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Transfers Will End

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 20/11/2000

The issue of the abolition of transfer fees is set to make the news again as the European Commission tightens the noose around the necks of officials from Fifa and Uefa.

A report by the Observer's Denis Campbell states that Brussels has effectively told football's governing bodies to stop trying to retain much of the current system and to come up with some truly radical changes. A radical change to the market place for players seems ever more certain. Players' contracts are most likely to be limited to a single year.

Longer contracts will be of no benefit to the club: players will be able to walk away from longer contracts and clubs will be left paying the wages of players they no longer want.

The European Commission regards the transfer system as illegal and gained public attention following the Perugia case that went before the European Court. The Italian side's initial refusal to pay for a new signing even though the player was still under contract to another European club ended in the courts. Finding in favour of Perugia, the courts determined that the transfer system contravened the free movement of trade and infringed the employment law enshrined within the Treaty of Rome.

In 'Vive la EU', I put forward that although the inevitable abolition of transfer fees was a step into the unknown, it is unlikely to have a significantly adverse affect on small clubs such as Grimsby Town. With some simple safeguards that are prevalent in other sports, a chaotic free for all can be avoided.

Smaller clubs do receive income from transfer fees but in the rat race of transfer fees and players wages, it is an illusion to believe that they are the greatest beneficiaries.

The larger the club, the greater the overall benefits to them from the existing system and the wider the divide becomes between the rich and the poorer. Removal of the restricted practice of transfer fees and all clubs will be able to offer realistic wages to players and will not be tempted into artificially inflating salaries to keep a financial 'asset'.

In a letter to the Fifa general secretary, Micheal Zen Ruffenin, the EC competition commissioner, Mario Monti dismisses the joint Fifa-Uefa proposals submitted last month as unacceptable. The letter, exposed in the Observer, makes clear that the EC is insisting that any new proposals must comply with the spirit of free movement within European employment law enabling players to exit from contracts just like workers in any other industry.

The article continues in Part Two

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