The summer rule change that could see Baines, Rooney and Vermaelen leave for nothing

Rooney Everton

Could clarification of the 'Webster ruling' see big names leave on free transfers BEFORE their contracts expire?

Are we all familiar with FIFA’s rules and regulations regarding the transfer of players; well no we probably are not and I would be lying if I was to sit here and say I really knew what on earth any of it meant. The fact is, apart from a basic understanding of the Bosman ruling thanks to an unhealthy obsession with the PC platform game Championship Manager as a teen, my knowledge is sketchy so bear with me.

Article 17 is an area that will be cleared up this summer after conflicting cases regarding Andy Webster and Brazilian international Matuzalem regarding the semantics of the wording.

Essentially when a player reaches the age of 28 and is three or more years into their current deal that player is then entitled to leave the club upon payment for the termination of his contract.

In Webster’s case FIFA and CAS went in his favour and he left Hearts for Wigan but Matuzalem was not so fortunate; he and his new club Real Zaragoza were forced to pay a hefty chunk of compensation to Shakhtar Donetsk and since then players have become reluctant to utilise the ruling for fear of its lack of clarity.

Now however FIFA are reportedly ready to rule in favour of the players in order to give them more freedom of employment similar to life in the real world; and it could have a massive impact in the Premier League.

After a little bit of digging the three biggest names that could exercise this ruling should it be clarified toward the Webster side of the ruling include Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United players all recently linked with a transfer.

In theory if things go the way they are believed to Leighton Baines, Thomas Vermaelen and Wayne Rooney; who will all be 28 and three years into their current contracts; would be allowed to cancel their contract and pay the termination cost themselves before becoming a free agent.

Sure it is not all roses for the players. The termination fees are likely to be sizeable sums and in Rooney’s case it is estimated he would be able to leave the club for a whopping one-off payment of £12 million. But with a new deal at another club involving substantial signing on fees you can imagine his wallet would not be hugely dented by such an action.

Do you think the rule changes would be good for the game?

images: © gordonflood.com

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