Webster ruling opens exit door for 'big-name stars'
Thursday 21 February 2008
Andy Webster expects his landmark court case result will allow leading footballers nearing the end of long-term contracts to walk away from their clubs with barely any fuss.
Webster, now on loan at Rangers, left Hearts in 2006 to join Wigan Athletic, taking advantage of Article 17 in Fifa's player status and transfer regulations.
Article 17 enables termination after three years when a contract is due to end before the player's 28th birthday, and also allows older players to leave after two years, providing compensation is paid.
The rule was introduced in 2001 after a compromise deal with the European Commission, who had threatened to abolish the transfer system.
Last month, Webster learned he had succeeded in challenging Fifa's demand that he should pay Hearts £625,000 in compensation, and had the sum reduced to £150,000, the equivalent of his final year's salary at Tynecastle.
Hearts had been seeking around £4.5m at the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, claiming they should have been compensated for the cost of replacing Webster.
His case could see players around the world seeking to end their contracts early, on the basis that clubs may only need to pay up their final year of salary to secure deals.
The 25-year-old has been mentioned alongside Jean-Marc Bosman as a pioneer for players' freedom of movement, and said: "I didn't envisage this would happen.But when I went to Switzerland in October last year that's when I realised it was a big deal as both sets of legal teams were there and you could see what they were arguing over.
"It was not just about football, it was about the laws governing the game in general, so that is when I saw for myself the importance of the case and what a big thing it was.
"I now hear big-name stars talking about moving in a similar way," he added, "and it was me that was the guinea pig right at the start.
"It has taken 20 months for my situation to be concluded but for the next person it will probably take a couple of days."
Knee and ankle injuries have dogged Webster since he joined Rangers 13 months ago and he has only made one first-team appearance so far.
He is fit again now and has been playing for Rangers' reserves. Webster said: "Hopefully I can now get on with my football which is so important to me. That is what I am paid to do and what I enjoy."
Elsewhere, Javier Clemente said he was surprised and disappointed by the Iranian Football Federation's decision to back out of an offer to appoint him as national team coach because of his refusal to live in the country.
"For me it was a disagreeable surprise because I had gone to a lot of trouble and was really looking forward to giving them a helping hand especially after the reception they gave me when I went there," the former Spain and Serbia coach said.
"I could have done a good job but if they are incapable of respecting an agreement from the start then it is better not to have gone. They've wasted my time and in the end I got bored. I'm not going to coach Iran now."
Latest in Sport
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
18 things Wenger has still never done at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol