Row over Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo 'shows the monster of third-party ownership'

President of Sporting Lisbon says it risks exposing the sport to match-fixing

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The Independent Online

The president of Sporting Lisbon, angered by a dispute over the club’s sale of defender Marcos Rojo to Manchester United, has declared that third-party ownership of players is a “monster that is living in almost all clubs” and risks exposing the sport to match-fixing.

Sporting are in a state of open war with Rojo’s third-party owners, Doyen Sports, who are demanding millions of the club’s £16m income from the sale. Bruno de Carvalho accused the company of touting Rojo around Europe over the club’s head and hit out at third-party owners – banned in British football – because the opaque ownership structure of the companies who take a financial stake in players created the risk that games could be manipulated by them. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Doyen Sports.

“Many times there are similar owners from the funds and gambling companies so match-fixing is the worst fear now for football,” De Carvalho said. “Everybody’s seeing the problem. We need to have a very serious discussion with everybody very quickly because we cannot discuss for years whether it is to end or whether it is to regulate.”

De Carvalho’s attack on Doyen revealed how far from resolution the Rojo-United deal is. Doyen argued that they loaned Sporting €4m (£3.2m) for a 75 per cent share of Rojo. But De Carvalho said the club’s lawyers had deemed the contract null and void because it granted Doyen unreasonable powers. De Carvalho added that Doyen had been reimbursed their loan.

Doyen last night strongly refuted De Carvalho’s claim the contract was null and void, accusing him of “reneging on a bona fide contract that the club have signed”.

Doyen said in a statement: “We categorically do not manage or influence the player and we ensure that is written into every contract we have with the club.”

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