Alexis Sanchez, sold to Manchester United for less than half of his actual value by Arsenal Football Club in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. An absolute travesty you might say. No!
This isn’t the first time such a transaction will be taking place between English powerhouses Arsenal FC and Manchester United. Does the sale of Robin Van Persie by Arsenal to Manchester Utd ring a bell?
Why do these rather peculiar transfers take place one may want to ask.
The term “Bosman Rule” lately has become subtle to the point of it being obsolete.
The massive amount of money being earned by footballers today can be traced to the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman who decided to take on his erstwhile club in a head-on legal battle. A battle that will cost him his career.
Football has gone through numerous changes. There have been rapid changes in trends and systems which have come and gone as far as gameplay is concerned.
Under the modern game, teams save for the likes of FC Barcelona and some few others, rarely play with more than a lone striker up front.
Just as there have been series of changes to the actual gameplay, outside the pitch there have also been groundbreaking changes outside the pitch. The case involving Bosman is one of such changes and perhaps arguably the biggest change to alter the game as per welfare of footballers forever.
A normal contract between two parties can be terminated by either party, subject to the terms of the contract. Football shouldn’t be any different one may want to think, right? Wrong.
This was not the case in football pre 1995 except for countries such as France and Spain.
25 year old Jean-Marc Bosman was a Belgian footballer plying his trade at RFC Liege who had come to the end of his contract in 1990. He wanted to leave the Belgian club for a French Division 2 side Dunkirk.
At the time a player was not free to leave a club side even after the end of his contract unless the club decide to let the player leave or another club side pays a transfer fee.
The sum demanded by RFC Liege was more than Dunkirk could afford, hence the deal fell through. Not only was his wages at the club slashed by 75 per cent, he was banished from the first team.
To add salt to the already deep cut, he was banned by the Belgian Football Federation for not signing the cut price contract offered by Liege.
Staring at a bleak future Bosman decided to take on the establishment head on. Bosman took not only RFC Liege, but also The Belgian Football association and UEFA before the European Court of Justice.
The Court, on the 15th of December, 1995 decided that Bosman as well as other EU players had the right to a free transfer upon the expiration of their contracts.
Alas, Bosman won.
“Once the European Court of Justice ruled that clubs no longer had to pay transfer fees after the expiration of a player’s contract, all hell broke loose. Suddenly it was a free-for-all.” Sir Alex Ferguson is quoted to have said in 2015.
It saw a fundamental shift in power from the football club to the footballer.
It can be argued that no event or decision has had as much a far reaching effect as the Bosman Rule. It not only improved the financial situation of footballers but also increased their power in determining their own fate.
It is easy to forget the excruciating working conditions of footballers in the past, especially when one is only aware of the lavish and flamboyant lifestyle of the modern day footballer.
An evaluation of the effect of the Bosman Rule can only lead to a single conclusion that not only has it been a blessing as to improving the lot of footballers, it has also been a curse as it has been subject to abuse by players.
By Matthew Mordi