Football Agents - Bosman & Raheem Sterling

Football Agents - and Free Player Power
Football Agents - and Free Player Power

Football Agents, Free Player Power & Raheem Sterling

A lay person's guide to Bosman, the name all Football Clubs Hate!

The Bosman Ruling stikes fear into Professional Football Clubs following the Bosman Case, Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosma. Money in football has increased exponentially, beyond all comprehension when the case was decided in 1995. A power shift from Club to Player as a result of the European Union and Eurpean Law between Member States.  Football Agents (now football intermediaries) have stepped in to advise players on £Multi-Milllon deals and why not?  How can you expect a young 17 or 18 year old top player to deal with large Profeesional Corporate entities with numberous specialist Lawyers and Advisors by himself or with Mum and Dad?  An equality of arms is a must otherwise the Player will be sold short.

Summary of the Bosman Ruling (Non-Legal - Simple Guide)

To recap Mr Bosman was a player for RFC Liege who was in the Belgian First Division.  It is important to note he was not a "top football player" quite average in fact. Bosman’s contract with the football club expired and he wanted to change clubs to Dunkerque, a French Team.

The problem was that the Belgian Club wanted a fee for Bosman which the French Club refused to pay.  As a result the Belgian Club refused to release him as they held is registration cards.  During this period, Bosman was no longer a first team player and his wages were substantially reduced.  He was effectively stuck in limbo.  Before the Bosman Ruling, professional Clubs had all the power to stop a football player from joining another Club notwithstanding their contract had expired.  The Clubs had paid a fee for the players or helped developed them and thus considered that they were able to hold onto them for a fee.  

Restraint of Trade - Free Movment of Workers within the Eurpoean Union

This attitude by the clubs was seen as a restraint of trade (a European Law which is held above national interests or laws) where one of the main features of the European Union was to ensure free unrestricted movement of citizens between Member States. 

Bosman considered that the Club was holding him back from joining another, where he was out of contract, out of pocket and effectively un-employable. He was of the view that the Club was treating him unfairly and a restraint on his ability to find work.

He took his grievance to the European Court of Justice and won his case.  Players are now able to look for work (or a new Club) if the current Club do not offer him a new contract or he refuses to sign.

Power Shift – Clubs to Players 

The significance of the Bosman case is that power has now shifted to the Players and good football agents are able to negotiate lucrative deals for players who are coming to the end of their contracts.  Football Clubs have to be more intelligent about their contract negotiations and should start looking at opening player contacts significantly in advance of the contract end date, one would suggest 2-3 years before the end. 

The significance is clear and may have avoided the saga relating to Raheem Sterling who was said that if he had he been offered a contract by Liverpool FC last summer he would have signed (as would have Steven Gerrard). 

As the Club had failed to offer a contract in good time (when the Club almost won the Premiership when LFC were on a high; still had Luis Suarez and just got back into the Champions League) to the disappointing season that followed, the Club is now having difficulty signing Sterling and of course have lost Steven Gerrard.  It's about timing.

Despite the fact that Sterling still has 2 years left on his contract, Liverpool are still worried as they cannot force him to sign despite the £100,000 a week salary.  The longer Sterling holds out, the less valuable he will be to the Club as, courtesy of Bosman, he will be able to leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract (subject to any training compensation Liverpool and QPR are entitled to due to his age).

Stick or Twist?

Football agents for Sterling must have considered his options and desires carefully.  It is not necessarily the football agents that are deciding his future, it must be a mutual consensus. Whilst the agents are being criticised for Sterling refusal to sign, nevertheless Sterling has to make the final decision.  It could be a “hard core” tactic to extract more from the Club or a genuine desire that he sees his future outside of Liverpool.  Whatever his decision most people will consider his refusal not to sign simply as “greed.”  But at the end of the day, Clubs are being offered enormous amounts of money and footballers are the main asset. At this level, money is not everything to footballers.  It’s about winning, the sense of playing with the best, creating a legend status.  Football agents can help fulfil the players’ wishes but those wishes may not the same as the agent.  The Football Agent will advise and provide the options.  Providing the player has “informed advice” the agent must follow his client’s instructions.

Two High Profile Free Bosman Transfers

Edgar Davids  Transfer from Ajax to AC Milan in 1996,

Steve McManaman  Transfer from Liverpool to Real Madrid 1999 - most valuable British Transfer at the time.

Raheem Sterling  - Is he next?  I am not a Money Grabber

Danny Ings - Done Deal - Free Transfer Burnley to Liverpool

Liverpool Football Club Free Transfer - Danny Ings

Liverpool FC may lose Raheem Sterling due to the requirement to sell a depreciating asset but what "goes around comes around" and they have took advantage of a free transfer of Danny Ings from Burnley subject to training compensation fee. For more information on the transfer fee for a Player under 24 years old and how it is calculated see Football Agents blog: Tribunals and Tribulations of the Transfer Window - The DANNY INGS Case Study


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Enter the characters shown in the image.