INTERNATIONAL – Chelsea Football Club was slapped with a ban from making signings over two transfer windows by FIFA after the former was found guilty of inducing young midfielder Gael Kakuta to break his contract with RC Lens in 2007.
One of Chelsea’s other “Big Four” rivals, Manchester United found itself under scrutiny in the face of allegations by RC Lens that the former lured its young player, Paul Pogba, to Old Trafford by offering financial inducements to the player’s family. This triggered a strong reaction by United and the latter threatened Le Havre with legal action over their allegations. United’s rival, Manchester City could land itself in hot soup with the world football governing body when Stade Rennais lodged a complaint with FIFA regarding City’s alleged illegal approach towards its young player, Jeremy Helan. FIFA has indicated that they will be investigating the matter.
The FIFA ruling on Chelsea might have triggered off a precedent for smaller clubs to make their cases known against the big clubs who pry their young talents away through alleged underhanded means. Currently, the two teams in the Manchester derby showdown are involved, but this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, and more or less a harbinger for similar cases of allegations to come.
Crewe Alexandra FC face the prospect of losing one of their promising youngsters, Max Clayton, to another “Big Four” club, Liverpool. The club’s Technical Director, Dario Gradi, alleged that the Liverpool approach was definitely illegal and there was evidence to prove it. If Crewe loses Clayton, they could get as little as 100,000 pounds in compensation, which is disproportionate to the amount of resources that they invested in developing young players.
FIFA’s ruling will deter big clubs from attempting to sign young players illegally from clubs who have groomed them. It is a positive step to protect the interests of smaller clubs who have made a huge investment to groom the players, only to lose them on the cheap due to an illegal approach. However, more can be done, especially for smaller clubs who lost their young players when the latter signed legally for the big clubs. An enforcement ruling that makes all the destination clubs compensate previous clubs based on appearances and honors won by the former after signing the young player is definitely desired. It would definitely benefit smaller clubs to have a ruling that enforces such a compensation clause during their contracts negotiations.
What is really needed is a pro-active stance to protect the interests of the smaller clubs. The reasoning is that if the smaller clubs are losing players on the cheap and are not receiving adequate compensation for the young players they are producing, then they could face the risk of financial ruin. If these small clubs are no longer there, wouldn’t that lead to a drop in footballing quality within the nation because such academies that were crucial to the development of young footballing talent are being closed down? Neither would it benefit the big clubs if they lose their supply of young players to replenish their ranks.