The mid-season transfer window of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is upon us and a number of players are sure to be on the move. So, whether you are a player about to join a football club or an intermediary/agent about to seal a deal, these are key points to consider before a player steps out to the field in a club’s colours for an official match.
This article does not cover every single issue that may arise, but aims to highlight key issues for consideration in negotiating a professional player contract, with focus on the rules of the NPFL (note: while lower leagues may also feature professional players, there may be some differences in the provisions of the applicable rules).
While this article is for the benefit of negotiating a professional football player contract, the factors that determine whether a player is a professional or an amateur have been discussed in another article.
- THERE MUST BE A WRITTEN CONTRACT
A professional player must have a written contract with a club. This is one of the factors which determine whether a player is a professional or an amateur.
In most cases, there is a standard player contract provided by the league, which the club and player must sign; and the NPFL Standard Player Contract is included as ‘Form 7’ in the framework and rules of the league.
The player contract should not be confused with the registration form for participation in the league or any other competition, as that is a separate document that the player is expected to sign only after he must have signed the professional contract.
- MINIMUM WAGE
The rules of the NPFL provide for a minimum wage, which is currently fifty thousand naira monthly. However, it is not compulsory for a club to pay each player up to the minimum wage because the rules only state that the minimum wage shall be paid to at least 25 players registered with the league.
- DURATION OF THE CONTRACT
Generally, a player contract in the NPFL is supposed to last for at least three years. There are two exceptions however:
- a person who has been a professional player for up to 10 years can sign a contract with less than the minimum three-year duration, but the contract must be for a minimum of three months.
- a player who is below 18 year old cannot sign a contract that lasts for more than two years.
- SIGNING THE CONTRACT
When it comes to signing the contract, it is important to note that:
- the contract is to be signed in five counterpart copies – one each for: the club, the player, the player’s representative or witness, the league and the federation;
- if the player is below 18 years, the contract should be co-signed by his parent or guardian.
- any intermediary or lawyer involved in the negotiation must also sign the contract; and where the player does not use the services of an intermediary or lawyer, his witness must also sign the contract.
- THE PLAYER SHOULD GET A COPY OF THE CONTRACT IMMEDIATELY IT IS SIGNED
A player is entitled to his copy of the contract immediately it is signed and the NPFL has recently introduced measures to ensure that a player promptly receives his copy of the contract. It is now compulsory for a player to sign a receipt (as evidence for the club) that he has been given a copy of his contract; and the club must present this receipt when registering the player.