Development compensation is common in most of the European football countries. In all countries it is clear at what age it starts. If clubs start their serious development from the age that compensation start, they could lose a lot of quality development time. Therefore, is it not honest that if you invest early, you should be compensated from the moment you start investing?
What is the best way to start the development compensation?
I think it should start from the moment a player enters a professional academy. The academy should be able to prove their investments. When an academy starts from 7 years old, 9 years or 12 years old with organizing a professional program they should be secured. Every federation has her own rules for allowing to register teams in the club’s structure connected with strict criteria to a team at professional level. Criteria such as stars, levels or any other distinction they could use to reward clubs for their development efforts should be used to set rules for development compensation. These criteria should be related to number of fields, coaches, players and another specialist to evaluate an academy. The clubs can not be rewarded when they have nothing to show; increase not only the budget but also demand investments of these clubs in facilities and coaches. It could even be related to the number of foreign players that a first team maximum could register. THERE SHOULD BE AN ADVANTAGE FOR THE CLUBS THAT DO INVEST FROM AN EARLY AGE!
My personal journey in my coaching and management career brought me to different countries and I had to deal with different circumstances to keep players secured for the club I was working for.
In one of the countries it was at first that you had to pay according UEFA / FIFA ruling, from 12 years old compensation started, then after a few years it changed into a regulation that players could leave but when they signed a professional contract with another you would be compensated for the years he was playing in your academy. In another country it was from the beginning clear that years in a professional academy were counted but that it only would be paid when a player signed a professional contract with your club or that you had to pay another professional club if you scouted a player from them. A third example is that players could move freely from club to club until their 15thbirthday and that the club would not be compensated for the years he was in academy before that age.
So different thoughts in federations or the influence of local sport laws regarding club decisions to invest in football development.
In all example’s clubs tried to sign a professional contract with the player at an earlier age to secure the talent for the club. It is not perfect because at some moments you have to take to early a decision, which you would prefer to take a little later in the players development path.
The best solution is to create a system (preferably universal) that protects clubs from losing players they invested in or to receive a good and fair compensation. However, at some moments you are more or less forced to sign a contract with the player because you want him to be at your club.
All the explanations above related is more related to professional clubs but should also count on amateur level. An amateur club that is organizing a quality academy should also be protected.
Let’s hope agents, intermediaries our lawyers support your development path for the player and not that they try use it and profile themselves and your player at other clubs!