[FAQ] Can I Still Sign for a Club in Europe After the Transfer Window is closed?

As the summer transfer window gradually tick down every second of the day and will eventually close on September 1, by 6pm for Premier League (Time may differ in other EU leagues), agitated players who haven’t been able to find a club keeps calling me to ask this question: “Can I still Sign for a Club in Europe, China or U.S after the Transfer Window come to a close?

My answer may not be outright YES or NO!
I do not assume that everybody knows that football players are divided into two categories: Amateurs and Professionals, so I have to take time to explain all the transfer market operations here.

For instance, if you are playing football with your friends or for a club in unofficial matches, it doesn’t mean that you are an (official) amateur.

The difference between official and unofficial amateur
Actually all players (amateur as well) must be registered with an association to be eligible to participate in organized football. The only difference between official and unofficial amateur is the registration with a Football Association. For instance, a player who has registered and participated in a Federation Cup in Nigeria is already an official Amateur.

The difference between a Professional player and an Amateur player
In the other hand, the difference between a Professional and an Amateur is that a professional player has a written employment contract with a Professional club and registered in a country's Professional league. The player is paid a contract fee called “Sign on Fee.” ...such a huge sum of money as it is in main stream Europe and China today.

The employment contract bond the player to the club. That means the player belongs to the club within the stripulated period of the contract. And the club has right to place a monetary value on the player; in case another club want to buy out the contract

So if you are getting paid allowance or bonus per match and you use that money just to cover your transportation expenses only, this means that you are an amateur football player, OFFICIAL only if you are registered with your association.

But an Amateur club has no real right to its player. At best a Training Compensation could be remitted to the Amateur club or Academy when their player is transferred to a professional club in Europe. (It doesn't really apply in domestic transfers made within Nigerian clubs).

How to get registered or transferred as a professional or amateur?

For Professional player
A professional player may only get registered or transferred into Europe during one of the two annual registration periods (also known as the summer and winter transfer window), however there is one exception to the rule.

A professional whose contract expires before the end of a transfer window and is now unemployed (or in the case of just cause for termination of a contract), may be registered later in the season, but only if a national association confirms the transfer or registration. And transfers like this are usually a big exceptions as the association must consider the integrity of the deal as whole.

A player who has mutually agreed with his club on the early termination of the employment relationship before the close of the transfer window also falls under this exception and can search for a new club during the season.

Let us sum up. So called “free agents” (players) do not have to be signed during the normal transfer window, but if they are signed by a team, they will most likely be able to be registered and play for it only after the next transfer window

For amateur Players
For Amateur competitions, the national association specifies the periods when players may be transferred and/or registered and so the amateur transfer windows differ in each country.

In cases where associations don’t specify the dates (and there are plenty of them) a player can transfer domestically at any time during the season. However associations can limit the registration of the player (for example) to a maximum of three different clubs in one season, or establish that in the last rounds of the competition no new players can be registered.

The point is this, both a Free Agent Player and an Amateur player can be transferred to a professional club in Europe at any time, except other rules in that country's Association books contravenes the transfer. But the player can only be registered to play at the next mid season open window.

Transfer window in the country you want to play in
The transfer window in Europe is not the same with that of China for instance. China's pre-season transfer window open in January and close in February/march.

And the case of Nigeria Professional Football league (NPFL), pre-season registration of players may start in December and close a week before the commencement of the league.

The transfer window of a given football association governs only international transfers into that football association. International transfers out of an association are always possible to those associations that have an open window. The transfer window of the association that the player is leaving does not have to be open.

The last exception to the rule
Outside of the transfer window, a club may still sign players on an emergency basis, basis. For instance, if they have no goalkeeper available. Special dispensation from their competition’s governing body, like in the Premier Leagur, require that club sign a goalkeeper immediately despite the fact that the transfer window has since closed.

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