Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 22nd, Sep

This week Heathrow launched a multi-point vision for the future and initiated a campaign to the government for the elimination of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights.

It’s easy to become cynical about the case surrounding the UK’s recognised hub airport. It’s proposed third runway has had so many false dawns that any semblance of progress is greeted with a collective “yeah, right” rather than the anticipation one would expect.

APD is an impediment to domestic air travel. It is levied on the carriage of chargeable passengers from a UK airport on chargeable aircraft. It is calculated based upon distance from London and is split into bands – domestic connections incur a cost of £13 per person in standard class. Such costs are substantial when aggregated upwards and impair the competitiveness of aircraft operating domestic flights and particularly those at airports within close proximity to airports in devolved areas where APD has been waived.

Heathrow’s campaign is important in maintaining the focus of our region upon the support provided for Heathrow’s third runway, made on the contingent basis that regional airport landing slots are provided to the likes of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, providing a direct flight to and from the nation’s capital and times favourable to business.

The Chamber has frequently lobbied and expressed its support for a better transport deal for business, most recently concerning the freight access via road to the Port of Liverpool and rail connectivity across the North. This weeks announcement from the Department for Transport that the next stage of HS2 must contain a provision for Northern Powerhouse Rail was extremely positive.

Yet it is the multi-modal access to and from the City of Liverpool that must be pursued as the end goal. Heathrow expansion may be deemed a disproportionate benefit to the South East but, in our view, it enhances our capacity for transport connectivity to London and global destinations. The latest campaign to tackle the additional costs of APD is a step in the right direction in eliminating our barriers to transport growth and access.

See also: Chamber & LJLA welcome Heathrow Air Passenger Duty Proposal

 

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 15th, Sep

Last week it was announced that I'd been appointed as the Chief Executive of the Chamber and I want to use my blog this week to make a request. We need you to tell us what you want from us.

The Chamber of Commerce for Liverpool and Sefton has a key role to play with local, regional and national partners to create a city region where businesses want to invest, relocate, export and start up.

Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce will remain a private-sector led organisation which provides access to the largest, best and most diverse network of businesses and talent in the city region. In addition to helping to stimulate intra-member business, we will represent the collective interests of our members and ensure you receive the information and market intelligence to prosper in these complex times.

In particular, we will be working with members to ensure they are prepared for the outcome of Brexit negotiations, have a clear voice in the campaign for improving infrastructure in the North and are at the forefront of an insatiable desire to improve the delivery of skills to citizens in the City Region.

I have made a commitment to contact and arrange meetings with all of our member businesses before the turn of the year. It is essential that as a members-funded Chamber that we are providing the services, representation and information that your business needs.

Consider the following and let us know:

1.       How can the Chamber of Commerce tangibly support your business objectives?

2.       What are the biggest issues impacting upon your business either now or in the coming twelve months?

3.       As a member, what one thing could the Chamber of Commerce do to generate the maximum benefit from your company’s membership?

We've got some great things coming up - our Annual Dinner on 2nd November, the arrival of some new faces in the business, an exciting 'Marketing Power Hour' programme, the reforming of our Members Council and the introduction of a refreshed membership offer. 

I’m extremely grateful for the support organisations have provided to the Chamber through investment in membership and I hope that we are reciprocating that support with value. If we aren’t, you're in the best place to help us shape a Chamber of Commerce that works for business.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 08th, Sep

The announcement of Birmingham’s successful nomination as the UK’s location for the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be a disappointment for many in Liverpool, but it’s certainly not a cataclysmic setback. It should, however, focus the attention on the important times ahead for our business community.

It was perhaps appropriate that whilst the news of the outcome broke via Twitter, I joined the launch of the Institute for Civil Engineer’s ‘Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy’, where the fundamental priorities for the North’s economy were detailed and proposals for a Council of the North were re-asserted.

As with the multitude of other studies undertaken in recent times, the lack of infrastructure investment in the North vis a vis the national average, the disturbing skills shortage and lack of connectivity between Northern conurbations, remains clearly demonstrable and quantifiable through the detailed studies undertaken.

Yet, there must be a political will to enable the delivery of transformational programmes to avoid such studies becoming doorstops. The devolution deal struck with Government must be built upon and the status of the Metro Mayor must be elevated to the figurehead role it was intended to be. This requires resources, power and mandate. We will never know whether the 2022 bid could have been improved with a Metro Mayor leading like in Birmingham (recognising the colour of his political allegiance), but we now require an ‘all or nothing’ position concerning the Metro Mayor model – the halfway house position cannot achieve the longer-term objectives.

So, whilst the failure to land 2022 is a shame, perhaps it will focus the attention on the ‘big stuff’ that is coming down the tracks – additional port access for freight movement in Liverpool, investment in transport and digital infrastructure and investment in a fundamental shift in skills delivery.

These objectives are perhaps more valuable to our business and economic prospects over the longer term. The business voice is a key element in the formulation of strategic and operational plans, as is collaboration between the regions in the North to agglomerate its economic strength and create the strong environment for business that is required for longer term prosperity.

So if 2022 lacks the short term boost of a fortnight’s sporting competition, let us aspire for a greater focus on what our region needs for longer term benefit and ensure we use the result as a spur to get on and do it.

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Posted by Terry Dray

Director Graduate Advancement and Employer Engagement, Liverpool John Moores University

Fri 01st, Sep

In a turbulent higher education and graduate recruitment landscape a strategic imperative is to re-vision approaches to career support. Fundamental to this is for university careers teams to optimise relationships with stakeholders - let us call them partners, to create more tailored careers support, focus on engagement and prioritise smart use of data to inform professional practice.

Employers want graduates with the right blend of skills and attributes so they can hit the ground running. However, the skills gap continues to be a challenge. The Association of Graduate Recruiters 2017 winter survey showed 52% of respondents were not able to fill all their vacancies. Students rightly want successful outcomes from their investment in higher education. Some demonstrate consumerist behaviors, expecting services that mirror those received on the high street or online. These increasingly include a choice of different ways to engage that are tailored to the individual. In order to provide career development support and services that are fit for purpose it is vital that these are informed by and co-developed with partners, not least students and employers.

At Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) over the past 7 years, we have seen unemployment fall and those obtaining graduate level jobs and postgraduate study increase. The LJMU Careers Team systematically works with students, academics and employers as critical friends to co-design and co-evaluate provision. Discussing student affinity with our Student Advisory Panel led us to move away from producing a single, one size fits all, annual Career Planning Guide. We now produce 14 Guides - one for each academic school, collaborating with students, employers and academics in doing so. The greater sense of affinity with the guides has been notable.

Meeting with our Employer Advisory Group 3 times a year helps us to better understand recruitment challenges, transition pathways and the complexities of the “graduate market”. We meet for 2 hours and at each meeting we consider 2 different discussion questions, for example how to best use social media to attract students, how degree apprenticeships will affect hiring practices, whether careers fairs are still effective for employers etc.

In all our interactions with students there is a need to tailor the approach. Understanding more about student affinity with academic subjects, occupations, industrial sectors, location preferences and lifestyle helps us to engage them by providing more bespoke services and resources. This approach also includes running focused fairs and events, for example, for pharmacists, engineers, nurses and midwives, accountants, sports industry professionals etc.

LJMU has a large student community and multiple sites. This has led us to re-vision how we offer career support in physical locations. Being committed to offering students this support where and when they want it, we are developing a “hub and spoke” model and set on a course to develop Careers Zones located in areas with high student footfall. A new Student Life Building will house a Careers Zone and act as the hub from 2019. The Careers Zones have resulted in many more students accessing career support and also meeting employers as we actively encourage employers to connect with students at the Zones.

Our re-visioning sees us focusing on many priorities and these are just some. As the turbulence continues it is imperative to operate strategically and optimise partnerships, particularly with employers, to grasp what they want from the Careers Team and our students and graduates.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 18th, Aug

This week finally resulted in the most pressing trade issue surrounding Brexit coming to the fore – membership of the Customs Union and the implications for trade, specifically the movement of goods across borders.

There is no doubt that Chambers of Commerce have identified the issue as one of considerable concern and consternation. The rhetoric concerning the UK’s negotiating position during the initial Brexit discussions had failed to identify the key fundamental principles under which the UK envisaged such trade being undertaken. Several of our members who export their goods to – or import raw materials from the EU - had already identified fundamental concerns regarding the anticipated costs they will incur without a favourable customs arrangement.

This week it was announced that there are fundamentally two options envisaged by the UK government for the post Brexit customs arrangements:

1. A highly streamlined customs arrangement with a simplified system – using technology – to speed up the passing of goods through ports
2. Establishment of a new customs partnership with the EU that would remove any customs border and essentially enable the maintenance of UK customs union membership benefits whilst independently negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries.

The movement towards understanding a longer term operating model is welcome news but it remains true that it is only a negotiating position at this stage. Also, there are fundamental differences between the practical applications of both options that will need to be addressed.

The potential of a transitional deal muddies the water further. Though eminently sensible in principle, the potential for a ‘hard Brexit’ with the technology-driven ‘light touch’ customs arrangement would be massively complex to manage given the investment required for the development of such technology and the affordability for organisations using it to transport their goods, particularly smaller companies. A transitional deal could cause the adjustment costs of such development to be prohibitive for all concerned.

The further announcements this week confirming the maintenance of an open border arrangement between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland “at the heart” of the UK’s exit negotiations is undoubtedly welcome but again, from a movement of trade perspective, adds further questions regarding the trade status of Northern Ireland and its access to the mainland UK.

All of this context comes as the British Chambers of Commerce/DHL trade confidence index results were issued yesterday revealing the maintenance of a strong performance in the most recent quarter but an increasing level of concern regarding exchange rates, access to skilled workers and price pressures.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) International Trade Summit on Thursday 12th October will address several of these issues and provide businesses with some clarity regarding the implications of Brexit. BCC are also seeking first hand experiences of member companies in this negotiating period and their expectations regarding a post-Brexit trade impact to enable the use of qualitative evidence to be provided to government with the existing quantitative data.

Contact membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Posted by Bagnall & Morris

Thu 17th, Aug

A more efficient waste management strategy could be the key to saving your business money. Rather than viewing waste as costly but necessary problem, taking a step back and looking at potential improvements could enhance your organisation’s environmental and financial performance.

Here are some of B&M’s top tips to help you achieve this –

Know what waste you produce

It’s easy to assume that your business will produce ‘general’ and ‘recyclable’ waste, but to tailor the right solution, at the right cost, you need to understand the actual type, quantity and source of waste generated at your business premises.

Whatever the size of your business, take the time to look at the waste going into your general waste containers. You might be surprised at how much recyclable material is mixed in there.

Embed practical recycling processes

By seeing what areas of your business produce what waste, you can modify the waste storage provisions to segregate more recyclate and reduce the more costly general waste collections.

Are the bins situated in a practical location? Are they clearly signposted? Is your recyclable waste being cross-contaminated with other substances? Does everyone have a desk bin that makes it too easy to mix the contents?

You need to have the right storage facilities available and ensure that all members of staff buy-in to their obligations.      

Minimise the amount of waste you generate

Once you have assessed the type, volume and source of the waste streams, you can also find ways to minimise waste. This may involve rolling out a company-wide waste minimisation campaign, for example by encouraging people to print less paper, reuse their coffee cups, and wash out containers to remove food residue.

Speak to an expert

Now that you have garnered a better understanding of your waste, speak to a commercial waste management company who can advise on an effective strategy that is bespoke to your requirements.

Perhaps you have enough of a particular commodity to bale the material and generate revenue, or could use a compactor to reduce general waste transport and disposal costs. We can use the data you have collated to help determine if this is the case.

Contact B&M today to arrange a free waste audit so that one of our experts can put forward a custom-made no obligation proposal.

0330 1234 100  |  www.bagnallandmorris.com

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Posted by Claudia Font

Gunnercooke

Wed 16th, Aug

Have you lost your deposit money on an Off-Plan Property in Spain?

Up to 100,000 UK investors who lost money when buying off plan in Spain could be entitled to claim their money back (plus interests and Court fess) based on a Spanish Supreme Court Decision.

In accordance with Spanish Law -Act. 57/1968-, builders and property developers that received deposit money for off-plan properties in Spain were legally obliged to pay this money into a specific bank account and provide their clients with a bank guarantee.

The purpose of the bank guarantee was to protect those deposits in the event of non-completion or liquidation- but this obligation was frequently breached by builders and property developers and up to 100.000 UK investors lost their money.

During the Spanish property bubble, most of new developments were sold off-plan and with the financial crisis that started in 2008, many developers went bust without finishing their developments and without returning the buyers’ deposits.

However, the aforementioned Act 57/1968 also seems to state that the bank which received the payment could also be held liable if it knew that the account was set up for the purpose of receiving deposit for off-plan properties.

This interpretation of the law was then confirmed on the 21st of December 2015 by the Spanish Supreme Court who made a Decision that gives some new hopes to buyers who have lost their money, saying that banks are obliged to pay investors back for the deposits they paid for their future houses off-plan.

In accordance to the said Decision, which now constitutes case law, banks are responsible, together with the Spanish property developers, for the loss of the deposits paid by Spanish property buyers. And this responsibility is regardless of the solvency status of the developer.

Obviously, it is not a “one-size fits all” approach. Each case needs to be studied separately as there are other factors that need to be considered such as whether the property has been legally finished or not, etc but it is encouraging news for those who invested in off-plan properties in Spain and lost their deposits.

It should be noted that the future off-plan buyers will not have the same protection because a new rule approved by the Spanish Parliament (on the 1st of January of 2016) has revoked Act.57/1968 reducing the bank´s obligations and liabilities to certain case scenarios.

However, this only applies to future purchases. Those who have lost their deposits for purchases made in the last 10-15 years are still entitled to file a claim against the bank. If you had made payments for your off-plan property in Spain before that date, you will be covered by the old, and more protective, rule.

Obviously, there are some requirements that need to be checked to confirm that you have the right to claim your money back. Gunnercooke’s Spanish desk can advise solicitors or their clients as to whether they may have a case against a Spanish bank.

There are many law firms who have been recently approaching prospective clients out of the blue or cold-calling them offering their services on a no win-no fee basis. Those who lost their deposits need to be careful when engaging law firms or companies that are cold-calling them, as those presumably attractive packages and fees may make them jump into instructing a firm or a company that does not have the real expertise to deal with this type of matters.

Also, those sort of fee offers usually come with hidden costs that can prove a burden if the case is not won. As usual, make your own research and comparisons before you instruct a law firm for a litigation case, specially if the matter involves foreign law, and then take an informed decision.

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen Spanish desk gunnercooke llp claudia.font@gunnercooke.com www.gunnercooke.com 1 Cornhill / London / EC3V 3ND 53 King Street / Manchester / M2 4LQ

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 11th, Aug

This week marked the unofficial tenth anniversary of the financial crisis.

I doubt there were too many celebratory parties across the business community but it is perhaps a good time to reflect on the prevailing wake of those mid summer days of 2007 when the collapse of Northern Rock precipitated the subsequent demise of the banking system as we knew it. 

We grew accustomed to periods of profound booms and busts throughout the twentieth century, yet it is telling that this particular collapse continues to resonate so fully today. A decade, it is worth remembering, is a long time and whilst the upheaval in the geo-political world has been monumental, the credit crunch and global financial crisis has remained a tether in people’s conscience and collective memory. “Where were you when Northern Rock went bust?” feels like our equivalent to JFK being shot, such is the ongoing narrative coverage of this epochal moment.

Politicians, economists, journalists, business people continue to speak of the crisis as today’s news, no doubt accentuated by ongoing austerity programmes and a consistent political discourse citing caution over the previous recklessness.

“Events, dear boy, events” was Harold Macmillan’s articulation of a Prime Minister’s principal fear. The 2007 crash was pre-empted by a multitude of factors across multiple continents, including a lax culture of banking regulation, financial institution’s exposure to toxic debt and the insufficient insulation between such institutions which led to the inevitable domino effect.

Alex Brazier’s recent visit to Liverpool enabled him to share his thoughts about the Bank of England’s principal concerns about the current status of the UK economy. Particularly notable was the contention that there are signs that the institutional knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the crash within banks and financial institutions has shown signs of being eroded.

Alex specifically stated that “Lenders have been the lucky beneficiaries of the benign way the economy has evolved. In expanding the supply of credit, they may be placing undue weight on the recent performance of credit cards and loans in benign conditions.” Complacency is creeping in.

The UK economy’s current dependency upon consumer spending (and associated debt) should not fall victim to the ostrich approach. Maintaining a level of incentive to keep us spending on goods is key amid the uncertainty of the Brexit state of flux, but the efforts of government must be to create the conditions within which the wider economy can lessen such dependency upon our personal wallets, particularly as the historic low levels of inflation show signs of increasing.

“Build it and they will come” may not be an economically sound basis to run a sustainable economy, but whilst control measures need to be reasserted within the personal lending markets, a greater commitment to delivering an infrastructure plan – particularly in the North – must be a priority upon the resumption of Parliament in the Autumn. Failure to invest soundly will maintain a flat-lining of economic growth external to the consumer bubble. Chamber members responding to the most recent quarterly economic survey in Liverpool reported a reticence to invest in training or machinery amid the current trading conditions.

Ten years on from the financial crisis, the maintenance of our understanding of its causes remains critical. However, such tacit knowledge and associated safeguards must not suffocate the wider ability of our country and city to grow our economic strength. The prolonged austerity measures pre-empted by the crash remain prevalent, in thought, word and deed. Such a psychosis is inherent to the challenge facing us and is a warning to us that a spiral of underinvestment will ultimately lead to a spiral of economic decline.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Thu 03rd, Aug

The past fortnight has been an extraordinary period of time in the political and economic life of the country. The traditionally quiet end of term tranquillity of July/August in Westminster has borne witness to a remarkable demonstration of text book political squabbling, back-stabbing and general disquiet within the Conservative Government cabinet.

Such schisms are normal within Government, albeit usually kept more private than the very public spat dominating the media in the past week. However, these are deeply concerning times for business and the inability of the Cabinet (let alone Government or the opposition party) to agree and articulate a basic set of principles for Brexit is accentuating the uncertainties for business.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan had called on the Bank of England to provide details of how prepared banks and insurance firms are for Brexit.

Alex Brazier from the Bank of England addressed this very topic at Chamber of Commerce roundtable session last week. Alex confirmed that Brexit is one of four key concerns facing the UK economy and the Bank is undertaking stress testing for all eventualities, with particular focus upon the impact upon financial services in the wake of a ‘hard Brexit’.

Yet in all honesty, it appears nigh on impossible to adequately stress test circumstances that we cannot fully anticipate. One year on from the referendum, there is perhaps even less clarity now than there was then. “Brexit means Brexit” was the soundtrack of winter, yet even the commencement of negotiations between the UK and the European Union has done little to create clarity nor quell key business concerns around access to migrant workers, status of EU citizens living in the UK and favourable access to overseas markets.

Our latest quarterly economic survey results for Liverpool (pre-dating the general election) suggest that investment intentions for the next 12 months are substantially reduced. Resultant growth will be stagnant without the clarity of a way forward.

There is no doubt that businesses will adapt to whatever environment emerges; whether Brexit continues according to the original schedule (or – whisper it – even happens at all), or takes a different form to a hard/soft/slightly spongey texture. Fundamentally, it will be the list of casualties that emerge from the journey that determines how ready businesses are for whatever is coming.

A splintered Cabinet, a fractured political environment, a population that remains largely split over the Brexit process and an economy that remains largely dependent upon the continuation of consumer spending and debt amid a threat of increasing inflation. These are not the traditional factors one associates with periods of economic stability and growth.

Yet in a world where the White House Communications Director can be fired before he has officially begun, perhaps chaos is a perpetual state to which we should become accustomed.

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Posted by Andrew McGregor

Brabners

Tue 01st, Aug

As the transfer window activity intensifies, we want to provide you with an insight into the transactional process which sees a player move from one club to another and highlight some of the main commercial and legal issues for the parties to consider.

The initial process:
After the preliminary conversations setting the scene, a representative of the Buyer Club will often submit a formal offer to the Seller Club for the transfer of the Player's registration from Seller to Buyer. The formal offer is an important piece in the deal process. Whilst the opening offer, and the subsequent counter proposals, should be 'without prejudice and subject to contract' (meaning the preliminary offers and counter offers are only outline terms to be incorporated into a formal transfer agreement), they set the structure for the deal and, often the tone for the negotiation. The preliminary negotiations will cover terms like: guaranteed transfer fee (including any staged payments); and contingent payments (for example: player appearance, player performance, team performance related trigger events and sell on provisions). Clearly, there is a lot to consider in a very limited space of time.

Once the parties have agreed the outline terms of the deal, one party will produce a draft transfer agreement for the other party to consider. The most efficient clubs will always want to be the party to produce the initial draft transfer agreement to allow them to be the party that is negotiating on their own standard terms. Here is where the true value of the preliminary negotiations and offer and acceptance correspondence is realised. If the parties have negotiated carefully, considered and addressed all issues and recorded a clearly written record of the terms agreed in principle, then the formalities of negotiating the content of the transfer document will be a smooth experience. However, if the parties have simply outlined the 'Heads of Terms' in a short email exchange (or even a few scribbles on the back page of a match day programme - which is often the case given the time pressures and irregularity of the times at which parties negotiate) finalising the terms of the transfer document can turn into a stressful and complicated experience.

Negotiation issues:
It is at the point that one party presents its draft transfer document to the other that the parties often find out that they are further apart on the deal than they first thought. Some of the following issues often require further negotiation, agreement and drafting before the transfer agreement can be concluded and executed:

  • How much of the guaranteed transfer fee is to be paid immediately?
  • Is payment of the transfer fee conditional on the Player agreeing personal terms and passing a medical?
  • Is the transfer fee agreed net of any regulatory imposed deductions, expenses, costs and/or levies?
  • Are any player appearance related contingent payments based on 'starts' or 'appearances' and are there any further criteria to satisfy (minutes on the pitch, teams or competitions) which qualify a performance related event by a player as a start or an appearance?
  • Are any team performance related contingent payments based on the player's contribution in a particular season and are those trigger events capable of being repeated during the time that the player is at the club?
  • Is any future sell-on fee payment entitlement attached to the gross amount received by the Subsequent Seller Club (in the subsequent transfer) or is it a net fee related to the excess 'profit' made by the Subsequent Seller Club relevant to the monies it has paid to the Seller Club in the current deal?
  • Are the terms of the deal confidential?
  • Do the parties want to retain a right to approve the other party's press release?

The above is certainly not an exhaustive list of issues to consider and address by the parties to the transaction, however, it might represent some of the common themes in a relatively basic domestic transfer.  Now try to imagine the issues, and potential 'deal breakers' in a complicated international transfer, where respective national regulations and laws need to be factored in, as well as FIFA regulations.

Now you have an understanding of the process, imagine you are a busy Chief Executive of a professional club and the closing of the transfer window is a few days away, primary targets have been missed, players have requested to leave the club and agents are attempting to force through last minute moves for their clients. Moreover the team has lost its last 3 games and supporters are reacting negatively, and you also have the business of a football club to oversee. Even with the best will in the world, the most efficient and prudent club representative might be excused for failing to address a particular issue during the deal making process and, in light of the above, it is easy to see how these relatively small issues might evolve into something that might protract the deal and, potentially, derail it.

We hope you have found this blog interesting. If you are a club representative, player or intermediary wanting to find out more about the transfer process, and how Brabners dedicated sports law team can help you, then please do not hesitate to contact Andrew McGregor

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