In Nigeria, the league is managed by the League Management Committee (LMC) created its own rules for the league, called the NPFL Frameworks and Rules. The creation and enforcement of the rules are however, distinct. There have been various offences committed by clubs towards players which are against its rules, but which they have failed to sanction. This article seeks to discuss various aspects of the rules which the players must be aware of.
The duration of a contract is the length of the contract, or in more simple terms, when the contract starts and ends. The rules clearly provide for the duration of a player contract in the league. Under the FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of players, “The minimum length of a contract shall be from its effective date until the end of the season, while the maximum length of a contract shall be five years.” This means the minimum length of the contract is a year, and the maximum is five years. Under the NPFL Rules and Frameworks, it states in Articles 9.40, 9.40.1, 9.40.2, 9.41 that:-
“9.40 Subject to the exceptions set out below, a contract between a Club and a Player shall not be for any period less than 3 calendar years provided that its expiry date is at the end of any season. The exceptions to this Rule are:
9.40.1 contracts with Players who have played professional football for a total of 10 years or more, who may be contracted to play for not less than 3 months at a time;
9.40.2 contracts with Contract Players under the age of 18 years which must not be capable of lasting for more than 2 years.
9.41 No player shall be transferred in the League until the expiration of the first year of the contract between the Player and the Club.”
Payment involves the remuneration of players. In other words, how much the player would be paid for the duration of the contract with the club. It is important to note in this aspect that most times, there are certain clauses in the contract which stipulate how much players are paid for certain accomplishments. For example, goals scored, number of appearances made in a season among others. However, this involves only the player salaries. Article 9.45 states:
The terms of a contract between a Club and a Player shall be strictly adhered to and where a club fails to pay remuneration or entitlements due to players for a period of more than sixty (60) days, such Club shall be liable to a deduction of a maximum of six (6) points and a further deduction of three (3) points for every further thirty (30) days for which the remuneration or entitlement remains unpaid.
Signing of contract
In terms of players signing contracts, it is usually advicable for players to have their representatives present when they are signing the contracts. More importantly, they need to have their lawyers go through the contract offer before putting pen to paper. Article 9.49 states the individuals who must be present at the signing of the contract. It states:
9.49 A contract between a Club and a Player shall be signed in each case in the presence of a witness by:
9.49.1 the Player;
9.49.2 the Player‟s Parent if the Player is under the age of 18 years; and
9.49.3 an Authorised Signatory on behalf of the Club.
Disputes often arise between clubs and players. In most professional contracts, there is always the option of arbitration as a means of resolving disputes between both parties. Article 9.54 and 9.55 provide:
9.54 Any dispute or difference between a Club and a Player not otherwise expressly provided for in these Rules may be referred in writing by either party to the LMC for consideration and adjudication in such manner as the Board may think fit.
9.55 For the purpose of this Rule only, “Player” shall include one who was formerly employed by the Club with which the dispute or difference has arisen, whether or not he has been registered to play for another Club.
However, the body which is supposed to resolve such disputes, the National Dispute Resolution Chamber, has yet to be constituted. This has led to disputes either being unresolved, or being filed before civil courts (an act which FIFA frowns at).
The termination of contract between club and player is also well stipulated in the rules of the LMC. A termination is mutual if it is agreed between both the club and the player before the expiry of the player’s contract. Article 9.52 and 9.53 state:
9.52 If the parties thereto agree to terminate a player’s contract before its expiry date they shall forthwith notify the LMC to that effect.
9.53 A Club shall be at liberty at any time to reach agreement with a Contract Player to amend the terms of his contract. If such an agreement increases the player’s remuneration then, unless the agreement is made in the Close Season, it shall be a term thereof that the player’s current contract is extended by a minimum of one year.
Mutual termination however, rarely occurs due to the fact that players sign one year contracts most times, and clubs let go of players at any point in time, and most times without paying their salaries.
Ayomide ‘Toba Eribake is a Sports Law enthusiast, and also has interests in Human Rights and ADR. He also loves researching and reading various subjects of interest.