Mark Stewart compensation ruling could harm Falkirk in the long-term

The legal wrangling that followed Mark Stewart's transfer from Falkirk to Bradford City could have lasting repurcussions
The legal wrangling that followed Mark Stewart's transfer from Falkirk to Bradford City could have lasting repurcussions
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The Mark Stewart saga may be over after Falkirk were awarded £150,000 - but Falkirk’s pursuit of the cash could have long standing consequences.

The Court of Arbitration partially upheld the Bairns’ award appeal but sliced £60,000 off of the total as Stewart had been a Falkirk first-team player from the age of 20. The final year of his development fee was therefore withdrawn.

That means the very procedure planned to protect clubs with high youth development rates, like Falkirk, could work to the detriment of these clubs.

If a similar scenario to that outlined by the court was applied to likes of Craig Sibbald, Conor McGrandles or Scott Shepherd, Falkirk would only see one or two years’ worth of compensation as each played first-team football regularly from age 16.

The Falkirk Herald, which has led the way on the Stewart scenario since day one, and revealed the age discrepancy which Bradford challenged BEFORE the Bantams had even appealed, and while other newspapers were denying a fee was due at all, has asked FIFA for clarification on the court’s findings which could have a knock-on effect across Europe.

As yet, no repsonse from football’s governing body has been received, but Falkirk and the club lawyers are also believed to have been in contact for advice on the future.

Previous advisory services from FIFA’s legal team and Sandy Bryson of the Scottish Football Association helped the Bairns stick to their guns and net last week’s windfall under the complex compensation procedure.

However the Bairns and Bantams legal fight also highlighted a grey area which the CAS has instructed FIFA to change in their rule books.

As Heraldsport revealed in August 2011, the English football association incorporates a ‘close season’ into their calendar, with seasons starting south of the border on August 1, after the previous one ending on May 31. By FIFA’s Transfer Management system, the mandatory programme for transfers in the football world, seasons stop on May 31 and begin on June 1.

This led to discrepancy over Stewart’s age in the ‘season’ he signed for Bradford and backed the Bantam’s legal challenge.

As a result, FIFA has been instructed by the three judges who chaired the tribunal - two Englishmen and a Norwegian - to re-write the rulebooks following the Falkirk case.