Why the A-League must introduce domestic transfer fees

-

The banning of transfer fees between A-League clubs has created an ugly situation, where smaller clubs are often held ransom by contracted players seeking moves to rival clubs. If the A-League is to truly establish itself it must scrap this archaic system and introduce transfer fees.

The A-League was created amidst the old National Soccer League collapse, where clubs frequently dissolved or found themselves in financial trouble.

Within this context, Frank Lowy and the founding fathers of the A-League promised a fairer league, where every club had an equal chance of success.

This pledge came with the introduction of financial restrictions on clubs. One restriction was the banning of transfer fees between A-League teams.

The idea behind this was simple – to stop clubs with wealthy owners poaching talent from smaller clubs at their will.

In theory, this seemed like sound logic.

No fan wants to see a situation like Bayern Munich in Germany’s Bundesliga. Bayern’s strong financial position allows the club to annually pillage the best emerging talent from rival Bundesliga clubs.

Embed from Getty Images

This is an ugly situation which has allowed Bayern to dominate Germany for as long as one can remember.

In recent history, the banning of transfer fees in the A-League has created a murky situation in which players routinely hold their clubs ransom, demanding to be released from their contracts for free to join rival clubs.

Take James Troisi for example.

The Asian Cup winner was a contracted player for Adelaide United for the upcoming season. Despite being told he was a required player, Troisi requested a termination of his contract on the eve of the 2020/21 A-League season so he could sign for Western Sydney Wanderers.

This put Adelaide in a terrible position. No club wants to pay a player who does not want to play for their club.

If there was a domestic transfer fee system, they could have played hardball and demanded a transfer payment from the Wanderers.

In the end they had nothing to gain from having a well-paid, unhappy player in their squad. So they let Troisi leave – for free.

Embed from Getty Images

Adelaide was left with virtually no time to replace him. Their squad was significantly weakened while a rival squad was strengthened. For free.

The rules regarding player contracts are clear: it’s illegal for a contracted player to speak with a rival club without their parent club’s permission.

However, without a domestic transfer fee system, players are finding ways to break contract.

Bernie Ibini was contracted to the Newcastle Jets for the 2020/21 season. At the time, the Jets were in a poor financial situation and the future of the club was in doubt.

Ibini’s agent said he was suffering mentally from this environment and he was granted 10 days sick leave.

After it became clear that Ibini would refuse to play for the club after this period, his contract was terminated with the Jets.

Like Troisi, he immediately joined his new side, the Western Sydney Wanderers, and played in the first game of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna was understandably infuriated his side’s player was able to leave the team just before the season started.

If a contracted player desperately wants to leave and there is a club suited to take them, the new club should have to pay.

After all, does a contract mean anything?

In virtually every other football league, when a contracted player refuses to play for their club under rival interest and the club gives in to their demands, a transfer fee is paid from the new club to the old.

Embed from Getty Images

The A-League needs to get with the times. Without transfer fees between clubs, an A-League contract means nothing.

Why should clubs who have invested considerable time and effort into players, suffer under the operation of an archaic transfer system?

Currently, if a player wants to leave a club for another, then they are almost free to do so at their will.

Smaller clubs such as the Jets have virtually no chance when a big boy team such as the Wanderers come calling for a contracted player.

Transfer fees would give smaller clubs much needed funds which could then be reinvested into club facilities and better youth system development pathways.

This would then allow the club to replace outgoing players with strong emerging youth.

This is a feasible means of operating for a football club and also positive for Australian football as a whole.

Quality youth players, playing first team football is essential for youth development, which filters up to the Socceroos.

Embed from Getty Images

Under the current A-League transfer rules, National Premier League clubs can only receive player transfers fees of up to $7000 from A-League clubs.

This also needs to go.

If the $7000 rule was scrapped, NPL clubs could receive transfer fees that match their investment into their outgoing talent. These clubs have often had these players at at their club for years, and have been critical in their development.

These funds could then be used by the club to reduce the fees which come with young players registration costs.

This would mean more parents being able to afford rego fees, meaning better accessibility in the game – another positive for football in Australia as a whole.

The restructuring of the domestic transfer system in this way would create an economic system which filters from the bottom to the top. From grassroots to the elite.

The banning of transfer fees between A-League clubs made sense 16 years ago. But the system is clearly flawed, and it needs to be updated.

Featured image credit: Supplied

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Latest Articles

Corica unhappy with Sydney giving away points

Sydney FC head coach Steve Corica says he is frustrated with his team’s inability to see out games after his team conceded two late...

Bulls need to focus on themselves says Milicic

Macarthur FC boss Ante Milicic says his team needs to focus on themselves for the remainder of the season. The month of April was the...
Adam Sheldon
Full time football addict. Passionate about any sport with balls. Covering Sydney FC A-League and W-League teams for the upcoming season.
Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required