A summary of the FIFA guidelines..
A summary of the FIFA guidelines for player contracts in respect of COVID-19
Issued by FIFA on 7 April 2020 in response to the disruption caused to world football by the COVID-19 pandemic following the outcome of discussions of a working group comprising FIFA Administration, the Confederations, National Associations, European Club Association, FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum.
They are intended as guidance to National Associations, in our case the FA, in addressing regulatory and legal issues arising from implementation of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (‘RSTP’) as a result of the disruption.
They cover three main areas;
- Expiring and new agreements
- Agreements that cannot be performed as intended
- Timing of transfer windows
The principles adopted by FIFA under 1 and 2 are non-binding interpretive guidelines to RSTP.
This note is intended as a summary of the FIFA guidelines for players in respect of;
EXPIRING AND NEW AGREEMENTS
Player contracts and transfer agreements are generally tied to transfer windows set by the FA as provided for in RSTP.
Postponement or suspension of league competitions will mean in most cases that they will be completed after the end date of the original season with the new season starting at a later date.
- Player contracts expiring at the end of the season
- Loan agreements expiring at the end of the season
- Transfer agreements
- Player contracts commencing at the start of the new season
- Agreements expiring at the end of the season to be extended to the new season end date (1 and 2 above)
- Agreements beginning on the original new season start date to be delayed until the new season start date (4 above)
- For international transfers where seasons or transfer windows overlap unless otherwise agreed priority should be given to the former club to complete the season (as extended) with their original squad (3 above). Payments due under transfer agreements to be adjusted in line with the new start date of the new season.
- FIFA recognises that domestic law of each National Association will take precedence which is why the proposals can only be guidelines and not mandatory.
- UK employment law applies to player contracts
- Most importantly an employer cannot require a contract of employment to be extended or materially varied (in particular any deferment or reduction in salary) without the agreement of the employee.
- Players do not have to accept ‘furloughing’ although depending on the club’s financial position it may not be advisable to refuse as the alternative could be loss of employment altogether
- Players cannot be forced to extend their contracts beyond 30 June 2020 nor accept a deferment or reduction in wages.
- Unless the club and player agree an extension or new contract the player will be a free agent on 1 July 2020 (note however, the registration of players under 24 with a new club will generally be subject to domestic and international regulations regarding training compensation)
- For a player whose loan is to the end of the season, then unless otherwise agreed, will revert to be an employee of his original club.
As you will appreciate the advice contained in this note is subject to change as we await further developments as to how the FA, leagues and clubs chose to implement FIFA’s proposals.
Tim Bailey will be pleased to answer any questions you have on your individual contractual position generally and in the light of these new guidelines.
He can be reached on 07500 666168 and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org