Soccer slams door on player transfers

  • New rule restricts player movement for ages 9-13 in Lac St. Louis.
    New rule restricts player movement for ages 9-13 in Lac St. Louis.
    Photo credit: Gazette file

For years, local soccer players were like free agents, permitted to move from club to club without much of a roadblock.
Unlike hockey, where residency dictates you play where you live, soccer permitted player movement unheard of in most other sports.
Not surprisingly, allowing free player movement had its positives and negatives.
Some teams stockpiled top players, while lesser teams – often from smaller clubs – struggled to hold on to their better players.
For years now, some intercity coaches would brazenly “poach” top players from rival teams in an effort to stack their team.
Naturally, this led to some bitter feelings between clubs.
Teams on the receiving end of imported players – often Lakeshore and Pierrefonds – could argue they were merely building toward elite AAA status, which begins at the U-14 level under the club reforms brought down  years ago by Soccer Quebec.
But teams on the losing end of player transfers saw no light at the end of the development tunnel. “We develop our players, then the big clubs swoop in and whisk them away.”
A form of soccer Darwinism had taken hold here, for better or worse.
 Well, the Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association has decided to nix player movement between clubs for the upcoming season for players between the ages of 9 and 13.
   Apparently, there will be “exceptions” to the rule. (Aren’t there always exceptions in soccer?)
Here’s an example:  If a club does not field a AA team at the U-11, U-12 and U-13 levels, a player can ask to transfer to a club that does offer such a AA program.
But those transfer requests must be approved by the club’s technical director and then the region.
If the light is still green, the imported player’s family is on the hook for a $300 transfer fee.
This non-refundable free agent tax will discourage some parents, but not all.
How much this new rule affects the soccer landscape remains to be seen.
Lakeshore president Nick Pantemis has already issued a “hands off” notice to his coaches: “Please do not accept out of club players at your upcoming tryouts in November-December.”
But does this new measure come too late to even the playing field?
So much player movement has already taken place in recent years, this may be a case of closing the barn door after all the thoroughbreds have already left.


  1. For many kids this rule change is far too late. Rather than develop kids areas, including and especially Pierrefonds, have poached kids from elsewhere to make their teams stacked. It is a vicious cycle. Poach kids leads to stronger team leads to more kids wanting to join team.

    Result is that kids who play in the micro system since U4 get bypassed and pushed to the side so the “superstars” from elsewhere can take their spots. The leadership of the Associations crows about their achievements when in reality they developed very few kids.

  2. I have a few of questions when I see this new rule in LSL Soccer.

    My first is, is there really a problem, if you look at the 6 AA categories (boys/girls) from U-11 to U-13, the average of players movement is 13 per categorie. Considering the amount of players registered which is about 867 if you caculate about 17 players per team, i consider that very little. The Quebec soccer Federation rule actually already has somethin in place to control player movement which is called the 4-2 rule which in my mind was working well.

    My second is, for the ones who are leaving, the question is why. If you actually talk to most parents moving their children, they will tell you is that their current club does not offer the service or level of training they are looking for. If your child is in the West Island and he is a great swimmer where will you send him, he all know that you will look at Pointe-Claire or DDO, and the fact that you dont send him to the Vaudreuil community pool for example is not because you got poach, it’s simply because they have a better service. The clubs that complain just need to start offering the service. Where was Outremont and Pierrefonds on the soccer map now compared to 10 yrs ago, and why Dollard soccer doing so poorly, not because of poaching, it’s because of the lack of quality.

    Thirdly, is the problem really solved. One thing the new rule does not address is that the focus is on Lakeshore and Pierrefonds, when in fact the worst offenders are Hull and Gatineau who are not even in the LSL region but in our league. It is not even clear if Hull and Gatineau will fe forced to follow this rule since offially they are part of the Outaouais soccer region. The risk is that they will both grab the AAA spots from LSL teams when they field teams in our U-13 AA since they average 3 out of club players per team from U-11 to U-13.

    LSL teams used to be the teams to beat in the province, with the new rules which are only to take the focus offt some of the clubs failures, it is going to be a long time until if we ever become a soccer force again.

  3. By Very Concerned

    Not so fast, Lac St. Louis!!! The Quebec Soccer Federation stipulates ALL players are free agents as of December 1 each year and can choose to sign with any club they wish within their region, subject to the 4-2 rule. This is guaranteed under the Regles de Fonctionnement that cover AA and AAA leagues. You might (maybe) get away with no movement at A-level and recreational, which fall under your jurisdiction, but no rule passed at the regional level can override QSF rules for AA and AAA leagues which are governed by the QSF. Any parent of a child changing clubs to play AA at U11, U12, or U13 who challenges the rule to the QSF will win – and I encourage people to do exactly that. Stand up for your rights. As for players in A-level and recreational, parents might have to take the region to court. I hope the LSL has a healthy budget put aside for legal fees, because most player movement takes place for reasons other than poaching. I agree with Sims, the vast majority of players who change clubs do so because of irreconcilable differences between parent and coach or because the current coach or club is not providing what the child needs. If this rule is not struck down, the only thing it will accomplish is to piss off parents of children who are not happy with their coach or club (causing the child to quit soccer and probably join lacrosse, baseball, or summer basketball). Then, once parents learn the system with their first child, they will move their second child before U9. No self-respecting parent will leave their child in a situation that does not make the child happy. Players will take a year off soccer or play house-league in another club for one year before going back to competitive soccer. How is that in the best interest of the child?

  4. By Senior Soccer

    This needs to be put into place with the Senior leagues… I’m tired of playing players from Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Trois Riveriers who play Division 1 up who just want to destroy lower divisions in smaller cities.

  5. By Finally but too late

    The worst offenders are the Lakeshore coaches, where often they have 3 teams in one age group, 1 AA & 2 A teams, however they continue to bring in outside talent to their AA team every year, when they have 32 other players to chose from within their own age group. So much from having a better development program, I wonder how the children from those two other teams feel after working hard for their club simply to be past over for someone from another club.

    Unfortunately the damage is done as these teams have been doing this for a number of years and the damage is done. We will not see parity for another 3 years.

    • By soccermom

      They actually have more, counting house league! At the end of the day, if you are unhappy in a situation, you have the right to move. Bigger is not better – and for some kids, a small club will offer more than any big club will. Less chance of a “cookie cutter” attitude, and coaches who are willing to work at a relationship with you and your child.

  6. Sims,

    excellent reply! However, I will go a little deeper. Clubs with development programs will always attract children that wish to go further in the sport. This new rule says, “too bad, you are stuck with your city team that offers no development” This is clearly the wrong message. What we have done is retard the development of children in a sport they love to play, and furthermore, eliminate them from getting the best possible training. Its this draconian philosophy that puts Canada behind in the development of players. On another note, how will Lac St. Louis teams ever compete with the rest of Canada at Club Nationals?
    time for everyone to wake-up and allow children who aspire to greatness be allowed to chose where they want to play and develop.


    I just hate when people put in replies to an article without the facts! For U14 and above,Lakeshore soccer played by the 4-2 rule, and WOULD ONLY TAKE CHILDREN FROM OTHER CITIES FOR THEIR “AAA”PROGRAM. if they had a team in AAA, Lakeshore would not take a player for their A and AA system.
    U13 and below, again, they would take in players for their U13AA team, develop them to go to AAA.


    • By soccermom

      The problem with this, Lorenzo, is that Quebec Soccer got rid of teams like Lakers, and wants every club to have access to AAA, regardless of size. Why you would think that bigger is always better? Do you think Lakeshore and Pierrefonds have the best programs because you pay through the nose for them? Where do you think a lot that money goes? Do you think John and the rest of the technical staff works for free? To your other point : emails go out to potential parents, whose kids are as young as 9, 10, 11 years old, because big clubs want to start building AAA teams very early on. I have friends who were approached by Lakeshore and Pierrefonds to move clubs at CDR (all kids are under 12)! Further, do you think everyone is happy in the big clubs – nope! Oh, and if you try to leave Lakeshore, count on a phonecall bullying/pressuring you to stay (I know this for a fact!).

  8. We unfortunately are one of the smaller clubs that lose player to mostly Lakeshoe, Pierrefonds and Outremont. Many of their AA, AAA and up comprise 6 or 7 players from our club. If fact we and other small clubs asked and obtained this rule. Bigger clubs can still poach players but there is a cost. If they are willing to snatch these let them.. but pay the price. I don’t understand that people are against this rule yet it exists since a very long time between regions. Example we got 2 AA players from Concordia and we had to pay 675$. Why is it different from withing the region.
    On another note how can small teams with 1 500 players compete with some that have 5 000 players? Just calculate the disposable revenues they have compared to smaller teams? For example can’t we afford a first class technical Director at 70 00$ per year…!

  9. Lets call a spade a spade. Technical staff at some associations get “paid” for coaching AAA. That is all they want. Pierrefonds is all about making AAA. They could care less about A or house league. They use the money for Winter Academy and training of A players to support their elite teams.

    The 4 and 2 rule was killing clubs like DDO and Hudson who lost their top talent in last 3 years.

    The problem is that A level players who want out because of politics cannot leave. The only ones moving around are AA calibre players. So lets not make it out that stopping the movement hurts A and house league players. They could not move to begin with.

    • By soccermom

      I think you’re taking about “mercenary” coaches. These coaches follow the $$$ signs, and are not about making teams better – it’s about the $$$. Good, involved, and caring technical staff deserve any salary they receive from the club. They work hard at it.

      It’s too easy to say that the 4-2 killed any club. Clubs with good programs, involved technical staff, and a sense of community tend to do well – whether they be big or small. Would you leave a club, or anything for that matter, that you were satisfied with? The answer is likely “no”. Folks take their kids somewhere else because they want to move away from a negative situation, or move towards a better one. There has always been player movement. The 4-2 rule was created to allow an even playing field (pardon the pun), no matter the size of the club. This meant that no club could make wholesale changes in any given year. If you are dissatisfied with the job your techincal staff is doing, go to the AGM and ask questions. Be proactive – perhaps volunteer yourself.

  10. By Kangaroo Court

    So now every city must register a team in u13AA irregardless of calibre which cuts off any transfers. The penalty for not playing AA is $1,000. So another year of wild blowouts and disillusioned players. Why is all this being done…so lac st.louis can qualify 3 teams and not 2 teams in AAA for u14.

    And you think this is all in the best interests of the kids?

  11. So it would appear to me that as I bring my U6 out of the OSU system in Ottawa and into the West Island soccer scene I have a interesting choice at hand. Apparently I have but a few precious years to establish if I want to choose development over opportunity.

    Any suggestions?

  12. My dear sirs…the new rules will highlight the failure of technical staffs and coaches in developing kids in their own backyard. If you look at some clubs heading into u13 or u12…how many of those kids are actually residents of their towns and how many are from other areas.

  13. I had no idea John was making $70,000……..on top of that he works for Quebec soccer in the CNHP program(more $$$). Must never sleep, or else has built one nice little enterprise off of the soccer parents backs……….

  14. By castle logo

    The Lac St-Louis AA league is already diluted enough, with teams like Pointe-Claire, Pincourt and Lachine, moving up to AA, last season. Now add Hudson, Valleyfield and even Dorval (yikes!!) to the mix, which will all be forced to play up, too. Mark my words, scores of 15-0 and 20-0 will become the norm, and not the exception. No wonder LSL AA teams perform so poorly in out-of-region tournaments. The competitive level in the LSL AA league is weak, and about to get even weaker. And, for what reason? To promote more LSL teams into AAA status (just like someone commented before). These teams will only drop back down to AA, in a matter of 1-2 years, where they actually belong in the first place. Now seriously, how’s that helping anyone’s development?

    I had no idea John was making $70,000 as a TD, either. Along with his CNHP duties, he’s really raking it in! By the way, John does sleep…he sleeps a lot…I’ve seen him.

    • Every club has the opportunity to move up to AA or AAA – but they have to earn it. Dorval, along with other clubs in the region have been working very hard to field the best teams they can. Big clubs like Pierrefonds and Lakeshore go outside the club because THEY have not been developing their own players. Just a quick look at the gamesheets on PTS will tell the story. Smaller clubs have no choice, if they want to be competitive.

  15. If these new regulations are not overturned they will be the death of the small clubs who can’t possibly form all of the teams that are required and, because of this, will be exposed to be poached while not being able to add any players in return. Clubs like DDO and Pte Claire are dreaming if they think this will be good for them. Instead they should get their act together and start programs that will develop their players locally and so that they will not want to go elsewhere. And oh yeah, the fines LSL wants to impose are a real joke!

  16. Simple enough, get all the list of players in their clubs and check and see if the 4-2 rule is applied. I can tell you right now for a fact, lakeshore has more than three kids for the same area (dorval kids), and dorval just took pointe Claire kids because of hockey due to the coach is on the dorval side.. So it simple, stop the comments and live with, or stand and fight to have all clubs provide a list of there players and their zone they live in…. It should be like hockey,, play for your zone unless you start with that club at the age of five and moved,, you are entitled to stay or play for your new zone.

  17. Just an FYI for all involved. This rule was taken off the books on Nov 15th and a moratorium has been put in place for a year because what they enacted was illegal. You cannot restrict player movement when it is a right given to all of us from the FSQ – and use fines to enforce it.

    2013 is status-quo for player movement.

    ps Lorenzo, if you think Lakeshore only took players for AAA you are severely misinformed.

    • There was a U12 players a couple of years ago who was, for all intents and purposes, “paid” to move to Lakeshore. They even promised her a spot on the Quebec Team, which by the way, did not materialize. They paid all the expenses for her; registration, tournaments, equipment – you name it.

      Lac St. Louis tried to pull a fast one – when the FSQ intervened. 2013 is business as usual, but, 2014 could see some big changes. Stay tuned.

  18. Jean,
    Really? what age group? there are many different scenarios. example, i left my home club when my child was U10. the ultimate reason was for better development and playing in the AAA program. My home club did not care to put a team into the AAA program. Yes, there are many similar cases. I know for a fact, if you try to move to Lakeshore, it depends on the AAA team. they will use the 4-2 rule for their AAA team. if not utilized, then and only then they will consider for their AA team.

    • Lorenzo – clubs don’t “put” teams in AAA – those teams have to earn it. In the past, it was winning their respective AA league, and playing in the Provincial Cup and finishing either 1st or 2nd. Now, the FSQ has dreamed up the Promotion Cup in which ANY AA team to register. Top 2 teams are automatically promoted to AAA, and the 3rd and 4th place teams play a match de barrage versus the AAA teams who finished 3rd and 4th from the bottom. Also, Lakeshore keeps the 4-2 for the AAA teams only, just in case.

  19. Good day ! . My son is 10 and I am trying and looking to change his club for a better one reaching eventually AAA level . I was told he is a good player and I want to make sure that I can give him the chance to be chosen if he is indeed good !. I am not sure what whould be the next right step as noone has told me exactely where I have to register him for the following try outs season. I know it is important not to miss this season . it Would be great to advise which clubs are well defined and identified as the best in West Island. Looking forward to hearing from you . Thank you in advance!

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