1 October 2010 will be circled in red on the calendars of professional football clubs around the world. This is the day on which the current global transfer system will be revolutionised and replaced by a new, 100 per cent electronic procedure. From that point onwards, all international transfers of professional footballers will be carried out within a new web-based system called the Transfer Matching System (TMS), with the aim being to unify all player transfers around the world and make them more transparent.

Player transfers have been done on paper for more than 50 years now, but in the 21st century, and with all the technology there is available today, it is now possible to make the transfers easier, quicker and, above all, more transparent.

A dedicated team has been developing and improving the system, which has been available to all FIFA member associations and their clubs, in the four official FIFA languages, for the past two-and-a-half years. A total of 144 member associations (including all UEFA and CONMEBOL members) and 2,010 clubs have already received the necessary training and are using the system to carry out player transfers. The clubs provided a lot of good feedback, which has enabled the TMS to be continuously improved.

The TMS will be taken on board from 1 October 2010 as part of the rules governing the status and transfer of players, and will thus become obligatory for all international player transfers. By the time this day comes around, between 3,000 and 4,000 clubs the world over will already be using the TMS for all transfers of professional footballers.

Increased transparency and efficiency
An important part of the programme is the setting up of what is called a ‘clearing house’ to monitor the correct payment of transfer fees. Player transfers can only be made between clubs, preventing prohibited schemes of third-party influences and fighting money-laundering.

The aim is to ensure that the money for a player transfer goes straight from one club to another. No player transfers can be carried out without the necessary bank data of the two clubs, increasing the transparency in international transfers.

This will particularly make player transfers quicker at the end of the transfer windows in summer and winter, and cut down on paperwork. Moreover, clubs will continually be reminded of the deadline by means of a clock counting down. Should the time frame have exceeded, then the transfer will no longer be able to be completed. Any justification for going beyond the deadline must then, without exception, be submitted to the FIFA Players' Status Committee, which will decide as to the validity of the transfer.

The first ever electronic transfer certificate was drawn up in September 2009, when Jean-Joel Perrier-Doumbe left Scottish club Celtic to play in the French Ligue 1 for Toulouse. The Glasgow giants also hold the record for the fastest-ever transfer to date via TMS, which took a mere seven minutes in total. The player in question was already allowed to turn out for his new team the same afternoon. During the recent transfer window, 2,500 transfers were carried out using the new electronic system.

Data protection is also fully guaranteed, with the information regarding a specific transfer only available to the clubs and associations involved, as well as FIFA as world football’s governing body. Transfer details thus remain off-limits to outsiders.

The TMS team will be working meticulously and under a great deal of pressure over the coming months to train the remaining member associations and their professional clubs, and make sure the new Transfer Matching System will be ready in time for 1 October 2010.