Fifa submits transfer plans to commission

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The governing bodies of world and European football will today submit their plans for a total overhaul of the transfer system, without the support of the men who play the game.

The governing bodies of world and European football will today submit their plans for a total overhaul of the transfer system, without the support of the men who play the game.

In a statement, the European players' union (Fifpro) rejected the proposals that the joint Fifa-Uefa Task Force will submit to the European Commission in Brussels this morning, which will attempt to retain some form of transfer payment for players under 24. The EC competitions commission is investigating claims that the transfer system breaches the right of free movement of labour enshrined in the Treaty of Rome.

The Task Force proposals would ban all transfers for players under 18, set up a panel to arrange compensation for clubs to cover the training and development of players between 18 and 23 and restrict them to one move in a season which would have a twice-yearly transfer window.

However, in the wake of a public slanging match between the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, and Gordon Taylor, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association and Fifpro, at Friday's press conference to launch the Task Force recommendations, the players' unions yesterday withdrew their support. "They [the Task Force proposals] are unacceptable to the players and incompatible with the European Treaty," the Fifpro general secretary, Theo van Seggelen, said. "Fifpro agrees that the current transfer system needs to be amended to comply with the European Treaty. We will continue our discussions with the EC and look for a solution based on four pillars."

Only one of these pillars, a twice-yearly transfer window, is wholly acceptable to the Task Force while two - freedom to unilaterally break a contract and the proposals that contracts should be for a maximum of two years - have not so much been rejected as not even discussed, to the anger of some Uefa delegates.

The insistence that players should be free to break agreements with their employers has provoked the fiercest disagreements, with Manchester United's secretary, Maurice Watkins, accusing Fifpro of having no respect for contracts.

Taylor has argued that any player who is forced to leave midway through a contract should be compensated via a formula that takes into account the player's salary and the length of time remaining on his existing deal. The Task Force will propose a compensation panel for transfers between clubs in two member countries, while transfers within a country will be decided by that nation's employment laws.

Taylor has already stated that he intends to hold separate talks with the EC competitions commissioner, Mario Monti. Taylor had said he would be "astounded" if Monti found the Task Force proposals acceptable. "Their proposals are designed that way because all the leagues and the associations want to do is try to maintain things as they are."

Fifa, world football's ruling body, and Uefa have struggled to maintain a united front on the matter. Uefa's general secretary, Gerhard Aigner, was taken by surprise when Blatter announced that Fifa would support the scrapping of transfers for players over 23. Blatter argued that since Fifa ran competitions for players older than 23, they could be regarded as the finished product.

Uefa is under the greatest pressure to hold some vestige of the transfer system in place, amid predictions its abolition would lead to many smaller clubs across Europe facing bankruptcy. Chelsea's chairman, Ken Bates, has indicated he would immediately scrap the club's academy system, while Arsÿne Wenger stated he would leave club management if transfers were abolished.

The competitions commission has set New Year's Eve as a deadline for a decision on the future of the transfer market and hopes to have a new system in place by the summer.

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