Indian Arrows Punjab FC I-League 2019-20I-League

I-League: Punjab FC handed three-window transfer ban by FIFA's DRC

I-League outfit Punjab FC have been handed a three-window transfer ban starting from the upcoming summer window after failing to pay a compensation amount of $18,000 to North Macedonian footballer Hristijan Denkovski.

After the player and the club were embroiled in a contractual dispute, FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) passed a judgement in favour of the footballer on February 13 and had instructed the club to pay the compensation amount to the player within 45 days.

But despite the directive, the club failed to honour their obligation to the footballer within March 31, 2020. As a result, the transfer ban has been imposed by the DRC and the club has been instructed to clear the players’ dues at the earliest.

As per the contract, the player was supposed to earn $2000 per month and the final settlement amount was decided at $18,000 plus an interest rate of 5 per cent per annum on the amount as of August 29, 2019.

However, the DRC has also mentioned that Punjab has 45 days to clear the dues, after which the ban will come into effect. However, the ban will be lifted as and when the club clears Denkovski's dues.

Punjab FC, then Minerva Punjab FC under the ownership of Ranjit Bajaj, had entered into a contract with the former Gokulam Kerala footballer on July 5, 2019. Denkovski signed a one-year deal with the club which was to run from September 1, 2019, until May 31, 2020.

Ranjit Bajaj

The footballer had submitted his proof of no Third Party Ownership (TPO) to the club on July 30, 2019, but the club informed the player on August 6 that the contract has been terminated and declared null and void due to a change in ownership.

On August 10, the club had sent ‘No Dues Certificate’ and ‘Mutual Settlement Agreement’ to the player, thus unilaterally terminating the contract.

After further negotiation from the player’s side, he was informed that since he had delayed in submitting the proof of no TPO document, the decision was taken by the club.

The player approached FIFA on August 29, 2019, where the DRC judge acknowledged that a valid contract of employment was signed between the two parties and that the player had sent the proof of no TPO documents well within the timeline needed to sign new players in India (the deadline was 31 August 2019).

Subsequently, the DRC came to the decision.

Speaking to Goal, former Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj said, "We had to terminate the player’s contract back then because he did not arrive in time in India. We had already started our pre-season but still, the player did not arrive so we had to terminate the contract as we could not afford to waste more time."

Bajaj further stated that prior to the change of ownership of the club, they had informed the new owners about  Hristijan Denkovski's situation. In an email dated April 8, Henna Singh, then co-owner of Minerva Punjab, informed Zoheb Khan, manager of Punjab FC about the pending case of Denkovski and the compensation that needs to be paid. The email was duly acknowledged by Punjab FC. 

She has also informed FIFA's Player Status Department that the ownership of Punjab FC has since changed and the new owners, RoundGlass, are liable to pay the fine. She has stated that as per the Share Purchase Agreement governing the sale of the club to RoundGlass, all liabilities were transferred to the new owners and Denkovski's potential amount has also been mentioned in the same.

Subsequently, Punjab FC were in deliberation with the player's lawyer and they had further exchanged a string of e-mails regarding the settlement of payment, which Goal has access to. Yet, since the payment has not been made the transfer embargo has been handed to Punjab FC.