Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chief Executive Brendan Schwab today cautioned A-League clubs against failing to select players on the basis of their contractual status.
The PFA’s call is in response to growing concerns among A-League players that some clubs are failing to select players who exercise their rights to sign a future contract with another club or where selection sees the player earn a performance bonus or benefit.
“A professional footballer has a legal right to work which is implied into his contract of employment and forms a fundamental part of it,” Schwab said today.
“To satisfy this legal obligation, clubs must act in good faith to their players and consider them for selection on merit.
“The PFA’s legal advice is that a club fundamentally breaches a player’s contract if it refuses to select a player other than on merit, which is confined to performance, fitness and conduct.
“This conduct by a club constitutes a unilateral termination of the contract by the club, entitling the player to compensation. The starting point for the calculation of the compensation is the residual value of the contract, which would be included in the club’s salary cap,” Schwab added.
The PFA is particularly concerned by clubs that refuse to select a player who:
• in the last 6 months of his contract, has exercised his right under FIFA and FFA regulations to sign a contract with another club to take effect when his current contract has expired; or
• if selected, will meet an appearance quota in his contract that would trigger a contract extension such as for another year.
Schwab also said that the PFA’s concerns were not confined to the legal rights of the player, but extended to the professional ethos of the A-League and, indeed, the integrity of the competition.
“The suggestion that a professional footballer ceases to give his best upon signing a future contract with another club is ridiculous,” Schwab said.
“Only last season, PFA President Simon Colosimo won the Marston Medal in helping Sydney FC to the Premiership whilst having signed to play for Melbourne Heart in 2010/11. This is a regular occurrence in the world of professional football.
“We also need to remember that the A-League has the relatively unique features of a salary cap, finals series and no relegation. It is therefore incumbent that every team fields the strongest possible team on every occasion. Otherwise, the genuineness of the race for the Finals Series is compromised, which is unfair for the fans of the adversely affected clubs,” Schwab concluded.