Do non-league clubs get a fair deal?

Adriano Moke (right) signed for Town yesterday.
Adriano Moke (right) signed for Town yesterday.

The transfer window may have closed, but there are still bargains to be found at non-league level.

On the face of it, the non-contract agreement seems to be an one that most fans would probably like to see rolled out across the game.

A player only gets paid when he plays. What could be fairer than that?

Without it, clubs at this level would lose a vital source of recruiting players.

With it, clubs at a higher level gain a vital source of recruiting players.

On the one hand, The Shaymen benefited by snapping up Adriano Moke yesterday and Sean Williams for nothing from Colwyn Bay two weeks ago.

But on the other, Dartford, their FA Trophy quarter-final opponents, lost out when their top scorer Harry Crawford left to join Barnet for free recently.

Crawford joined Dartford after leaving Southend last summer, so the Football League had effectively washed their hands of the player.

But Dartford picked him up, dusted him down and turned him into a player good enough to earn a second chance at professional football.

Their reward for this? Nothing.

Surely it’s not beyond the means of those in charge to provide some safeguards for clubs at the lower end of the football food chain.

How about introducing a clause where the transfer is taken to an independent tribunal to arrange a fee if the player is moving to a Football League club? Or if the player has been at the club for at least three years?

Football is a business like any other, and therefore is subject to the free market.

But in a free market, you get losers as well as winners.

What’s Dartford’s motivation to nurture the next young player that comes along when he might be snatched away for nothing a year down the line?

You could argue that non-league clubs should try to tie these players down to longer-term contracts and that they know the risks by entering into a non-contract arrangement.

But money is in short supply below the Football League, and without non-contract deals, I would imagine most teams would not be able to pay the bills every month.

Crystal Palace were suitably recompensed for all the hard work they put in to developing Wilfried Zaha’s talents when £15m from Manchester United landed in their bank account.

Yet a non-league club would have got nothing if the player was on a non-contract. That doesn’t really seem fair.

Would you like to see a rule change or do you think the system works?