Award-Winning Sports Lawyer and UCFB Guest Speaker Daniel Geey Discusses the Legalities of the Transfer Window
As the transfer window in football draws to a close once more, internationally-recognised sports lawyer and UCFB guest speaker, Daniel Geey has provided an insight into the justifications for and against the much-debated FIFA registration period.
Should transfer windows be abolished? What are the pros and cons?
The transfer window restricts the ability of a contracted player to move. That is certainly not in question. The justification for the transfer window is primarily that season and team stability can be a legitimate justification for restricting a player’s ability to move clubs.
The European Court of Justice, in relation to the questioning of the legality of a basketball transfer window, explained that valid sporting reasons in relation to team stability and the regularity of a sporting season could justify restrictions. Specifically, late transfers in a season could substantively change the sporting strength of one team over another, which could distort the proper functioning of a full league season.
These types of justifications are key to understanding why the transfer window is in place. It means that clubs cannot buy players with a few games of a season to go – from a team that has nothing to play for – if they are trying to win the league, qualify for the Champions League or avoid relegation. Such justification has to be balanced against the mobility of football players to transfer at limited periods of the footballing calendar.
FIFPro, the global players’ union, is reported to be challenging the FIFA transfer system, which no doubt includes the imposition of such windows. At present, however, no court has ruled the transfer window illegal in its current form.