FOOTBALLERS ARE MERE COMMODITIES
IGNORANCE is bliss, so they say. But in footballing terms, ignorance is no excuse.
It has been more than 20 years after the M-League turned fully professional (in name) but a structured transfer system has yet to be established.
Transfer refers essentially to the contractual relationship and rules that oblige a player and a club.
So a transfer is whenever a player moves from one club to another and implies the transferring of a player’s registration from one club to another.
A transfer fee is involved when a player moves to another club whilst he is still under contract with his present employers.
In other words it calls for an early termination of his present contract.
There are two types of financial indemnities related to transfers, transfer fee and training compensation.
Transfer for early termination of contract can be described as an agreement between a professional player, the club he is leaving and the club he is joining subject to all parties being agreeable to the terms and conditions.
So a transfer is a tripartite agreement between the player, the transferor club and the transferee club.
Training compensation or development fee can be defined as an amount agreed by all parties to indicate expenses incurred in developing the player during his formative years.
In a sport that has a large number of commercial interests - advertising, media industry and sportswear, a transfer can create a media circus.
In recent times we have been exposed to numerous cases.
FAM handed Gary Steven Robbat a three-month suspension and a fine of RM50,000 for signing with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) without prior approval in 2014, with the suspension bringing an end to a three-way tussle for the then 22-year-old player, namely his home state Kedah, Johor and Pahang.
The biggest issue then was that he was tied to FAM by virtue of being a Harimau Muda player.
Now that the Harimau Muda program has been abolished, the issue of players having to return to their original State or birthplace upon reaching a certain age is no longer relevant.
Selangor right-back Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham was still contracted to FA of Selangor when JDT lured him recently with an interesting proposition.
If there was a transfer system in place, Azrif could have brought his case to FAM and seek an early termination of contract from Selangor and for JDT to pay not only the remaining of his contract but a certain fee agreeable to both parties.
Pahang meanwhile will need to negotiate with Frenz United to release R. Kogileswaren and R. Dinesh, two of nine players down with a five-year scholarship deal with the private club since 2014.
Amidst this chaos, the Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia (PFAM) can justify its existence. Having been dormant for a long time, PFAM was revived by a group of players led by Hairuddin Omar, Shukor Adan and Rezal Zambery Yahya.
A young chap called Izham Ismail was handpicked to head a group of young individuals with legal background to run the office.
In a forum co-organised by a loose coalition of fans, ex-players and coaches calling themselves Real Friends with the assistance of the National Football Development Plan (NFDP) support unit, Izham revealed the staggering number of unpaid salaries.
Despite being a new kid on the block, Izham is sceptical for a transfer system to work given the current scenario.
"The players need to realise being professional is not only about earning a certain sum of money and salary negotiation.
"In professional football it has become an industry and therefore it has to be managed like a business. The players are the team’s assets and under such circumstances, the players have to see themselves as commodities.
"A player of a certain stature can be a source of revenue and income for the teams and himself. He is in a position to bargain for the highest bidder and the value is reflected in the amount of the transfer fees.
"Over here the idea of an established transfer system is still vague. Very seldom we hear Team A paying Team B a sum as a transfer fee. Often we have teams paying compensation fees for buying out the remaining contract.
In order for a transfer system to be put in place, Izham says the issue of unpaid salaries needs to be addressed.
"The basic principle of a transfer must be fully understood by everyone connected to the game. We are deeply saddened by the fact many teams are taking the players for a ride.
"Until today five teams owe their players an accumulative sum of RM4.47 million in unpaid salaries. The FAM Status Committee meanwhile takes a long time to convene and provide a solution to this."
The ball is in FAM’s court. The merry-go-round circus will surely stop one day.