Dandenong Thunder has been ordered to pay significant compensation to former player Anastas Kristo after the Football Federation Victoria (FFV) Contract Arbitration Tribunal found that the club had breached his contract by not paying him in accordance with it.
Kristo, an Italian citizen and former Maltese Premier League and Italian Serie C professional player, arrived in Australia in February and soon after signed a professional playing contract with the club for the 2010 season. Kristo saw limited game time in the first few rounds of the season and as a result the Club did not pay him the salary and other benefits due under the contract.
After 3 months of non-payment, Kristo sought legal advice from the PFA who eventually terminated his contract for just cause and filed for arbitration under the FFV Grievance Procedure. PFA Player Relations Executive James Johnson represented the player during the hearing arguing that the club had not only repudiated the contract, but also failed to meets its obligations to the player under Australian immigration law.
The club’s counsel argued that the club did not repudiate the contract as there was a separate verbal agreement whereby the player was only due payment if he played in first team matches. The arbitrator found in favour of Kristo awarding him all outstanding payments to date and the remaining value of his contract including all applicable superannuation. Under Australian immigration law, the club must also now pay Kristo’s expenses for relocating back to Italy.
Although Kristo was happy with the arbitration victory, his experience in Australia was soured by the club’s treatment of his contract.
“I was very excited to move to Australia and continue my professional football career, particularly given the development of the Australian game in recent years. It ended up being a very stressful and unhappy experience for me because my contract was never respected and my career is now in jeopardy. Australian football has so much potential, but if the game is to attract international professional players then contracts need to be respected as players need to feel a sense of security,” said Kristo.
“The compensation I will receive from the arbitration victory will of course soften the blow and I cannot thank the PFA enough for their representation and support during this experience,” Kristo added.
The club now have until Monday 30 August 2010 to pay Kristo the compensation due under the arbitration award.  If the club fails to meet this deadline, all of the club’s senior teams will be suspended from competing until the payment is made.