The Carlsberg South West Peninsula League’s transfer system has come under close scrutiny for the second time in as many months after a letter sent by Penryn AFC to league secretary Phil Hiscox warned that without a change to the rules, clubs may be forced out of business.
In the letter, entitled ‘Observations regarding the undesirable conduct of manipulating the 28-day transfer rule,’ Penryn officials claim the league’s failure to adapt could prove fatal for some clubs, and blames players for the parlous state of the game in Cornwall.
It comes in the wake of recent transfer controversy involving Falmouth Town players Jamie Devine and Wayne Quinn, who were able to join Newquay by exploiting a loophole which prevents the signing of two players from the same club within a 28 day period.
Instead, Quinn and Devine signed for Exmouth and St Dennis respectively, allegedly using the two division one clubs as proxies before making the switch to Mount Wise at a later date.
“Club finances have been in a spiral of decline for the last three or four years,” the letter begins, “and for most of us there is no way back.
“Gone are profit-making clubhouses and corporate sponsorship has nearly gone.
“We have just witnessed the finest sporting year ever for our country, and yet some clubs, some managers but mostly players have no regard for the clubs they have committed to.
“We hear about rule loopholes and human rights of the individual. This is a nonsense, but typical of the low excuses that are made.”
The letter continues: “When you sign for a club the season is clearly indicated on the registration form, and it should not be such a great hardship to honour that commitment.
“We have already lost a number of clubs in the Peninsula League, and there are plenty more close to the edge.
“It seems that no club is immune from a ‘melt-down’ at any time. Finding team managers is becoming an impossible task because of the temporary commitment and apathy of players.”
The letter stresses that the current system makes it too easy for players to move on, particularly if their parent club are struggling with poor form.
“This despicable band wagon jumping from players should be stopped,” it says, “and the ancient 28-day rule should apply right across the board. In local football in Germany they have an identity card system that takes three months to complete.”
But the real crux of the message comes later on when it references recent events involving suspicious transfer activity.
“It is not acceptable that two clubs, and in this case three, conspire against another.
“At the very least the league should publically denounce these clubs and ask them why they felt justified in circumventing a clearly written, longstanding rule.
“We all know that this old chestnut keeps popping up, and has done for years, and to a large extent the ringer syndrome has been curtailed.”
Newquay’s recent approach for fit-again Falmouth striker Matt Drummond has further fuelled a debate raging on the Cornwall Soccer Forum website questioning the Peppermints’ behaviour in trying to exploit the unrest at Bickland Park following Alan Carey’s departure as manager.
Porthleven manager Dennis Annear said: “There’s no loyalty anymore.
“You see players sat on a bench for two weeks saying ‘well I’m not staying here’ and off they go.
“I think if you move to a club then you’ve got to stay there at least 28 days, then clubs have got to abide by that, they can’t just waive it.
“Managers need greater control rotating their squads around, and they’d get that if they knew players couldn’t move and had to work their way back into the side.”
Falmouth Town co-manager Les Gilbert agreed, saying: “This season everything seems to have got out of hand
“It’s difficult because sometimes someone moves to a club and it doesn’t work out, but I think something needs to be done because it’s getting almost comical now.
“If everyone was on a level playing field financially then that would help because people wouldn't go for the money, but until that happens I can’t see things changing.”