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SPORTS UPDATE

NPFL Clubs get Nov. 7 deadline to submit for Club Licensing

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs have again been reminded of the urgency to fully submit for Club Licensing assessment ahead the start of the 2022/23 season.

The Clubs’ attention was also drawn to Rule B9.32 of the Framework and Rules which prohibits the entering into loan agreements with amateur league clubs and Academies.

In one of two separate memos to the clubs, Davidson Owumi, the Head of Operations of the Interim Management Committee assured NPFL Stakeholders and participating clubs that preparations for the start of the new season are in top gear following the inauguration of the IMC.

“You are therefore advised to accelerate your preparation for the new season, especially as it concerns the Club Licensing process. Note that Club Licensing is a prerequisite for participation in the Nigeria Professional Football League, and failure to complete the process before November 7, 2022 may lead to your club being foreclosed”, the memo noted.

In another memo titled, Capital Flight and Loan Agreements with Amateur Clubs, NPFL Clubs were directed to refrain from the “unlawful practice of taking players on loan from Amateur Clubs and Football Academies as this is contrary to the provisions of the extant rules of the game.”

Owumi, in the memo noted that the directive has become necessary to reset operations of NPFL in line with the mandate of the IMC.

The memo cited Rule B9.32 of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional Football League which outrightly prohibits this practice by providing that; “No Club of the League shall enter into a Loan or Temporary Transfer agreement (as the Transferee Club) with an amateur club, a football academy, an individual or any entity other than a professional football club (i.e. a club in the Nigeria Professional Football League or the Nigeria National League).”

It also noted that “this practice, in addition to being illegal, contributes to capital flight from the NPFL as clubs are denied their due reward for developing professional footballers, and are excluded from benefiting from any future transfer of the player(s) involved under this illegal arrangement. The global football ecosystem has a reward system that favors clubs at every level. Thus, while professional clubs benefit from transfer fees, academies and amateur clubs benefit from training compensation and solidarity mechanisms”.

It ended by noting that the disruptive practice only serves to rob professional clubs of their due and is also “contrary to extant provisions guarding against Third-Party Influence and Ownership of Players’ Economic Right (TPI/TPO) as contained in Articles 18ibis and 18ter of FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, as well as Rule 9.34 of the Framework and Rules of the Nigeria Professional Football League”.

It warned of severe sanctions to be imposed on any professional club that attempts, purports, or continues to carry on this illegal practice of taking on loan, players from Amateur clubs and Football Academies or entering into contracts that encourage the perpetuation of Third Party Ownership of players’ economic rights”.

In a related development, NPFL Clubs were also reminded that claims bothering on financial disputes arising from player transfer between clubs do not affect the status of the player involved, as Article 18bis of the FIFA RSTP prevents any person or entity from acquiring the ability to influence the independence of clubs in employment and transfer-related matters”.

This means that a club cannot recall a player already transferred, but can however pursue claims for the enforcement of the contract transferring the player.

It also cited Article 18ter FIFA RSTP, which made provision against Third-party ownership of players’ economic rights by stating that; “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”.

It therefore warned that no person or entity can hide under the guise of being agents or player intermediaries to claim ownership of a player’s economic rights.

All football entities, including Football Academies, Amateur Clubs and Player Intermediaries were therefore urged to take note of the cited provisions, and ensure continued adherence to existing rules and regulations by refraining from entering into any such illegal and unenforceable contracts in the future.

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