What the DTMS means for NPFL transfers

Wednesday 6 July 2016

/ by Colin Udoh

A little less than a decade ago, while I was editor of GOAlL!, a league-focused weekly paper, I was doing a story about a major transfer transaction between two clubs in the Nigeria Premier League.

The move involved a top player moving from a northern club to a south eastern one. Because he was such a major acquisition, I wanted to do a big story not just about him, but also about the fee.

When I spoke to the chairman of the selling club, he told me the player had been sold for N5million. At the time, that was a big sum in and of itself. I was excited. As part of my story, I called up the chairman of the buying club. 

That was when things got interesting. When I asked him what about the player convinced him to pay N5million, he paused for a moment. Then he told me they didn't pay N5 million, but N8 million.

Further digging revealed that that the actual fee paid for the player was N3million. Unfortunately, a combination of circumstances meant the story could not be published. No one would go on record, and I could not get documents from the clubs to prove the case.

That is one example of the sort of skullduggery that was going on with player transfers in Nigeria. It is why transfer disputes became a regular staple between clubs almost every season.
All due to a total lack of transparency and disdain for contracts in player transfers.
Things have improved considerably with the LMC-led restructuring, but it is still difficult to get actual figures involving domestic transfers in Nigeria. 
When players move abroad from the NPFL, the only time the fee is known is when the foreign club makes it public.
All that is about to change.
On Tuesday, FIFA announced that Nigeria has become the first African country to implement the Domestic Transfer Matching System (DTMS).
What this means in a nutshell is that 
1. ALL domestic transfers, without exception, will go through an electronic database managed by the NFF in partnership with the LMC.
2. Both buying and selling club must upload all details and documents of the transaction onto the system before the transfer can be approved.
3. All documents uploaded during a transfer are uploaded by the clubs themselves. All documents so uploaded on the TMS is considered legal and can be used to settle any transfer disputes.
4. The LMC will have to approve all transfers involving NPFL players after reviewing the documents uploaded. This eliminates the possibility of inadvertent or intentional errors in contracts.
5. The use of Intermediaries (formerly known as agents) will now become mandatory for all transfers in the NPFL and any fees paid to intermediaries (agents), will be reflected on the TMS. What this means is that only approved percentage of fees will be paid to intermediaries.
6. Financial details of all transfers will be available on the TMS.
7. Each player will have a Unique ID on the system. So once entered, players basic details cannot be changed.
8. Once the NFF gets on the FIFA Connect, the DTMS Platform can be used by clubs to determine the status of players, players contract duration and the playing history of the player
What is missing however, is a subscription to the Intermediary Regulatory Tool (IRT) which is required to keep tabs on the activities of Intermediaries (agents).
Nigeria's TMS (both ITMS and DTMS) are managed by Nasiru Jubril, who has had years of training with the FIFA TMS system.

This new tool is a game-changer in terms of how it eliminates the pervasive corruption in the Nigerian transfer system.
No longer will club A claim to have sold a player for N5m and club B claim to have bought the Same player for N8m when the actual cost is N3m.
More, clubs cannot claim to have a player on contract when there was no such contract or claim a transfer fee on a player whose contract has lapsed.
Overall, it is another step towards a better and more transparent league. Combined with more television coverage, improved refereeing, more aesthetic grounds, and return of fans to stadia, it is a sign that Nigerian domestic football is going one way. 

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