thanh, Navibank Sagion and Song Lam Nghe An FCs want to buy Cong Vinh, who is valued at VND15 billion ($700,000).
After V-League 2011, the first big contract was signed between striker Tang Tuan, who left Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC to Binh Duong in three years with VND8 billion ($400,000) of transfer fee.
Football investors ask VFF’s intervention
Midfielder Le Phuoc Tu left Thanh Hoa FC to Saigon Xuan Thanh with
a three-year contract, worth VND12 billion ($600,000) in late 2010.
As prices for players are much higher than players’ qualification, football investors have asked the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to issue regulations on football transfer.
Doan Nguyen Duc, Chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC, said that 5-6 years ago, all the games of V-League attracted thousands of fans because players always played football at their best and referees did their job honestly. At that time, FCs invested only several billion dong (several hundreds of thousands USD) in their teams a year.
Now, annual investment is VND60-70 billion ($3-4 million) but the number of fans is dropping. Duc said that football players now play football for cash. If FCs do not offer high rewards, they do not want to play. “The transfer price of football players is towering, but the VFF does not have any regulations to control,” Duc said.
He cited an example: striker Tang Tuan was trained by Hoang Anh Gia Lai. Recently he asked to have VND3 billion ($150,000) to stay with the team. When Binh Duong FC offered VND8 billion, he left Hoang Anh Gia Lai immediately.
“I allowed him to go because that price is unacceptable. I did not want to compete that way. Binh Duong or Hanoi T&T cannot have more money than me, but why did I not to compete with them? Because it could cause chaos,” he added.
Duc said that VFF needs to issue regulations on footballer transfer, for instance if a player is punished by FC A, other FCs are not allowed to buy that player.
Dong Tam Long An FC suffered the most from the uncontrolled football transfer market. This club bought Minh Phuong from Saigon Port at the record high price of VND400 million in 2003. However, seven years later, Minh Phuong was bought at the price of VND5 billion ($250,000) by Da Nang FC, though he was older. Tai Em and Viet Thang also left Dong Tam FC for money.
“I do not understand why a football player is priced at VND2 billion now, but the price soars to VND10 billion next month,” Thang questioned.
Hanoi ACB Club’s Chair, Nguyen Duc Kien, agreed with Thang and Duc that the prices for Vietnamese football players are over the qualification of players.
“I have not bought any player in recent years. I only use young players because the transfer prices are too high. This is the responsibility of the VFF and the V-League organizing board”, Kien said.
VFF’s Vice Chair, Le Hung Dung, agreed that the transfer prices highly exceed the qualification of players and the social balance. However, he said that this situation is caused by FCs themselves. FCs have competed with each other to buy stars, which have pushed the transfer prices to the sky.
According to Dung, VFF tries to create a fair playing ground but purchasing football players are commercial contracts among FCs, so it cannot intervene in.
Why transfer price rockets?
From the landmark of the football transfer market – Minh Phuong moved from Saigon Port FC to Dong Tam Long An at the price of VND400 million in 2003, the transfer price has skyrocketed. The current record belongs to Phuoc Tu, who moved from Thanh Hoa FC to Saigon Xuan Thanh FC with the price of VND12 billion last year. Thus, after six to eight years, the transfer price grew 30 times.
Senior coach Tran Van Phuc analyzed why the transfer price galloped: “For entrepreneurs, investment must yield profit. To have good results, they need to have good players. But there are not many good players. Why Vietnam lacks excellent players?”
“Let’s see the training systems of clubs. How many FCs in Vietnam that have systematic training systems? Not many, only Song Lam Nghe An, Nam Dinh, Dong Thap, Da Nang and recently Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Hanoi T&T. There are FCs which have to buy all players, for instance Hanoi T&T, Navibank Saigon, Ninh Binh and Saigon Xuan Thanh. Over demand is the biggest reason.”
Phuc’s opinion is supported by other experts. Forteen FCs of the V-League are professional teams, but not all of them are determined to invest in football in the long run like Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
In 2008, Hai Phong Cement FC stirred up the football transfer market by billion VND affairs. But Hai Phong Cement Company said goodbye to the team in 2011. The team’s players felt something missing because they were familiar to big bonuses and high salary.
Hoa Phat Hanoi group joined the First Division tournament since 2004 but it gave up football recently. Before Hoa Phat Hanoi, Viettel, East Asia Bank, Southern Steel, Lotus Steel companies stopped investing in football after a short period of time.
Even when Vietnam lacks good players, the transfer price for Phuoc Tu (VND12 billion) is too high in comparison with Phuoc Tu’s qualification.
Ninh Binh FC’s Chairman, Hoang Manh Truong, explained “Players claim a billion VND, but how much do they receive in fact? I want to speak about the role of brokers. In Vietnam, unlicensed brokers are swaying the market. They push the transfer price up to the sky but FCs have to follow them because they need good players. My club was a victim of this trick. Believing in Tran Tien Dai (who is considered the most powerful football broker in Vietnam), Ninh Binh FC was a market once. Such persons like Dai are destroying Vietnam’s football.”
Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC’s Chairman, Doan Nguyen Duc, said “The VFF – the most powerful football management agency in Vietnam, almost pays no attention to this. Brokers play many tricks to make FCs miserable. Hoang Anh Gia Lai will never follow unreal values.”
“The transfer price is imaginary. People may say that I’m miserable, but I do not throw my money through the window by purchasing football players this way,” said Hanoi ACB FC’s Chairman, Nguyen Duc Kien.
Senior coach Tran Van Phuc, said that only when FCs invest in football methodologically and VFF set specific rules on football transfer, management of football players and players themselves to be professional, this situation may end.
Tran Tien Dai – “greatest” football agency in Vietnam
VietNamNet Bridge – Dai is the broker for almost all foreign football players in Vietnam. He is also the representative for many Vietnamese players and the broker for largest football transfer affairs in Vietnam.
Dai is called the “super broker” in Vietnam’s football world.
Dai was used as a player of HCM City Police team. However, he was not widely known as a footballer since he was only a reserve player. He did not play football well but he has good relations with colleagues. Giving up football, he studied English and aimed to be a coach but he failed.
Dai is known as one of the first football agency in Vietnam. In 2006, the Vietnam Football Federation organized the first competition for football agencies to earn FIFA’s certificate. Dai and Nguyen Hoang Nguyen were the two competitors and both of them failed. Without FIFA’s license, Dai was actually the agency of almost all foreign players in Vietnam.
At that time, the source of supply was limited. Dai had to seek players from Africa and Brazil to supply to local clubs. Thanks to his good relations with football clubs, he added his players to many clubs at V-League and the First Division tournament.
In the first several years, Dai’s players were not praised for qualification. After Francis Clement, from Cameroon, died while being tested at the Military Zone 4 club, some clubs did not want to buy football players from Dai.
However, thanks to the shining of several Brazilian and Nigerian players, for example Samson Kayode, Timothy and Lazaro, recommended by Dai, this broke has become famous.
Dai has also become the agency of many Vietnamese players. Thanks to Dai’s well-spoken skill, many Vietnamese players were sold at very high prices. Most of the most expensive football affairs in Vietnam are arranged by Dai, including Nhu Thanh-Viet Thang with Ninh Binh FC (VND8 billion - $400,000 each), Phuoc Tu and Saigon Xuan Thanh FC (VND12 billion).
Dai is said to be very good at “blowing up” the transfer price and claim high commissions. However, players still want to have Dai as their agent because only Dai can claim for high transfer price. It is rumored that the transfer price of Phuoc Tu is VND12 billion, but he received only VND8 billion.
In 2009, Dai became executive director of Ninh Binh FC. During his two years there, he turned Ninh Binh into a “football player transit centre”. Some called Ninh Binh FC a market of football players where Dai is the director. Dai was fired by Ninh Binh’s Chairman, Hoang Manh Truong, who commented that “people like Dai are destroying Vietnam’s football.”
Some FCs have boycotted Dai, saying that this man is a wheeler-dealer, who pushes up the transfer price. An example is the case of Samson Kayode. Dai negotiated with two local clubs - Binh Duong and Hanoi T&T FCs to sell Kayode. However, at the same time, he also negotiated with Aletico Madrid. Aletico Madrid agreed to recruit Kayode without paying transfer fees. But Kayode must stay in Vietnam to play for Hanoi T&T since he received $900,000 of transfer fees for three years. However, Kayode said that he received only several tens of thousands USD for a year, the remaining belongs to his agency.
Dai is now executive director of Saigon Xuan Thanh FC and also works as a football agent.