Jeremy Helan is still trying to establish in the French courts that the pre-contract he signed as a 13 year old with Rennes is invalid. According to The Independent, the case has now reached a French labour tribunal after being rejected by the French League commissions and the French Olympic Committee.
The disputed pre-contract stated that a two year contract would be triggered if Helan represented France while at the Clairefontaine academy. He did, skippering the under-16 side. Speaking yesterday, the Rennes technical director, Pierre Dreossi, stated:
“We had a meeting with Manchester United and they made us an offer about this player.
“We discussed the offer once but United [realised the position] and said: ‘It is not possible to make a deal with you as you do not want to sell.’ They said, ‘fair play,’ and it was closed but the player went in secret to Manchester City.
“Our letters to City said it was not possible to sign him as he was our player. City have played him anyway but they can’t. It’s forbidden. He has a contract with us and can’t have a contract with two clubs. We told them that.”
Apparently letters were sent to City’s George Davies (City’s solicitor), Garry Cook, and Khaldoon al Mubarak. However, City are currently sticking to their guns according to The Independent:
City remain confident that they acted entirely within the bounds of football law in the new case. Legal advice was sought on the validity of the original contract, which HÃƒÂ©lan signed at the age of 13 before heading for the French Football Federation’s (FFF) famed Clairefontaine academy, and the response is understood to include the conclusion that it was void on at least three grounds.
What these grounds are, remains unknown. As I said yesterday, City would look to be ok if Helan wins his latest legal case, but given he has already lost two, this can hardly be said to be a given.
If he loses the case, then City may be in trouble as FIFA and Platini seem to be cracking down on the big Premier League clubs while they seek to pass new regulations on the movements of young players.
One thing to bear in mind is that the Kakuta case, for which Chelsea have just been found guilty, dates from 2007. Dreossi himself said that the Heron case may take years to resolve. If during this time City looked like losing, could we just use our wealth to come to a financial settlement with Rennes, and get them to drop the charges?
It may not be the most ethical solution, but it would surely be better for City than a transfer ban.
City have become the latest Premier League side to be accused of unlawfully signing a youngster. This time it’s French club Rennes doing the accusing and Jeremy Helan the player in question.
The Independent broke the story, and FIFA have since released a statement to confirm they are investigating it:
“We can confirm that there is a case pending with Fifa’s Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City.”
Helan, now 17,Ã‚Â joined City in February and was captain of the French U-16 side. He was a product of the Clairefontaine academy and touted as the “new Patrice Evra”, which translates as he’s young, a left-back, and French. Inevitably he was being watched by numberous clubs and Sky Sports reported in May 2008, that United had bid for him ahead of of Inter, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Newcastle and Everton.
Helan’s mother was then quoted as being happy with him moving to Manchester:
“I don’t see the difference between him being at Rennes or in Manchester as long as he is in a good environment.
“Internazionale, Newcastle, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Everton also contacted him. Money will not make his choice.
“To him, Manchester offers the best career path.”
However, she did acknowledge a dispute over the pre-contract agreement that Jeremy had signed with Rennes when he was 13.
“My son has signed a pre-contract with Rennes and we called for a specialist to look at it.”
Rennes appear to argue that if Helan played for the French youth team, which he did, then he would be tied to them. Helan disagrees, and believes he was free to sign for City (who he subsequently chose ahead of all the other clubs) after serving a period of not playing for anyone. The view from Rennes was stated by their technical director, Pierre Dreossi:
“Manchester City must now realise the consequences of their attitude in the HÃƒÂ©lan case as it is even more illegal than Kakuta.
“We have referred this to Fifa. For us it was strange to have no discussion from City and now, in the week after the Fifa declaration on Chelsea, I would hope that it will be the same thing for Manchester City. Kakuta signed up for just a possibility of a full contract. For HÃƒÂ©lan there was definitely one there, under the terms of the pre-contract agreement, because he had played for his country. Manchester United said it was not possible to negotiate with us but for City now this is dangerous, though we are not expecting a decision from Fifa for perhaps several years.”
Interestingly, one of the key things for the move to be considered above board seems to be an International Transfer Certificate (ITC), which apparently has been given, but Rennes claim was done so by mistake.
City have now announced:
“Manchester City is aware of the ongoing contractual dispute in the French Labour Courts between Jeremy Helan and Stade Rennais. The dispute between the player and the Club pre-dates any interest from Manchester City.
“Manchester City obviously cannot comment on the case until the French Judicial Process has run its course, however we are comfortable that we have acted within the rules throughout the process and in no way induced any breach of contract by Jeremy Helan.”
If the Court case finds in favour of Helan, and the ITC is legitimate, then City could be in the clear. If the court case were to go againsts Helan, then it looks like it could get messy. Given the severity of Chelsea’s punishment, and both FIFA and Michel Platini’s apparent desire to crack down on the power of the big clubs, particularly in the Premier League, then there could be the risk of similar sanctions.
A transfer ban at the moment would hurt City in particular as our squad is still evolving. While we won’t be making the same number of deals in coming transfer windows, the squad is likely to need some tweaking. If we qualify for the Champions League, then it’s almost certain that ADUG would be looking to bring in additional quality.
It’s quite possible that Chelsea will have their ban reduced, and Dreossi said Rennes were not expecting a decision from FIFA for several years. This would seem to lessen the danger of any punishment. Being banned for a single January transfer window would be a lot more manageable than a ban that included a Summer window.
The Chelsea ban came out of the blue, and the big clubs will doubtless be taking extra care in their dealings with young players from now on. The concern is that aggrieved clubs can smell money and a host of old gripes will now be taken to FIFA. Whether FIFA has deliberately instigated such a rush is intriguing.
The movement of young players has always been a dubious business and I doubt few clubs are wholly innocent. The laws vary from country to country, and the amount of money in the game encourages unscrupulous agents, who will always be looking to ‘make the deal’.
Given the extent of global scouting nowadays, there is clearly a need to tighten up the rules and make them transparent to everyone. FIFA and Platini want to do this. That’s ok as long as the rules are equal and not overly restrictive. In England a player can currently sign professional terms at 16, while there have also been requests for transfers of under 18’s to be banned. This would result in youngsters like Helan receiving some mighty 18th birthday presents, but a club like City could afford that.
Maybe the ban handed out to Chelsea is FIFA’s way of pushing the big clubs down the road of accepting their proposed changes. Others may now be willing to accept a few restrictions if they can avoid a similar draconian punishment.