Okay, here's what is going on, as best as I can ascertain, in the ongoing saga of Fred, DCU, MLS, Melbourne Victory and the Australian league.
Fred has signed a contract with United/MLS. It is a standard, four-year deal (one year, plus three league-held option years). His base salary the first season is for approximately $150,000 -- considerably more than Melbourne was initially offering. He has received his U.S. work visa and could very well arrive in Washington with his agents/representatives by the end of the week. All that remains is for the Australian federation to process the international transfer certificate.
Yes, Fred is technically under contract with the Australian league until June 30, but FIFA guidelines allow a player to negotiate and sign a contract with another club within six months of his current deal expiring. Thus, as of Jan. 1, Fred was permitted to pursue a new contract. There are also questions as to whether his contract truly expires March 31 or June 30. From what I have been told, his deal with MELBOURNE ends this month, but his deal with the LEAGUE ends in June. Another issue is the validity of the documents Fred signed that keep him under contract with the LEAGUE through June, but I am not going to get into that right now.
It is a common practice internationally -- a professional courtesy, I suppose -- for clubs to terminate the last few months of a contract with a departing player. (I believe that is what happened when Ryan Nelsen decided to leave DCU for Blackburn Rovers in 2004.) Melbourne apparently is not wiling to do this, perhaps thinking they can claim a transfer fee.
So what happens now?
Sources tell me that United and Melbourne have scheduled a conference call for Wednesday evening (Thursday in Melbourne) to discuss the matter. Melbourne could play hardball and retain a player who will never play for them again, in which case, DCU would:
*attempt to have the June 30 date invalidated and hope to officially add Fred on April 1
*wait out Melbourne and acquire him on July 1
*pay off Melbourne for an immediate transfer
I don't think United/MLS has any intention of sending the Victory a fat check. And if there is no resolution, the Victory's reputation internationally could take quite a hit.
It's an interesting case, one that I am still trying to fully understand. I have described the situation as best as I could. I'm sure we will learn more in the coming days.
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