The better the consultant’s contacts, the better the chances of a good contract. This principle has come into play again now that the transfer window has opened and many out-of-contract professional footballers are looking for a new club. Those who cannot return to a suitable interest group will quickly fall down the stairs and be without an employer in the new season. Former pro René Adler wants to change that system.
The former national team goalkeeper wants to help players be more self-determined in the transfer market. “I know that during my career I wasn’t aware of all the opportunities that could be given to me, and that’s not a reproach. Even an agent can’t have the best contact with every club in the world,” he says in conversation with SPORTBUZZER, the sports portal of the publishing network Germany (RND). That’s how it is for many professional footballers. “They depend on third parties and become pawns of the system.”
That’s why the 37-year-old founded the start-up 11TransFAIR together with his friend Daniel Schollmeier after his active career. A matching platform for players and clubs – something of a cross between a dating app and a property portal. “To act independently, a footballer would have to pick up the phone and contact the clubs. But nobody does that,” Adler said. “Also, I usually lack the right contacts to know where there is a need. There is no platform in football like there is in real estate, for example, where I can simply enter the desired criteria and then see what the market has to offer for me ».
And this is exactly the basic idea: footballers and clubs from the 1st to the 4th league define what they are looking for and receive a comprehensive overview of the market – initially anonymously. For example, a player can see which profile a team is currently looking for. Using data-driven algorithms, a “match” is created and after deciding to de-anonymize, contacts can be made and transfer conversations can begin.
Adler: “By no means the enemy of consultants”
However, the platform is not meant to be a declaration of war on the consulting industry, some of which have fallen into disrepute. “We are in no way an enemy of consultants,” the Leipzig native clarifies. Instead, it sees its platform as a complementary tool. The goal is not for a player to act alone from now on and independently negotiate their contracts. “It’s mainly about pointing out all the possibilities and making contacts yourself. Once that first step is taken, the player can decide for himself whether he wants a confidant – lawyer, father, mother – to help with discussions and negotiations or whether will only go trusts”.
Adler and his team are convinced that the football transfer market, like many other sectors, can be digitized: “In the past, there were only real estate agents and no one could imagine an online platform. There are no longer agents with a bigger network than the major online platforms.” The founders’ hope: to create more transparency in a field that is opaque to many.
Adler would like the same level of transparency during game days. “I blindly gave some things to other people out of faith and naivety,” he recalls. The biggest lesson of his career, spent at Bayer Leverkusen, HSV and Mainz 05, is the realization that “as a player you have to sit in the driver’s seat yourself. You should at least have the opportunity to support the people who work with you and because you work, question you and follow you with your money and your career.”
As a professional soccer player, “you’re raised to be comfortable. This convenience is also a business model for many people who can benefit from it.” Of course, everyone can decide for themselves what they want others to do, “but then you can’t complain when your money is gone or you hoped for more from your career.”
However, the start-up did not arise out of frustration with his career path. “They will judge me and blame someone else for not playing for him or the club. But I haven’t had a chance to anonymously check the market or point out to clubs without the media attention that goalkeeper René Adler is currently looking for. a new challenge”. He would like to play abroad again. “However, there was no such possibility, but I do not know for what reasons.” He wants to save today’s professionals from this uncertainty.