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'The Bosman Ruling' that changed the history of transfers in Football

  • The Bosman Ruling shifted the power from the club to the players.
Harshith H.S.
Modified 28 Jan 2019, 00:36 IST
Jean-Marc Bosman, the player responsible for the Bosman ruling.
Jean-Marc Bosman, the player responsible for the Bosman ruling.

This season, Aaron Ramsey is reportedly set to join Italian club Juventus for a free transfer under The Bosman Ruling. He is out of contract at Arsenal and thus is free to join any other club for free. Makes sense, right?

But this wasn't a case a few decades ago. Clubs had the privilege to hold onto their player until they can accept a transfer fee from another club, which would indirectly mean that they could hold onto them on a permanent basis until they were offered a satisfactory deal. They could agree to leave them for free but that had rarely been the case.

In 1960, a midfielder called George Eastham was out of his contract under Newcastle and the club were under no obligation to let go off him. They did not even have to pay him until he signed a new contract. Eastham took his case to The High Court in London, where the Judge would rule in favour of the player and brought a small change to the ruling.

According to the amended ruling, players will be guaranteed a contract on the same terms. But the transfer fee ruling had not been abolished and the player's hopes of moving away would still be pinned on the transfer fee.

In 1990 however, history was about to be made.

Jean Marc-Bosman was playing for RFC Liege in Belgium. He was approaching the end of his contract and fancied a move elsewhere. Reportedly, a football club called Dunkirk were interested in him. All that was left to do was agree on a transfer fee for the Belgian, which never occurred.

RFC Liege demanded a fee to large for Dunkirk and they couldn't afford him. Hence, Bosman was stuck in Liege. Liege cut Bosman's wages by 75% and he was stuck at the football club. Out of desperation, he contacted a lawyer named Jean Louis-Dupont.

Jean Louis and Bosman approached the courts many times for a settlement, but were dealt with rejection. In 1995, however the court decided to come to a decision which would shake up the football world.

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

The European Court of Justice ruled in favour of Bosman, as the transfer fee system was considered a violation of Article 39 of The EU Treaty of Rome. This meant that players were free to accept any contract from other clubs when they reach the end of their current contract. They need not worry about any kind of transfer fee as the holding club need not be paid for the player's services.

The ruling came in too late for Bosman though, whose career had been over by the time of the ruling. He was offered a €330,000 compensation package, though the effects of the ruling had been more significant than his compensation package.

The immediate effect of the rule was to hand over the power from clubs to football, which was successful. But slowly but surely, the richer clubs of the world were able to develop themselves more as compared to the modest ones. They poached players by offering them higher player wages and thus were able to develop their teams better. Player wages took a rapid hike too.

Sol Campbell moved to Arsenal in 2001 with a pay package of around £100,000 a week, while no British player was earning more than £10,000 the decade before!

The Bosman Ruling is the reason why super agents like Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola are considered to be highly important in the football world. Players need to be offered satisfactory contracts to wipe away any chances of them moving away at the end of their contract.

The power drift has been clear to view in recent years, as some football clubs have budgets that the others couldn't dream of. This was a very bad effect of the iconic ruling which was made with the aim to give players more freedom.

Now the 25 or so richest clubs transfer players for astronomical sums and smaller clubs cannot afford to buy at those prices.So the 25 pull further and further away from the rest, deepening the gap between big and small. That was not the aim of the Bosman ruling.

-Jean Marc-Bosman,admitting that there were repercussions to his ruling.

Either way, The Bosman Ruling is one of the most iconic events in the footballing world.

Published 28 Jan 2019, 00:36 IST
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