JOHANNESBURG – The January transfer window might not be busier than the August window that clubs use to build their squads for the upcoming season but it’s a trickier period for everyone involved.
Clubs have to intricately balance between strengthening their squad while ensuring that they keep the players they need for whatever challenge they are mounting be it surviving relegation, trying to finish in the top eight, fighting for the championship or finalising the squad they will take to the continent.
What makes the period tricky is that a number of players have six months remaining in their contracts which means that they can sign a new contract with any other team which will come into effect on July 1.
“A lot of dynamics come into play because of that,” Tim Sukazi of QT Sports – which counts Steve Komphela, Mulomowandau Mathoho and Daine Klate among its clients, said. “When a player signs a contract - I don’t like the word pre-contract because legally it’s a contract that will come into effect on July 1 - that triggers a lot of movements.
“Some clubs would say that since you have made your intentions clear about wanting to move, we can fast-track that and you leave earlier than July.
A small compensation fee is involved for that deal to come into effect, and it’s a win-win situation.
“The club that signed the player gets him early for a smaller fee than they would have paid for an outright sale if he didn’t have six months left in his contract. His former club gets something for a player that they would have lost for free in six months.
“That club would then try to replace that player in what starts a domino effect.”
SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits have been masters of operating in this period. Matsatsantsa a Pitori didn’t spend a cent for Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Reyaad Pieterse, Thuso Phala and Clayton Daniels.
The Clever Boys on Tuesday announced three signings on pre-contracts – Thobani Mncwango, Robyn Johannes and Dennis Weidlich
The club’s best signing on a pre-contract was Gabadinho Mhango. But that deal wasn’t without complications.
Bloemfontein Celtic were so angry with the move that they kicked Mhango out of the club.
Some players have been made to train with the reserves or even the Under-19s while they serve out their last six months.
“It’s sad that some of these things happen in the South African market,” Sukazi said “The truth is that there isn’t much that we can do as players’ representatives on the matter because a club could argue that the player is not fit or he isn’t in the coach’s plans. It will take a very good argument to argue against that in the PSL DC (Premier Soccer League’s disciplinary committee) should you take the matter there.”
The key to surviving this period, especially losing players for free, is to ensure that players you still want to keep are tied up early - before six months are left in their contract.
Teams with big squads use their fringe players as bargaining chips to offer a club money and a player for their target.
Players can also use this time to their advantage by using the possibility of leaving for free as a bargaining tool for an improved contract.