The FA confirmed late last night (30 November 2023) that the proposed Fee Cap and Pro Rata Payment Rules in the proposed National Football Agent Regulations (NFAR), which sought to implement FIFA's Agent Regulations (FFAR), has been found to be in breach of UK Competition Law.
What does this mean?
In light of this significant decision, the FA is unable to implement the NFAR in the UK in its current form and it has confirmed that it is considering the implications of the decision. It has said that it will provide an update when it can. For now, we are still waiting for the Rule K Tribunal to issue its findings, which will likely give us a better idea as to the extent of the changes that the FA, and indeed FIFA, may decide to take next.
While the new licensing system itself (including the need for agents to pass the FIFA football agent exam) does not appear to have been considered in this challenge, these regulations, alongside some of the other significant changes contained within the FFAR and NFAR (considered by us in greater detail here), such as the restrictions on multi-party representation, will not now come into force in relation to UK-related agent activity. However, agents will still need a licence for undertaking activity in many other, but not all, countries.
What is the position overseas?
There are still a number of other on-going legal challenges to the FFAR across Europe. This has resulted in agents having to deal with a patchwork of different regulations when dealing with international transfers; bringing uncertainty to agents, clubs and players alike.
For example, in Germany, the relevant agent regulations were suspended for all transactions with a "link to the German market" (which, we have considered in greater detail here). In France and Italy, a limited and partial version of the FFAR has been implemented (such as a 10% cap on commission in France, and the continuance of dual-representation in certain circumstances in Italy).
A key moment, for all of these challenges, will be the decision by the European Court of Justice, which is expected next year, and will hopefully bring some much-needed clarity to this issue.