anything out of it. By the same token, if a social runner develops through the ranks into a solid contender and is made an offer by an elite club, why should they not take it? One of SA’s few true professional runners, Stephen Mokoka, mixing it with international elites at the FNB Durban 10 CITYSURFRUN Looking for Leadership How then do you determine guidelines? This is where Athletics South Africa should possibly step in. For example, the national federation could set up a ranking/label system, so an athlete that has gone from running 20 minutes for 5km, to 16 minutes, would be upgraded to a certain label, say blue, which would make the athlete worth a certain amount. In other words, just as the elite’s on the global athletic stage have Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze labels based on their performance, so too could you use a label system to show how an athlete has improved. becomes a free agent when his contract expires – and can then join any club he chooses, provided that club will give him a contract to join its playing staff. In such free moves, no transfer fee is paid, and understandably, Club A usually feels aggrieved that the player has left and there is no “return on investment,” hence clubs either try to get players to sign extended contracts before their current contract expires, or sell players who choose not to extend, before they can leave for free. This is, broadly, how the football transfer market works at professional level, but at amateur level, things are a bit different. If club A develops a young amateur player who then moves to another amateur club at the end of a given season, no compensation or transfer fee can be claimed, and the player must be allowed to leave if he is in good standing with his club. However, if Club B then subsequently on-sells the player to a professional club, Club A is entitled to a portion of the transfer fee commensurate with the time and effort put into developing that player. So, for example, if Club A had the player on its books for four years, then Club B got six years of service from the player before on-selling, it means Club A is entitled to 40% of the transfer fee, versus 60% for Club B. years, and therefore wants at least that amount, but which elite club in SA has R50,000 available to spend on a single transfer fee? The elite clubs would first have go back to their sponsors and argue why there should be a transfer fee budget available in the first place. So, that’s a big red flag... but should the developing clubs just accept losing out on their investment? They are contributing towards the development of the sport and will continue to do so, and they would be able to do that better if they had more resources available, including incoming transfer fees for outgoing athletes. Without something along these lines, non-elite clubs could turn around and say it is not in their interests to develop the next generation of elites if they do not get It is worth mentioning here, again, that internationally, elite athletes with a label status do not get paid retainers by clubs, they get paid retainers by sponsors, invariably apparel or shoe companies. And of course, their label status determines what sort of appearance fee they can demand. But we are talking about club transfers here, not appearance fees, so any new system will need clarity from national level down to social level. Thus the lead would have to be taken by ASA in conversation with the clubs, both elite and social, to find a workable solution. If this were to happen, it would be groundbreaking, something not found anywhere else in the world, and with trail-blazing comes many challenges and obstacles, but this conversation will not go away any time soon, so it needs to be looked into. For a solution to be found, all parties involved need to be part of this conversation, and key elements need to be defined, such as what exactly is a pro club? As things currently stand, there is no clear or simple solution to this scenario, so the conversation will continue, both at club gazebos and in board rooms. We are still a very long way from finding a workable solution. How does one put a Rand value on talented SA youngsters like Adrian and Nadeel Wildschutt, who have earned athletic scholarships to study in the USA To be clear, the transfer system in football often gets circumvented or challenged, and after well over 100 years of professionalism, the sport is still having to constantly amend its rules to keep up with ever-changing labour laws, financial constraints, the growing role of agents, and more. So how can road running utilise this model? Well, one suggestion that has been bandied about would be to adopt some of the guidelines for the transfer of athletes being developed, but not for those athletes already established. (That is a whole different conversation.) So, if non-elite running club A has over the past five years developed an athlete to the point that elite club B is interested in signing this athlete, should club A receive some form of compensation when the athlete leaves? The first question that needs answering is how do you put a rand value to an athlete? Club A could argue it spent R50,000 on the athlete over five 24 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Manfred Seidler is a freelance Olympic sport journalist who has been in the industry since 1994, in both print media and broadcasting, covering four Olympic Games for SABC Radio, and producing various athletics shows for the SABC. Follow him on Twitter: @sportmansa; Facebook: Sport Man SA; Instagram: sportman_sa. ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / www.modernathlete.co.za Will it Work in Running?