Football agents celebrate FA tribunal victory in fight against Fifa regulations

<span>Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

A group of football agents have claimed an important victory in their fight against new Fifa regulations designed to control the industry. A tribunal commissioned by the Football Association has found that certain key elements of the Fifa Football Agent Regulations (FFAR) are incompatible with British competition law, leaving the FA unable to implement the new rules in their current state.

Those elements are understood to be a proposed cap on the size of an agent’s fee from any transfer and a restriction on the frequency of payments received by any agent.

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The case was one of several brought across Europe by intermediaries and was coordinated by the European Football Agents Association. On Thursday, the body welcomed the outcome of the arbitration process.

“Today we heard the results of the English football agents case in the FA Rule K arbitration proceedings,” it said. “We are happy to hear that the [tribunal] has sided with the agents and blocked the implementation of the FFAR. As our English friends so aptly put, these regulations were an attempt at using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – far overreaching and overstepping, beyond legitimate cause.”

Agents in Germany and Spain have succeeded with attempts to block the FFAR cap in those countries. Fifa proposed to cap agent earnings at a maximum 10% of transfer fees when they acted for a selling club and to allow agents to be paid by their clients no more than quarterly.

As part of FFAR, Fifa wants to limit the capability of agents to take a share of a player’s salary in the event of completing a deal and has created an online clearing house to track global transfers. It also announced proposals to stop agents from representing the buying and selling clubs in a transfer. It is unclear how Thursday’s ruling will affect these aspects of FFAR.

The FA had been expected to introduce a domestic version of FFAR (known as NFAR) at the end of October. That decision was delayed pending the outcome of the arbitration. The FA will have to assess how far the tribunal’s assessment affects its ability to proceed with NFAR.

The FA issued a response to the ruling on Thursday night. “The FA Tribunal issued its award following the conclusion of proceedings, which declared that if the FA implements the Fee Cap and the Pro Rata Payment Rules in the NFAR, it will be in breach of the Competition Act 1988”, a spokesperson said, confirming that the full verdict will ultimately be published. “The FA is considering the implications of the decision and will provide a further update as soon as it is able.”