LMC clears air on player contract regulations

The League Management Company, LMC have come out to say their player contract regulation in place since the 2013/14 season was done in the best interest of the league and the players.

Previously, Nigerian league clubs signed players yearly until the LMC came up with regulations that insisted on minimum of three year deals expect those over 30 or who had played at least ten years in the league.

In a recent statement made available to naijafootball247.com, the LMC has clarified that the rule stipulating minimum of three years contract for players was introduced to stem some problems that were identified after a careful study of the situation that prevailed in the past.

Salihu Abubakar, the Chief Operating Officer of the LMC in a response to issues raised by the Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON) declared that the minimum of one year contract advocated by the umbrella body of players affected clubs and players negatively.

"The LMC met a situation in the league where a large number of player contracts lasted for a period of one year only. This adversely affected the stability and commercial viability of the clubs as well as the welfare of the players,” Abubakar said in a response to the APFON Executives.

The LMC refuted the claims by APFON that the regulation on contract duration enslaves players noting that, “…contrary to your claim that the rule enhances enslavement and abuse of players’ rights, the rule actually enhances stability in the employment of players. Note that the rule does not prevent players from being transferred to another club after one season upon mutual agreement between both clubs and agreement of personal terms between the player and the transferee club.”

Abubakar outlined some of the problems that plagued the previous contract regime to include mass exodus of players at the end of every season, adverse effects on clubs and players arising from payment of sign on fees, inability of clubs to focus on nurturing and developing players. Also listed are seasonal large scale alterations to team line-ups which discouraged fans' followership, unilateral and indiscriminate termination of players' contracts and payment of seasonal wages as against annual wages.

The LMC further said it was to resolve these problems for the mutual benefit of the clubs and players that the three-year minimum contract rule was enacted and pointed out that the FIFA regulation cited by APFON permitted national associations to vary the minimum and maximum periods of contract duration where it is consistent with national laws.

“We note that your letter conspicuously failed to identify any harm or disadvantage to players or clubs, caused by the provision in the League Rules which stipulates generally that player contracts shall be for a minimum of three years. The said provision, having already been in force one full season, has not been the subject of any complaints from any player or club,” the LMC posited.

The LMC assured APFON that the provision limiting the player contracts in the Nigeria Professional Football League to a minimum of three years was made in cognizance of the labour laws and employment in Nigeria with the aim of enhancing job security and protecting the rights and interests of the players they represent.

According to the LMC, the three-year minimum contract provision is without prejudice to the right of both parties to terminate the contract by mutual consent before the date of expiry, as enshrined in the Rules and also exempted some category of players from the three- year minimum contract.

"It does not apply to players who have played professional football for a total of 10 years or more - they may be contracted to play for not less than 3 months at a time; or players under the age of 18 years whose contracts must not be for more than 2 years".

Abubakar reminded APFON that it has in the past enjoyed the support of the LMC on players’ development and enlightenment, adding that APFON has unfettered access to the LMC and are always free to seek formal clarification on any issues before going to press and sending letters to clubs/players which can create unnecessary problems within the system.
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