AIFF will not be able to grant IMG-Reliance’s ‘loan’ window in March

The Indian FA will have little option but to inform their commercial and marketing partners of their inability to create a ‘loan window’

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will have to reject IMG-Reliance’s plea for an ‘Emergency Loan’ window to be established as it breaches FIFA’s existing transfer regulations.

IMG-Reliance, in the Emergency Committee meeting of the AIFF a fortnight ago, had cited the example of the ‘Emergency Loan’ window existing in England which is for the Championship, League One, League Two and Non-League sides who can benefit by roping in players from the Premier League clubs but not vice versa. It was put in place to provide relief to clubs who are stricken by injuries or suspensions, but some clubs over the years have taken advantage of it to boost their squads for promotion pushes, etc. In stark contrast what IMG-Reliance are looking for is the loaning of players from a lower division tournament/league to the highest division, i.e., I-League.

While the I-League Professional Football Clubs Association (IPFCA) have stated that they wouldn’t deal with any players associated with IMG-Reliance’s initiative, should they decide to reverse their decision too, the said players stand to miss out on the I-League in the latter half of the season.

It must be noted that back in 2011, the world governing body for football’s Players Status Committee had decided to ban the ‘Emergency Loan’ window starting the 2014-15 season.

Players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fi xed by the relevant association. As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period. Associations are authorised to register such professionals provided due consideration is given to the sporting integrity of the relevant competition. Where a contract has been terminated with just cause, FIFA may take provisional measures in order to avoid abuse, subject to article 22. (art. 6 par. 1)

“To the best of FIFA’s knowledge, no other association (or league) has a system similar to the “emergency loan” system currently in place (in England). Since the decision of the Players’ Status Committee in November 2011, a few associations have contacted FIFA enquiring about its position on the matter, and they were systematically referred to the aforementioned decision of the Players’ Status Committee.

“When passing its aforementioned decision, the Players’ Status Committee has analysed the English “emergency loan” system in particular in the light of art. 6 par. 1, art. 18 par. 2 and art. 5 par. 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, which, on the basis of art. 1 par. 3a) of the said Regulations, are binding at national level too,” FIFA categorically mentioned in a communication to Goal.

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 fi ve years. Contracts of any other length shall only be permitted if consistent with national laws. Players under the age of 18 may not sign a professional contract for a term longer than three years. Any clause referring to a longer period shall not be recognised. (art. 18 par. 2)

Andy Williamson, Chief Operating Officer of the Football League, had stated that FIFA would review its current international rules of transfers and conduct a research to ascertain whether there is support around the world for any relaxation of rules. However despite the research, it hasn’t helped the English cause as the said window will be shut as per the decision of Players Status Committee of FIFA.

“FIFA's on-going work has been undertaken with the objective to continuously adjust the applicable regulations to the needs of modern football, and tackle the ever-changing challenges that football is faced with, in consultation with all football stakeholders. In this respect, any future potential adaptations that could further contribute in this direction will certainly be analysed by FIFA, and implemented, where appropriate, following the necessary consultation and applicable decision-making processes within FIFA’s competent bodies.”

Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play offi cial matches for two clubs. As an exception to this rule, a player moving between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons (i.e. start of the season in summer/autumn as opposed to winter/spring) may be eligible to play in official matches for a third club during the relevant season, provided he has fully complied with his contractual obligations towards his previous clubs. Equally, the provisions relating to the registration periods (article 6) as well as to the minimum length of a contract (article 18 paragraph 2) must be respected. (art. 5 par. 3)

On being categorically asked whether any Football Association or League wishes to create an ‘Emergency Loan’ transfer window, apart from the existing system of two, what would be FIFA’s stand on it?

“The respect of the registration periods, the legitimacy of which has been confirmed on other occasion also by the European Court of Justice, however, is and will continue to be a fundamental principle of FIFA’s international transfer system. Compliance with the relevant provisions is regularly monitored and safeguarded by FIFA through the Transfer Matching System (TMS). The existing regulations regarding TMS can be found at Annexe 3 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.”

The following provisions are binding at national level and must be included without modification in the association’s regulations: articles 2-8, 10, 11, 18, 18bis, 19 and 19bis. (art. 1 par. 3a)

So the Indian FA have plenty to ponder about before even thinking on the lines of creating a separate transfer window in order to facilitate the request of their partners.