Soccer transfers may be in line for another Bosman-style shake-up as a former League of Ireland striker considers taking legal action to seek more freedom for journeymen players to move clubs.
English-born frontman Joe Yoffe, 26, who played during 2011 for Galway United and is currently plying his trade in for the Icelandic second division outfit Selfoss, is planning to challenge FIFA regulations that he says limits his freedom of movement and his ability to earn a living as a professional footballer.
The Manchester-born player is facing an uncertain future as his contract runs out at the end of September and he will not be allowed to register for a new club until January.
Despite being able to sign for free as a Bosman player, clubs in some European countries cannot register him until their transfer windows open again in January – something Yoffe says limits his right to free movement of labour guaranteed under EU law.
"You come to the end of your contract and you can't sign for three or four months for a new employer" - Joe Yoffe
Yoffe says he is now considering a legal challenge to the transfer regulations to make it easier for players in his position to find new employers.
"It's something I've thought seriously about and there's a number of players in my position who should do the same," said Yoffe, adding that he hoped legal action would not be necessary to enable him to sign for a new club.
As well as playing in Ireland and Iceland, Yoffe has played for lower league and semi-professional clubs in England, Spain, Canada, and Australia.
If he goes ahead with his challenge it could have the biggest impact on the transfer market since 1995 when Belgian journeyman Jean-Marc Bosman won a ruling from the European Court of Justice that banned transfer fees for players out of contract.
"Players at the top end of the game are so financially independent that it doesn't really affect them" - Joe Yoffe
FIFA's transfer rules also currently limit to two the number of clubs that players can represent in a calendar year, meaning that players such as Yoffe – who often sign for cash-strapped clubs on short-term contracts – face enforced spells on the sidelines as they wait to become eligible again.
"Players at the top end of the game are so financially independent that it doesn't really affect them," Yoffe said.
"But for those of us yet to reach that level, it's very difficult."
With 10 goals in as many games for Selfoss this season, he should be a hot property on the Scandinavian transfer market – had it not been for the existing rules.
"You come to the end of your contract and you can't sign for three or four months for a new employer – there's no other job out there where that would be the case," he said.
Last month UEFA president Michel Platini bemoaned the treatment of players as commodities, describing the current transfer system as "robbery" and said that "something more healthy" was needed to replace it.