As Andrei Arshavin continues to seek an exit route from Zenit St Petersburg to Arsenal, one potential avenue of departure has been closed to him.
The player could, under FIFA rules, buy out the rest of his contract and be free to walk away from the Russian outfit. Player's can use FIFA's Article 17 to walk away from their contracts after what is termed a 'protected period', usually set at three years, as long as they pay acceptable compensation to their club.
Arshavin will be eligible to buy out his contract in November, and walk away from Zenit 'on the cheap'. However, the Russian outfit's general director Maxim Mitrofanov has added to the war of words that is rapidly developing between him and the player, by claiming that there is a 'gentleman's agreement' in place amongst big clubs that would prevent Arshavin adopting such a course of action. It also contravenes FIFA rules.
'Yes, according to the laws of FIFA, at the end of the so-called ‘protected period’, the player has the right to unilaterally suspend the agreement by paying compensation to the club," Mitrofanov told Russian newspaper Sovetski Sport.
"But there is a nuance. The leading clubs in Europe, in order to protect themselves from such cases, agreed not to take on players who left the previous place of work using this rule. Formally, this agreement has not been laid down, but it exists.
"If Arshavin breaks the contract, he cannot be accommodated at a top club, to which he says he is seeking a move. So it is unprofitable for him."
Only one player is known to have used the loophole - Andy Webster moving from Heart of Midlothian to Wigan Athletic in 2006 - although Ronaldinho was rumoured to be considering a similar move when weighing up a move to Chelsea from Barcelona recently.
It was reported in the summer that there was some kind of agreement in place that would prevent Ronaldinho’s move to England, and Mitrofanov has provided confirmation of it.
Quite how this statement will impinge on the progress of the potential transfer of Arshavin remains to be seen.
Zack Wilson, Goal.com
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