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The KNVB (Dutch FA) arbitration committee has made a fundamental statement which in the future will protect players from the creative manipulation of transfer fees by clubs with so called package deals. The statement will also have an effect internationally.


At the end of last season AZ and Sparta negotiated a double transfer of Erik Falkenburg and Nick Viergever. Both players still had a running contract; Viergever still had one season left on his contract and Falkenburg still had two. Partly due to this fact the amount offered as transfer fee by AZ for Erik Falkenburg was around twice as much (€ 1,250,000.00) as that for his colleague Viergever (€ 500,000.00). This amount was initially considered to be too low by Sparta whereupon a final agreement was reached for transfer fees for both players of a total amount of € 2,000,000.00.


The Sparta contract of Erik Falkenburg contained a so called share clause: with a transfer sum greater than € 500,000.00 the player would receive a percentage of the excess. All involved then naturally assumed that his old club would settle with him in a proper manner. Not Sparta. The Sparta management decided to resort to a manoeuvre, which would have led to the club being able to keep the percentage promised to Erik Falkenburg in their own pocket.


Confirmation was indeed sent to AZ agreeing to the total amount, but suddenly stated thereby an entirely new distribution. The transfer fee for the Falkenburg contract was suddenly substantially reduced to € 500,000.00, and at the same time the transfer fee for the Viergever contract was increased. The last mentioned did not have a share percentage in his contract. The VVCS players' union describes this as an unacceptable disadvantage for Erik Falkenburg. However, Sparta turned out to be relentless and was not even willing to discuss a compromise.


There remained no other course of action available for the VVCS than to request Mr. Wil van Megen, lawyer, to appeal to the KNVB arbitration committee. Van Megen argued before the committee that this involved an inadmissible conditional sale and requested the Committee to impose an obligation on Sparta to comply with its contractual obligations towards the player. In support of his argument he also pointed out to the members of the Committee earlier, comparable international judgements of the international Dispute Resolution Chamber and CAS.


The Committee agreed with Van Megen completely. They also considered it completely implausible that the transfer fee for Falkenburg could have decreased to such an extent in such a short period. The Committee described the behaviour of Sparta to be in conflict with the legitimate interests of the player and compelled Sparta to pay the agreed percentage in full.


VVCS director and FIFPro board member Louis Everard: ‘This is a fundamental, important statement. The objectionable manipulation with transfer fees during double transactions between clubs is now definitely something of the past. Sparta attempted nothing else than to heavily disadvantage Erik Falkenburg through an incorrect package deal. Luckily they were not given the opportunity to achieve this.