x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Holding out for the next hero

Alan Hansen is convinced that the new Emirates NBD's Hero Global Football Fund will return a sound profit.

Alan Hansen believes the Hero Global Football Fund will nurture talented youngsters in the same mould as England strikers Michael Owen, left, and Wayne Rooney, who broke through at an early age.
Alan Hansen believes the Hero Global Football Fund will nurture talented youngsters in the same mould as England strikers Michael Owen, left, and Wayne Rooney, who broke through at an early age.

DUBAI // Alan Hansen is convinced that the new Emirates NBD's Hero Global Football Fund will return a sound profit - and produce some real talent for the future. If Emirates NBD needed any more encouragement - other than the nine league titles and three European Cups on his CV - to make Hansen the face of their new football-focused, credit-crunching, investment scheme, then his passion for the project must have swayed them.

Throw in two other highly respected figures from the game, the former executive director of the FA, David Davies OBE, and the ex-referee David Elleray, and the project seems entirely bullet-proof. Which is handy, given that the scheme sails close to the ill wind term third-party ownership. The fund has been set up to recruit young players from around the world, with a view to making a substantial profit by selling the players' registrations and other benefits, such as image rights, to professional clubs.

It may sound like the sort of arrangement that caused so much controversy in the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano affair. However, Hansen, one of the fund's three member advisory board, says the scheme is the scheme is "totally transparent and above board". "The fund will take a stake but won't have any say in what is happening with the player," he added. "It has been through the regulators and everyone is happy. In the current climate, football clubs will be delighted that somebody is funding a percentage of the players they are bringing in."

Further value for the potential investor's money can be found in the process of vetting the players, which is conducted by the former England manager Glenn Hoddle. The fund has a stake in Hoddle's academy, which is based in Spain and specialises in taking on young players who have been released by their clubs. "If the fund wants to take a player, instead of going in blind, Hoddle can do a check on that player," adds Hansen. "If the fund take a player then Hoddle can check that firstly he can play and secondly he is authentic.

"Every year a huge percentage of players are lost to football. At 15 or 16 everyone around you thinks you are going to be a big superstar and your family think you are going to sign for Chelsea or Manchester United. "Then suddenly at 18 you are released and it is a blow. Unless you are a Maradona, a Wayne Rooney or maybe Michael Owen, who all made it big at 17, it is very difficult to tell how a player is going to develop.

I didn't get into the Liverpool team until I was 22. I was a late developer. There is a lot of talent that is being lost to the game. "The theory is that Hoddle takes those players, gives them good coaching and the fund takes a percentage of the player, and when they sell them on that is how the fund makes its money." pradley@thenational.ae