Brokerage ban for players purchasing football clubsApril 12, 2019
The dome of professional clubs is ready with radical new rules to break the omnipotence of football agents. This appears from a proposal that De Tijd could look into.
Belgian football clubs can only rely on brokers when selling players, no longer with incoming transfers. That is one of the most striking new rules that the Pro League, the umbrella of the 24 professional clubs, proposes to reform the Belgian transfer market. Pierre François, the Pro League top pro, presents the plan to the clubs on 6 May. De Tijd could already look into the proposal.
What is it about?
Top football promised to clean up after the commotion around Operation Zero. This money laundering and corruption offensive has a focus on clubs, coaches and brokers. Mogi Bayat, a powerful broker who handled dozens of transfers every year, disappeared into jail for weeks. Football had to send a signal, also under pressure from politics, which threatens to cut the generous fiscal and social favor regime. The intention was not only to drain illegal cash flows, but also to ensure that less money flows out of football. Last year, realtors skimmed out 48.6 million euros at clubs, 15 percent of all transfer fees (317 million).
What is on the table?
Brokers must choose: with transfers they can negotiate for a player, a selling or a purchasing club. No longer for different stakeholders. Today it is common for brokers with different caps to pass the cash register up to three times.
Brokers who negotiate a transfer for players are now paid by the player. Now the practice is that clubs pay commissions to brokers.
Clubs may only work with a broker when selling, provided that neither the player nor a teammate is under contract with him.
Clubs may only work with a broker when selling, provided that neither the player nor a teammate is under contract with him. With player purchases, the intervention of a club broker is even completely prohibited. That should put an end to the controversial practice of "home brokers" such as Bayat, who handle all transfers and are supreme in clubs. That opens the door for abuse, as Operation Zero revealed.
The plans do not include the introduction of maximum percentages that brokers can skim on transfer fees. That was a long way off, but it was abandoned for legal reasons.
How does it work?
The turntable of the new model becomes a clearinghouse, following the example of the financial sector. That vehicle will be in the hands of the Belgian Football Association and the Pro League. They appoint two lawyers and two auditors, who check whether all paid sums are kosher.
Every broker – domestic or foreign – can only do business after mandatory registration, recognition and control by the clearinghouse. A broker's license is subject to strict criteria, such as a gambling ban and a blank criminal record.
The clearinghouse is funded through an annual allowance of 5,000 euros from each of the 24 professional clubs and the Flemish and Walloon football leagues. Brokers who want to join can be charged an amount up to 10,000 euros.
It is also striking that the clearinghouse will skim off 0.25 percent of all transactions. It will also publish all transaction details transparently.
Are there sanctions for infringements?
Brokers risk fines of up to 50,000 euros, suspension or cancellation at the clearinghouse. That comes down to a professional ban. For players there are fines up to 10,000 euros and suspension. Clubs risk a fine of up to 50,000 euros, a loss of 10 percent in their TV money, a transfer ban, and points deduction for a complete cancellation at the football association.
Is this approved?
There are stumbling blocks. At the clubs can be heard that Pierre François plays solo. The intention was that he would work out a proposal with two experts for former minister Melchior Wathelet and Wouter Lambrecht, lawyer at FC Barcelona. But they would hardly be involved.
The brokerage prohibition on player purchases is imbuvable for many. "Suppose the Dutch PSV and Anderlecht are after the same foreign player. Then PSV can offer its broker commissions on the transfer and the wage, while Anderlecht have to say that the player has to pay him. A competitive handicap, "says an initiate. "That can only work if the world football association FIFA introduces rules on a global level."
The real estate federation BFFA also requires a reset, with the main requirement that the clearinghouse must be an independent institution. "That the Pro League oversees control opens the door to conflicts of interest. That link must go, "says an insider.
The new broker rules are the first part of a three-stage rocket. Pro League chairman Marc Coucke previously outlined that he wanted an agreement between the 24 professional clubs on a regulatory framework for brokers. After that it is considered to also include the regulation in the license conditions. Finally, that should lead to legislation.
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