MFA President: New regulations will strengthen the game

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo and General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti explained in more detail the amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players while addressing a press conference at the Centenary Hall on Wednesday.

The MFA President said these regulations were originally due for approval during a meeting of the Council on March 14 – two days before football was suspended due to the COVID-19 – but were finally approved on Monday. The regulations were effective as from June 9 when season 2020/21 officially kicks-off.

Vassallo said the idea behind these amendments goes back to 2011 when an agreement was signed in Brussels regarding the minimum requirements for standard players’ contracts in the professional football sector in the European Union and the rest of the UEFA territory. The objective behind this was the respect of the freedom of movement in football.  He added that despite the Bosman ruling in 1995, a number of countries – not only Malta – who were not fully respecting this decision.

The MFA President added that there was pressure, for example, the Commissioner for Children was arguing against the fact that children were not being allowed to change nurseries and the system of parameters. He said that this had been introduced several years before with the idea to fix a price on each player. However by time, people started to understand the principle of grassroots football: amateur players who enjoy playing football.

Vassallo went through a time-line of events which led to this. He said that in 2011, the platform of social dialogue was established by UEFA together with EFL, ECA and FIFPro. Together they agreed to promote the concept of minimum contract requirements for players. A UEFA task-force visited Malta in 2012 as part of a tour around all national associations to promote the minimum requisites which had to become standard all around Europe. This was followed by further visits in 2015 and 2016, each time evaluating the progress being done in this regard – what was being proposed and what was being implemented.

The MFA President, who was serving at FIFA as Director for Europe, said he took stock of the situation and together with the governance division, responsible for the statutes, tried to find out what was lacking in this matter. He said that in some cases, FIFA intervened and had to impose sanctions on some associations who were failed.

The Malta Football Association was obliged to bring this process to an end by the end of season 2019/20 and last Monday, the Council unanimously agreed to these changes. It was a historic decision as this changed the regulations which for several years football was inhibiting the development of players. Now regulations are in full conformity with FIFA regulations and EU laws as this gives freedom to the market.

Bjorn Vassallo said that this decision was taken as the association celebrates the 120th anniversary. He said clubs will now operate in a new framework and it was thanks to the maturity of these clubs, that despite the fact that they were set to let go a system which was providing them a source of income, they understood what needed to be done. Representatives of clubs from all divisions accepted the fact that the MFPA had to be one of the stakeholders in this discussion. Together they worked towards achieving this milestone for the game.

The MFA President said that these amendments were part of his programme. He said that thanks to these regulations and other changes which are planned, we are entering a new regulatory era which would strengthen the local game and guarantee sustainable growth. At this point, the association has to support and guide clubs for this new era which entails a drastic transformation.

Next year, another important reform will be that of licensing of clubs: new classification in the status of clubs: professional (Premier League and Challenge League); amateur (National Amateur League) and non-league (member associations and grassroots). He said that this would lead to another reform in the MFA statute with regards to the representation and voting powers of these different levels in the MFA structures.

Another reform will focus on the corporate restructuring of clubs in order to operate as companies which would help them to safeguard investments. This would give clubs the chance to operate on a more professional basis.

MFA General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti explained in more detail the main changes in the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. 

The Professional Player

Definition of a Professional Player 

A player who has a written contract with a club and is paid more for the footballing activity than the expenses incurred. 

The registration process of a professional player starts with the signing of an active registration, the signing of an active contract, the submission of the contract, the submission of the active registration and the awaiting of the confirmation from the association. The registration and contract need to be submitted together within fourteen days of the player’s signature. 

Third-party Ownership of Players’ Economic Rights 

No club or player shall enter into an agreement with a third party whereby a third party is being entitled to participate, either in full or in part, in compensation payable in relation to the future transfer of a player from one club to another, or is being assigned any rights in relation to a future transfer or transfer compensation. 

Respect of contract

A contract between a professional player and a club may only be terminated: 
– on expiry of the term or by mutual agreement
– where there is just cause 
– any abusive conduct by a party aimed at forcing the counter party to terminate 

Previously the player had to revert to the Complaints Board, and if he played with the same club in the following season, his previous contract was renewed automatically. This will be no longer the case.

Just cause for termination for overdue payables 

Full-time professional players: if a club fails to pay for 2 months (+ 15 days default notice) 
Part-time professional players: if a club fails to pay for 4 months (+ 15 days default notice) 

The Complaints Board shall, at the request of such player, give a free release to such player, who shall be deemed to have a just cause to terminate his contract 

Before a player could request just cause for termination if a club fails to pay for 3 months.

At the end of the contract, the player is free to obtain the release/move to another club without compensation. 

The system of parameters to establish a player’s value is abolished. 

When a player is transferred while under contract, clubs are free to agree on the amount of the transfer fee. There is therefore no for transfer fees while player is under contract

Compensation mechanism for breach of Contract 

It is always recommendable that the consequences of breach of contract ought to be agreed upon and specified in the contract between the club and the player. However, where not provided in the contract, the unilateral termination of a contract by a Club or by a player without just cause will now give rise to a defined compensation mechanism based cumulatively on 3 components. 

– Remaining part of contract
– Transfer fee incurred, if any, to sign the player 
– Training compensation if the player grew with the club 

Reacquisition of Amateur Status

Automatic change of status after 30 days following last match as professional (as per FIFA Regulations).

Before one had to submit a request to a board.

Special provisions relating to contracts between Professionals and Clubs 

A professional player shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if: 
– Contract with present club has expired 
– Contract due to expire within 6 months 
– A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player’s current club in writing and file the contract with the Association 

End of Agreed Period in an Agreement 

When the period of engagement of a professional player comes to an end… 

Contract with present club has expired 
– Player has  automatic right to move 
– Club needs to renew the contract of the player 
– No parameters when player is out of contract 

Removal of the Transfer List 

Players’ Transfer List: Previously a club which no longer required the services of a professional player, could put such player on the Players’ Transfer List 

Club had to inform the Association: Clubs had to write to the Association in order for their player to be listed on the Players’ Transfer List 

Accessibility: The Players’ Transfer List used to be posted on the Malta FA notice-board and its web-portal 

Reason for removal: The concept of the Transfer List has become obsolete 

The Amateur Player

The Registration of an Amateur Player

35+ Years: Registration remains yearly (as is) 
18+ Years: Players in their 2nd season of obligatory period are free to move 
15-18 Years: Nursery compensation, previously payable if the player moved clubs, has been removed 
12-15 Years: Nursery compensation, previously payable if the player moved clubs, has been removed 

Note: 12-15 years: at the end of season 2019/20, players born 2005 are entitled to move
15-18 years: at the end of season 2019/20, players born 2001 are entitled to move 

No change to current regulations except that no compensation will be paid

The Registration of an Amateur Player with Member Clubs (18+) 

At the end of the 2 year obligatory period of service, player has the right to be released… 
– No financial compensation is paid if player registers for another club (excluding training compensation if player is given the first professional contract) 
– Player has to request release in writing by sending an email to the club’s official address and copying in until 31st July. 
– Player who moves abroad will be free to join any club upon return to Malta at any time 

Clubs/Teams an Amateur Player may play for 

– Member Club 
– Workplace Team 
– School Team 

This means that a player who plays in the National Amateur League (formerly Second and Third Division) can no longer play for a club in league organised by a member association.

The Amateur Players’ List (formerly ‘Retained List’) 

50 Players Age 12-15 
50 Players  Age 16-18 

15 Players Age 12-15 
35 Players Age 16-18 

List to be submitted by end October and available upon request 
Loaned out players to be listed on retained list 

Training compensation 

When a player is given the first professional contract, previous clubs which contributed to the player’s development (between age 12 and 21) are to be compensated. 

– Compensation will now be paid upon registration as professional (previously clubs had to monitor their former players and claim their respective amount). 

– The registering club may opt to deposit the amount of training compensation with the Association if there is no agreement with the player’s previous club(s) 

– The Association shall within 45 days distribute the training compensation to the player’s former club(s) entitled to it. 

Club entitled to training compensation

Premier LeagueChallenge LeagueNational Amateur League
Club paying training compensationPremier League€1500€1500€2250
Challenge League€750€1000€1250

Example: Challenge League to Premier League 
If an amateur player of a Challenge League club signs as a professional for a Premier League club after two seasons with the Challenge League club, then the Premier League club needs to pay €1,500 x 2 = €3,000 

Example: National Amateur League to Premier League 
If an amateur player of a National Amateur League club signs as a professional for a Premier League club after four seasons with the National Amateur League club, then the Premier League club needs to pay €2,250 x 4 = €9,000 

Example: Premier League to Challenge League
If an amateur player of a Premier League club signs as a professional for a Challenge League club after three seasons with the Premier League club, then the Challenge League club needs to pay €750 x 3 = €2,250 

Rules applicable to both Professional and Amateur Players 

Transfer Windows
Amateur players coming from abroad may only be registered during the official transfer windows of professional players.

Financial claims: Fees applicable to disputes before the Complaints Board 
€25 – for claims up to €2,500 
€100 – for claims over €2,500 and up to €10,000 
€250 – for claims over €10,000

Costs will be borne by the party deemed responsible or apportioned between the parties depending on the judgement  

Questions related to Registration of Players 

  • Competence to decide on questions related to the registration of players given to the Complaints Board (previously Executive Committee)
  • The Complaints Board is composed of members nominated equally by clubs and players and an independent Chairman.
  • Professional players who end their careers upon expiry of their contracts and amateurs who terminate their activity shall remain registered with their last club for a period of 30 months. This period begins on the day the player made his last appearance of the club in an official match.
  • This is in line with FIFA regulations.