Throughout the PFA’s 27-year history – and as the longest established stakeholder in the professional game in Australia – this country’s professional players union has secured numerous well documented and significant advancements on behalf of professional footballers.

Each foundational step forward has helped to ensure the viability of players’ careers today.

One of those outcomes – securing players’ free agency – is an example of how the union has historically helped to transform the game in Australia and dramatically improved players’ careers for the better.

This week marks 25 years since the PFA’s successful fight for free agency, secured through a landmark ruling of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), two years following the establishment of the Australian Soccer Players’ Association (which was later to become known as the PFA) in April 1993.

The ruling, recognised on 9 June 1995, meant the legal right of an Australian footballer, when out of contract, would be free to negotiate with and join the club of his choice, be it his current employer, or a new one.

That principle – free agency – ensures that a player has control over his own career and livelihood and that he is not a piece of property to be bought and sold.

Without the establishment of the ASPA, the abolition of the Transfer and Compensation Fee System before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) would not have occurred.

As recounted by ASPA founder, former Chief Executive and Chair of the PFA, Brendan Schwab, in a column for in 2015, the outcome “was the result of countless hours of negotiations with the then governing body, the Australian Soccer Federation (or the ASF), a 4 Corners Program and lengthy proceedings before an internal ASF inquiry headed by former New South Wales Supreme Court judge Hon Justice Stewart (the head of the National Crime Authority), a ten day hearing before the Full Bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) and even Australian Senate committee hearings.

“And because, just six months later in December 1995, Jean Marc Bosman’s legal crusade through the European courts emancipated the European professional footballer, many of today’s players do not know that their freedom within Australia comes not from Bosman, but from the pioneers of their own players’ association here in Australia.”

Click here to read Brendan Schwab’s column from 2015 here.