PFA Executive Member Harry Kewell © Getty Images

Players at all levels of the professional game from Harry Kewell to Australia’s next generation of champions have turned to the PFA during the busy off-season to seek definitive advice on the complexities of player transfers, contracts and dealings with agents.
Between March and July, 74 players have been individually represented by the PFA in a variety of dealings, including the negotiation of playing contracts and transfers and the resolution of disputes with agents and clubs. The My Football Career program has also been active in assisting players in transition, either between clubs or into retirement.

Socceroos captain Harry Kewell and his manager Bernie Mandic referred Harry’s playing contract with Turkish giant Galatasaray to PFA Chief Executive and General Counsel Brendan Schwab in the negotiation of his transfer.

“Moving into Turkey, I felt it was essential to get the view of the PFA which is plugged into the legalities and commercial environment of every major football market,” Harry said.
The PFA plays a major role in assisting players and their agents in negotiating special conditions in contracts. Particular areas of importance are guarantees to ensure payments in the event of injury and a player’s freedom to move to another club on terms which also comply with international and Australian regulations on player transfers and training compensation.

Schwab said the PFA’s international network is a vital part of the PFA’s service, both in helping players in overseas moves and in returning to the increasingly attractive Hyundai A-League.
Nick Carle playing for Crystal Palace © Getty Images

Nicky Carle, who was involved in a surprise transfer from Bristol City to Crystal Palace in the English Championship, turned to the PFA to get advice about his move as well as to resolve issues with his previous agent.

“In Nicky’s instance, we were able to speak directly to the English PFA which possesses not only the best player relations expertise in the UK but the same local knowledge we have on the ground in Australia.”
Former Socceroo and key Wellington Phoenix signing Jon McKain sought the PFA’s assistance in securing his release from Romanian football to play in the A-League. The PFA also worked to ensure Newcastle Jets signing KazPatafta and Adelaide United’s Scott Jamieson were able to return to Australia from Benfica and Bolton Wanderers respectively as free agents.

There may be very serious issues of training compensation for young players seeking to return to Australia before the age of 23 after spending some years in Europe. Training compensation may be as high as US$80,000 for a player who has spent 2 years developing with one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

The PFA is also extremely active for A-League players. In addition to signing the landmark A-League Collective Bargaining Agreement in May, the PFA has been there for players individually. For example, experienced A-League campaigner Andre Gumprecht turned to the PFA after he had been advised by the Central Coast Mariners that his future lay elsewhere. Andre and the club have now agreed to a deal for a 4th season with the reigning Premiers. New Wellington Phoenix signing Troy Hearfield turned to the PFA to negotiate his release from the Newcastle Jets.

A major area of development with the new CBA has been ensuring players who are injured when they come off contract continue to be paid. The CBA entitles injured players to continue to be paid for 104 weeks from the date of their injury, even if their contracts expire in the meantime.

Pleasingly, young players from Australia’s academy system including the Australian Institute of Sport have turned to the PFA to negotiate or receive advice about playing contracts with A-League clubs. The PFA’s involvement at this level ensures elite young players are well represented and are not needlessly signed to playing agents who can charge substantial commissions for negotiating agreements that meet the minimum standards established by the PFA’s CBA with FFA.

“We are worried about young players signing deals with agents that see them charged excessively for negotiating A-League playing contracts at close to the minimum wage,” Schwab said. “Some agents will charge 10% of gross income for such an agreement, which sees a young player charged $3,000 or more for a deal the PFA can do for nothing. The better agents will not charge young players much if anything, but invest in them over a 3 – 5 year period and reap the rewards down the track.”

“Having said that, we recognise the essential role to be played by professional and ethical agents and indeed support their work. On many occasions, the PFA has worked in partnership with agents to secure the best deal for the player,” Schwab added.