Asser Sports Law Lunch&Learn 'The acquisition of economic rights of a football player'

13 - 13 November 2013
  • Starts at: 11:30h
  • Fee: € regular €25 / student €15
  • Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut
  • Organiser: Asser International Sports Law Centre
  • Address: R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22
    2517 JN The Hague
  • Email:

-         The origins and scope of Third Party Investments in European football          -

Presented by one of our Inter-University Research in International Sports Law (IRIS) members:

Roberto Branco Martins, lecturer international sports law University of Amsterdam, lawyer at the Amsterdam Bar, director and co-founder of Pro Agent and the European Football Agents Association (EFAA)

Under EU law football clubs are undertakings operating in the market of professional football. One of the financial pillars of the professional football industry is the income generated from the transfers of football players: the “transfer fees”. The legal foundation of these transfer fees is a clubs’ entitlement to receive damages for a breach of the employment contract prior to the end of the contract duration, between the club (employer) and the player (worker). In the far majority of the cases the damages are paid by the new club of the player. The damages are the actual transfer fees.

The international labour migration of football players is organized and sanctioned by the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP); a set of rules issued by the world governing body in football (FIFA). The core of these regulations is the promotion of contractual stability in international professional football. Therefore, these regulations are forced to find a balance between sporting integrity and the modern day reality of external pressure connected to the financial influx based on the transfer system.

Clubs have ever since the epic Bosman case in 1995, leading to the end of the previous transfer system whereby a player needed the consent of his former club to join a new club even after the expiry of his contract, been looking for methods to secure a transfer fee. Employment contracts between players and clubs are concluded for a maximum duration of five years. Legal instruments are available to clubs to extend this duration and prevent a movement of the player before the expiry of the contract.

The legal instruments offer the clubs a comfortable degree of certainty to receive an amount when the player moves to a new club. However, in these harsh financial times the need for liquid capital on the short term is in many cases more appealing than waiting until the moment that the player effectively moves to another club. As a consequence, clubs have embraced the participation of third parties in professional football. These third parties are attracted by the huge potential gain created by football transfers. For a negotiated amount these third parties can buy a share in the profit of a transfer. Ad hoc money in return for a share in a future event...

As this economic profit is connected to a player this phenomenon is described as “the acquisition of economic rights of a football player”.

Currently there is much debate about these economic rights. Discussions tend to focus on non-allowed barriers to workers’ rights (Third Party Ownership) and unwanted third party influence in club policies. On the other side of the spectrum more liberal protagonists advocate the freedom of clubs to act as an undertaking and freely decide on the acquisition of funds to ensure their equal balance with their economic rivals in the market of professional football.

What are the origins of economic rights or Third Party Ownership (TPO)? How has it entered into European football and in what forms does it exist? What is its impact on player contracts and club policies? What are the arguments of the advocates pro TPO and against TPO? What does TPO look like in practice? What will be the impact of a ban on TPO in European football?

Roberto Branco Martins is lecturer international sports law at the University of Amsterdam and a lawyer registered at the Amsterdam bar. He is the director of Pro Agent, an association of players’ agents in the Netherlands. He is the co-founder of the European Football Agents Association (EFAA), an association gathering over 1250 players’ agents and a stakeholder in international football with a special focus on the (re)regulation of the players’ agent profession. Roberto Branco Martins will discuss theoretical and practical issues surrounding TPO, this leads to a variety of legal topics concerning international football transfers that will be brought to the attention.


Time: 11.30 - 13.30

Fee: regular  €25 / student €15
(The fee includes administration costs and lunch)

Registration: Please send an e-mail with your name and organisational affiliation to ,
subject line “Registration Lunch & Learn 13 November 2013”
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