Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Footballers want players association


PRO LEAGUE SEMINAR: Players listen attentively during the Pro League’s Player Development Seminar last week at Digicel IMAX in Woodbrook.

Mark Fraser

The need for a football Player Association was one of the main conclusions coming out of the Pro League’s Player Development Seminar held at Digicel IMAX in Woodbrook last week. 

In its continued effort to enhance footballers professionally, on and off the field, the Pro League held the first in a series of planned seminars. Other seminars will include ‘Managing Your Finance’ and ‘Professional Development.’ 

Entitled “Knowing Your Contract”, last week’s seminar sought to educate players about the intricacies of contracts they sign. 

The seminar saw contributions from attorney-at-law, Dave Williams and Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene about the importance of understanding contract arrangements. Williams touched on various aspects of a contract, such as the negotiation of contracts, contractual obligations and termination of contracts, after which players raised their concerns. 

Players from W Connection, Central FC, North East Stars, Police FC, San Juan Jabloteh and St. Ann’s Rangers raised questions of salaries, fines, health benefits and player insurance, and freedom of transfers at the end of their contracts. 

I’ve learnt a lot from the exercise,” said veteran W Connection midfielder Silvio Spann. “Although a lot of it was a reminder of what I’ve heard before, being the professional that I’ve been for a length of time, locally and abroad.” 

Spann, who has played professionally in Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, credited W Connection for professionalism and honesty when it came to contractual agreements, but believes there is an urgent need for a players’ association.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned from this seminar is that players need a players’ association,” added Spann.

“It’s vital, and I think the information gathered today in terms of the questions asked by players, calls for a Players’ Association. Players are really hurting deep inside and some of the questions need to be addressed,” Spann said. “The knowledge we have gained here today would have switched that light on, in terms of taking their questions and concerns through the proper structure.” 

Main speaker Williams told players to make sure they understand it fully before signing any contract document because they have to live by the terms of what they sign.

“Read the terms of your contract,” said Tobago-born attorney Williams . “If it doesn’t have a good explanation or you don’t understand your contract, just don’t sign it. Seek independent advice. It can be from anyone; a legal person, a family member, an agent, or whoever.” 

Williams further reminded players of the existence of a Player Status Committee, an independent body, which has dealt with concerns in an expeditious manner, and will continue to do so, once issues are brought to the attention of the League formally.

Meanwhile, Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene also felt a well-informed player would help produce a better product on the field.

“You cannot consider yourself a serious professional footballer if you fail to, or, refuse to take your contract seriously,” Skeene said. “You cannot be serious about your career if your attitude is, I have an agent, manager or coach to deal with that. Professional football is serious business.”