Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Small clubs cry FOUL! - Argue that transfer limit crippling football development

Published:Tuesday | August 20, 2019 | 12:19 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Tevoy Colespring (second left) of Meadforest FC holds off Barbican FC’s Damian English during their Magnum KSAFA Super League first-round clash at Constant Spring Complex last season. Barbican won 1-0.

The Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) is expected to, at the upcoming Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) annual general meeting, call for a review of the local transfer cap system, particularly for lower-league transfers.

Currently, transfers of amateur players between lower league clubs and top-flight Premier League outfits are capped at $45,000, while transfers between clubs playing in the lower division are set at $20,000 for intraparish deals and $25,000 for interparish transfers.

Dal Henry, coach and administrator at KSAFA Super League club Meadforest, believes that the system hampers the sustainability of small clubs, as well as the overall development of football in the country.

Henry described the situation as a gross exploitation of smaller clubs and has suggested that the limit be increased to a minimum of $100,000.

“It’s well over two decades [that the rule has been in effect], and it’s really exploitation because in the Premier League, it suits them best to keep it at that figure. It’s sad because they are not looking at the overall development of the football,” Henry told The Gleaner.

“How can small clubs survive? You (small clubs) take a player from five years of age and teach him up to 16 years old. When we are finally able to get back any form of return, that is the type of figure you are looking at? The best player in your club, you are letting go for $45,000, and we have seen, over the last few years, players being sold for a million Jamaican dollars in the Premier League, while $250,000 and $300,000 have become a normal figure for transfers in the [Premier] League. Yet we in the Major and Super Leagues continue to suffer,” Henry argued.

However, he still believes that there should be a limit for transfers to prevent clubs from overpricing players.

“You cannot buy back three football boots (with $45,000), and these are things that are hampering the overall development of football. We would be satisfied with $100,000, but it should be a ballpark figure because we don’t want clubs to hold back a player. Some clubs will say, ‘stay with me’, and put up $300,000 and $400,000 for a player when that player could have moved forward and make a living. So I think we need to fix the figure at $100,000, and I am hoping our leadership at KSAFA will put it on the agenda of the next (JFF) meeting,” Henry said.

KSAFA general secretary Dwayne Dillon said the body was in full support of the lower-league clubs and intended to have the issue tabled for discussion at the next JFF AGM.

KSAFA is one of the few associations in Jamaica with representative clubs in both the Premier League and lower leagues.

“We have made note of it before, and we will do it again. We will let the JFF know that we need to review it. Those decisions weren’t made by us, and we are not happy with it. It needs to change. So we are on the same page (with the small clubs). We will get back to them (JFF) when the AGM comes up, so it will be on the agenda for discussion,” Dillon said.

The JFF AGM is set for next month.

JFF president Michael Ricketts and general secretary Dalton Win could not be reached for comment.

Boys’ Town FC administrator Andrew Price, the current coach of Premier League club Humble Lion, is in agreement with a rule change.

“When you look at [Premier League] clubs transferring for a million dollars and lower-league clubs can only get $45,000 so if you have a talent, you would have just lost all of your investment for just $45,000. So I believe the JFF, as the regulators of the sport, should regulate the transfer fees so there is parity across the island,” said Price.

The outlined maximum for Premier League transfers is set at $250,000.

In recent times, however, local clubs have broken that $250,000 barrier for players moving within the league. However, a administrator yesterday explained that some clubs command fees north of that sum because of a buyout clause in their players’ contracts. The administrator also noted that top-flight clubs mainly use transfer regulations as a guide in case there are any disputes regarding transfer fees.