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Bosman & The Court Case That Changed Football Forever in 1995 (Simplified)

Ever wondered why players have so much power nowadays. Well, it’s largely down to the work of Jean-Marc Bosman.

If you haven’t heard the term ‘Bosman signing‘ before, then I’d encourage you to go and watch The Teletubbies as you are far too young to be reading this.

Sorry, that was rude. You’re far too stupid to be reading this. Wait …

Put simply, a Bosman transfer is the same as a free transfer – when a player is permitted to move without a transfer fee from one club to another upon the expiration of their contract. Or, when a player has been without a club for a long while and, regardless of whether or not they’re in a transfer window period, are able to negotiate with any club that comes in for them.

It’s very, very common in the modern game, but once upon a time it wasn’t. 

And it required some Belgian player with a double-barrelled first name to change things beyond recognition. Literally, one guy changed it all – with the help of a few lawyers, of course.

When he was playing in the early ’90s, status quo dictated that ‘free agency’ wasn’t really a thing.

Back then, regardless of whether or not your contract expired with your current club, that club were still required to receive a fee from another if they wanted to take you of their hands. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

The club that were no longer paying you were legally entitled to receive some money for another club to start paying you. 


Plus, in this time’s climate under relative new laws with the European Union, Bosman and his representatives believed that restricting his move to another club directly contravened some of the new doctrines enshrined into the Union’s creation.

Namely, the ‘Free Movement of Trade’ idea which should have allowed Bosman to move from one European club to another, provided that working conditions were fair and conscionable.

But this is football we’re talking about. The ‘beautiful’ game which is run by some of the most old-fashioned people around, so it was never going to be as black and white as I’m making out

I mean, how long did it take for goal-line technology to get introduced?


In fact, we might be doing a piece soon here on the Twelfth Media blog so go into how FIFA were made to finally enact a goal-line technology policy. So, be sure you stay tuned for that!

So, even though it may have taken five long years in a legal battle in the European Court of Human Rights, Bosman was granted his appeal when his own career came under threat when he wasn’t as free as he was promised to negotiate with other clubs once his current contract had stalled. 

What resulted was a rule that changed the European transfer game forever.

At Twelfth, we are going to make it our duty to discuss and reveal as many key stories to the footballing world as possible, but very few will be able to have the impact that Bosman’s did.

In one fell swoop, he removed a significant amount of bargaining power from football clubs and gave them to the players that used to have very little control over their own careers.

The result of which increased the influence of the players’ representatives in these discussions and has since given rise to some of the most outrageous and audacious transfers of all time. 

It made the game a lot more interesting, that’s for sure.

And currently, with agents getting savvier by the day, it appears that even the mere threat of losing a player to a Bosman move, is enough to warrant a premature contract, an inflated transfer fee or a sooner-than-necessary move away to interested suitors – all for the sake of recouping some of their initial investments on them. 

Interesting … and very murky indeed.

Oh yeah, and Brexit might mean that English clubs won’t be able to benefit from this rule from the 1st January 2021 onwards, but that will not stop other clubs from benefitting from it in regards to their players. 

This is going to be good once more clubs clock onto it!

We hope you enjoyed this ‘simplified’ feature on the famous Bosman rule. Be sure to follow our page for updates on the blog, and here’s a piece we think you’d like to take a look at too!

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