Solidarity Payments: What exactly are they?


The system of "solidarity payments" introduced by FIFA two years ago was only one aspect of a radical overhaul of regulations in part forced on upon it by a dispute involving the EU and UEFA which had its roots in the Bosman case.

When the EU threatened to dismantle the transfer system, the two football organisations desperately sought to find a compromise, and the introduction of new forms of "compensation" was one of the policies Brussels found acceptable.

While the solidarity payments involve the distribution of five per cent of transfer fees to the clubs which helped to develop a player, there are also provisions to compensate clubs when young players move without any fee being paid.

When a professional or semi-professional player under 23 moves from one club to another while out of contract, his new club must compensate all of those that have helped to develop him.

Payments in this instance are based on a scale of club categories, from one to four, with the likes of English Premiership sides falling into category one and small, part-time outfits in lesser leagues included in category four.

This detailed and complicated structure of categories influences the scale of payments both to be made and to be received.

Were a British side to sign a 16-year-old Irish player, the clubs which have developed that player since the age of 12 would be entitled to €10,000 for each year, making a total cost to the recruiting club of €€40,000.

While it is felt that this scale of payment will not deter clubs chasing the most promising youngsters, it will almost certainly lead to a drop in the overall number of teenagers heading to Britain each year, although it is possible clubs will try to circumvent the regulations by insisting that clubs waive their rights to future compensation payments.

At present, these regulations apply only to moves with some international dimension to them, but each association is obliged in the longer term to adopt policies broadly in line with FIFA's. This will mean eircom League clubs, some of whom have started recruiting players at the magic age of 12, will have to pay the schoolboy and junior clubs from which they obtain players. But, having pressed to be placed in a high category in the hope of receiving more compensation for those players they send on to England, they would also, on the face of it, be liable for similar sums.

As such figures are clearly unsustainable in a league in which only the very biggest transfers exceed €40,000, the matter is now to be resolved by a committee being established by the FAI, and a deal, involving clubs agreeing to pay some fraction of the international figure, is likely to be agreed some time next year.