Portsmouth chief Mark Catlin: How football's exploring keeping out-of-contract players for additional month

Mark Catlin has revealed football is considering allowing out-of-contract players to remain available up to a month after their deals expire.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 7:00 am
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin believes players should remain at clubs a month after their contracts expire. Picture: Joe Pepler

However, he fears the situation will be dogged by fresh difficulties beyond the end of July.

As it stands, players whose contracts end on June 30 – and are left without a club – are entitled to an additional month of ‘severance’ pay.

That standard contractual arrangement has prompted the suggestion of free agents continuing playing for former clubs during that final month of payment – taking them to July 31.

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There is still no indication of when the Premier League and Football League campaigns will resume.

However, there remains the possibility for a finish stretching into July, impacting on those out-of-contract players.

But Catlin feels there is now a potential solution to that initial problem.

Pompey’s chief executive said: ‘For players out of contract at the end of June, the current legalities are they will have a month’s severance pay, it’s a standard clause.

‘So if they haven’t found another club in that month they will continue to be paid.

‘We have that flexibility, so let’s use that month to carry on playing for your existing club.

‘From what I am led to believe from players, the EFL and PFA, I think they would be amenable to make that work.

‘However, if you go beyond the end of July, then you really will run into difficulties if players are out of contract and not prepared to sign a new (short-team) deal.

‘They could easily say: “Why should I sign a new deal? You are not giving me a new contract, you have made it perfectly clear. I’m going to be out of contract in a few weeks with no club to go to, so why am I going to risk getting injured, it’s my livelihood.

‘You can understand it from a player’s point of view.’

Pompey have Christian Burgess, Luke McGee, Brett Pitman, Oli Hawkins, Adam May, Lee Brown, Brandon Haunstrup and Matt Casey out of contract after June 30.

But Catlin believes retaining all of them on short-term deals to complete the season beyond July 31 is unenforceable.

He added: ‘There is no legal obligation for clubs to offer those players another month (after July 31).

‘They might decide to play with youth-team players, which then throws the whole integrity of the league on its head.

‘You can’t force people to extend contracts, legally you can't. It doesn’t matter what clubs, the EFL, Fifa or Uefa say – you have a contract with a player which ends on a certain date.

‘Whether the player wants to extend or the club wants to extend, there is no law in the country which can enforce that.

‘It’s a contract, there is no obligation to extend, and, conversely, you can’t demand a player sign a new contract.

‘You really run into difficulties beyond the end of July.’

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