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PRETORIA – Bidvest Media, which trades as MSC Sports and is 50 percent owned by JSE-listed international services, trading and distribution company Bidvest, has been fined for fixing the commission it charged football players and coaches for negotiating and concluding new contracts, transfers and commercial contracts.

This follows MSC Sports entering into a settlement agreement with the Competition Commission, which was confirmed by the Competition Tribunal on Wednesday. In terms of the settlement agreement, MSC agreed to pay a R90 013.16 fine for contraventions of the Competition Act.

Kwena Mahlakoana, appearing for the commission, told a tribunal hearing the consent agreement resulted from the investigation of a complaint initiated by the commission against the SA Football Intermediaries Association and its 36 members, which included MSC Sports.

Mahlakoana said the investigation found that from at least 2014 until 2017, MSC Sports and the other respondents agreed on the commission they should charge football players and coaches per transaction and also agreed to fixing trading commission related to negotiating transfer fees and contracts for football players and coaches.

He said MSC Sports and the other respondents further agreed to charge football players and coaches a 20 percent commission fee when negotiating commercial contracts on their behalf.

Mahlakoana said the case was referred to the tribunal for adjudication in October 2017, but prior to it being referred MSC Sports informed the commission of its intention to settle and an agreement was reached after some negotiation.

John Wilson, appearing for MSC Sports, said Bidvest owned 50 percent of MSC Sports, with the balance of the shareholding owned equally by two of the company’s directors, Barney Girnun and Neil Jankelowitz. 

Wilson said MSC Sports did not trade in the “same space” as Bidvest and had five divisions.

These divisions were focused on memorabilia, media solutions, activations, athlete management and agency fees.

Wilson confirmed the prohibited conduct had ended and they would, therefore, have a flexible transfer commission.

“It was always an industry norm to charge any player 10 percent on the contractual fee and 20 percent on a commercial contract. It doesn’t matter what club we negotiated a deal on behalf of a player, it was a standard 10 percent as an industry norm.

“All the agents who have been cited and who are part of this matter have all charged 10 percent historically. We have changed that mindset and we negotiate on an individual basis, but we do have a lower fee now,” he said.

Wilson confirmed MSC Sports was not prevented from approaching and acting on behalf of any player in the country and worldwide.

He said MSC Sports represented players across the market and had players at every single club in South Africa.

Quality Talent Sports, another respondent in the case, previously paid a R114 168.84 fine for price fixing and fixing trading conditions when negotiating transfer fees on behalf of football players and coaches.