With the Premier League’s decision to suspend play until a minimum of April 3 this week, all of Europe’s five major footballing leagues have now been suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst fans all around the globe have been left scratching their heads as to what this might mean for their team’s final standings – were the contests not to resume this year – football’s rule makers are already beginning to consider how this might affect another vital part of the global game.
As a general rule of thumb within European football, all professional contracts run from July until June each year, with June 30 marking the day upon which a player’s deal official expires.
In a normal season and footballing calendar, this date is perfect – falling well after the end of all domestic and European seasons, whilst also offering enough time for the player to source a new club before the start of the new campaign.
Under the ever-changing circumstances in which clubs find themselves at the moment however, things are a little more tricky.
Assuming the season resumes in April, but faces further delays before the end of the campaign, there is every likelihood that matches will still be taking place across both June and July.
For players with years left to run on their current deal, this is obviously a non-issue, but for players who are in the final three months of their contract this season, this could see them having to depart their current employers before the season is actually wrapped up.
Take Chelsea for example. In their most recent 4-0 win over Everton last weekend, all three of their front line – Olivier Giroud, Willian and Pedro – see their contracts expire on June 30.
This means were they wish to remain at the club beyond this date, a new contract – or at least an extension – would have to be penned and cleared by the Premier League and FIFA.
Whilst this would offer a short-term solution, however, this would most likely hamper the player’s chances of moving to another club before the start of the next campaign – due to current restrictions on player registration rules.
Players who are currently on loan until the end of the season would also need to sign a temporary extension waiver to their agreement.
There is also the option of the player choosing to walk away from his contract in July, which, as one agent spoke to Football London about, remains a legal option.
“From a straight contractual perspective, away from loans, if a player’s contract expires on 30th June, I can’t see anything being enforceable to make him stay beyond that.
“I can’t see that anything could legally override players from saying ‘I’m not staying beyond 30th June.’ Or clubs from saying ‘We don’t want this guy after 30th June.'”
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