On 13 February 2020 FIFA published a circular outlining some significant amendments it has made to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTP”). The updated version of the RSTP incorporating these changes can be found here.
Clubs should carefully review each of the changes to see how they will affect its recruitment of players. To help, we have set out a summary of the updates to the RSTP below. Please note that each of the updates below will come into force on 1 March 2020, save for that relating to the Solidarity Mechanism which comes into force on 1 July 2020.
#Solidarity Mechanism – The major change in the latest round of amendments is to the Solidarity Mechanism. Following its announcement in September 2018 that football stakeholders had endorsed applying the Solidarity Mechanism to domestic transfers with an “international dimension”, FIFA has now updated the RSTP to reflect this. Pursuant to the new Annexe 5, Article 1(2)(ii), a Solidarity contribution is now payable by a new club on a domestic transfer if any of the player’s training club(s) is affiliated to a different national association to that of the new club.
This represents a significant change of position given that currently, Solidarity payments do not arise on domestic transfers. As a result, this change will add complexity to domestic transfers due to the additional liability involved for buying clubs whilst training clubs should monitor in closer detail the transfers of their former players given the greater opportunity for them to obtain Solidarity contributions. In the circumstances, if in line with previous practice, The FA’s domestic transfer window opens prior to 1 July 2020, English clubs may wish to conclude domestic transfers before this amendment comes into effect.
#Express prohibition on “Bridge Transfers” – “Bridge Transfers” are now defined as “any two consecutive transfers, national or international, of the same player connected to each other and comprising a registration of that player with the middle club to circumvent the application of the relevant regulations or laws and/or defraud another person or entity”. Such transfers are now expressly prohibited, with an automatic presumption applying if two consecutive transfers (national or international) of the same player occur within a period of 16 weeks. This presumption would also appear to apply if, for example, a player was immediately loaned to another club following his acquisition which often occurs for entirely legitimate reasons such as a loan back to the selling club to enable the player to continue his development. Clubs will now be required to provide evidence to refute this automatic presumption.
#Provisional Registration of Players – The RSTP have also been updated to optimise the procedure when an International Transfer Certificate (“ITC”) is not delivered by the former national association. The former association will now have 7 (as opposed to the current 15) days from an ITC request to consult with its affiliated club and to decide whether to grant or refuse international clearance. In the absence of a response, the new association may immediately provisionally register the player. If the former association rejects the request for the ITC, then, upon the request of the new association, FIFA may now immediately decide on the authorisation of the provisional registration of the player with the new club. The player will immediately be eligible to participate in official matches following provisional registration with the new club.
#Handling of validation exceptions through TMS – All requests by a national association for FIFA’s intervention regarding “validation exceptions” will now exclusively be managed through TMS. As you will be aware, “validation exceptions” arise when, for example, a club seeks to register a player outside a registration period.
#Exceptions to international transfer of minors – The RSTP now contain two exceptions to the general prohibition on the international transfer of minors – moves made by minors due to humanitarian or academic reasons. Each of these exceptions was previously accepted in the jurisprudence of the Sub-Committee of the Players’ Status Committee. However, they are subject to certain conditions which clubs will need to adhere to if ever they are looking to benefit from such exceptions.
The changes outlined above are the first in a series of changes to the RSTP that are likely to occur over the next twelve months. Follow Centrefield on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with our commentary on these developments.
If you would like more information on any of the points raised above or any advice in connection with the same, please contact Matthew Bennett (Partner) – MatthewBennett@centrefield.law or Stuart Baird (Partner) – StuartBaird@centrefield.law