ANOTHER VIEW: A goal scored for freedom

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The Independent Online
I believe that the interim ruling on transfers from the European Court of Justice is just what the antiquated world of football needs. The FA has been trying to get its act together and modernise things, but there are still unbelievable rules and regulations limiting players freedom. This judgment, which is likely to be made into European law, will give players much more freedom to work where they want.

When I came into football, from the world of showbiz, I was monster surprised to find out that a footballer's contract is not over when it finishes. As it stands at the moment, if a footballer's contract ends and the club offers him the same money that he was on, he is tied to them. They still hold his registration papers and can request a fee to hand them on. What other business would treat its employees like this? In any other job, if your contract is ended you are free to do what you want. It is a disgraceful situation and one that needs to be ended.

The doom and gloom merchants of the smaller clubs are saying this will be bad for them, that they will lose all their good players and go to the wall. I could say hard cheese, but I won't. I would point out, though, that small clubs are always moaning about something. How many times have you heard small clubs claiming they are about to go bankrupt, and how many of them actually do?

There is an easy solution for these clubs. They need to sign up youngsters on long contracts. If you sign a 16-year-old on a 10-year contract, he is tied to you until he is 26, so if he develops his monster potential, you're safe - either you can keep him, or you can sell him for a huge profit. If he doesn't, it is not difficult to end his contract. That solves the problem for the smaller clubs.

The larger clubs are unhappy at the thought of losing the vast transfer fees that they charge, and yes, they will lose out in the short term. But eventually they will gain because they won't have to pay transfer fees when they are buying new stars.

Some people criticise the large sums paid to players. I'd point out that a player's earning potential is crammed into a short time span. Even the Government recognises this - football players are allowed to draw their pensions at 35.

As for the other aspect of the ruling, freedom of movement, again the judgment can only be a good thing. At present, there is a limit to the number of foreign players a team can field in international competitions. I think we have brilliant players here in England, and that's why great foreign players such as Bergkamp want to come and play. It's unlikely that a free market in footballers would swamp our own players. But if they did, and a team such as Arsenal, say, was all Italians, French, Israelis and Nigerians, what the hell? Supporters would love it as long as they were scoring the goals and winning the games.

The writer is agent for several England players.

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