Players' union warns League over contracts

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The Independent Online

The Professional Footballers' Association has warned the Football League it is heading down "a dangerous road" in threatening to withdraw from an agreement which governs players' contracts unless the transfer window is removed from the domestic game.

The Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee (PFNCC), which is made up of representatives from the Football League, Premier League, PFA and Football Association, determines the terms and conditions of standard players' contracts. However, the Football League chairman, Sir Brian Mawhinney, has stated the consequences of any withdrawal would signal the end of the collective bargaining agreement which was drawn up by the PFNCC to protect both clubs and players and which has existed for 25 years.

Mawhinney is set to meet Sepp Blatter, the president of the world governing body, Fifa, in the new year to discuss the League's case as he believes clubs should be allowed to sell and buy players without restriction - including to and from Premiership clubs - in the domestic game. Mawhinney claims that in the first year of the transfer window operating domestically the transfer market was down 47 per cent.

"The story is clear from around Europe - transfer windows are not in the best interests of clubs," Mawhinney said, following yesterday's meeting in London of European football bodies to discuss the impact of the transfer window on domestic leagues. "We call on Fifa to remove transfer windows domestically to allow our clubs the same freedom to trade that they previously enjoyed for so long. It is imperative to the survival and success of our clubs that they generate income from their playing assets as and when they need to."

Unless Fifa relaxes the regulations regarding the transfer window, the League says it will be forced to act, with Mawhinney insisting it is not "crying wolf". However, even though Mick McGuire, the deputy chairman of the PFA, sympathises with the League's position he feels it is "putting in jeopardy" the collective bargaining agreement which is designed to protect both players and clubs.

"Everybody buys into it and it ensures there is no anarchy," McGuire said. "The agreement underpins everything and helps us through all the problems which arise. In making threats, it's a dangerous road to go down. In no other country is there as strong a collective agreement, and I think quite clearly they are shooting themselves in the foot."

Fifa had promised a review into the transfer window this season, but so far the Football League, along with many others across Europe, has yet to be consulted.

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