By Dan Chapman
Following our earlier articles on the often controversial issue of compensation and YD7 and YD10 forms when a young player wishes to change footballs clubs/Academies, this article considers whether or not a player/parent has the legal right to challenge a club’s decision?
We are increasingly finding that a number of young players, parents or intermediaries believe that they have been treated unfairly by their football club when the question of compensation arises. Some have undoubtedly been treated unfairly whereas others have not – they simply wish to change clubs and do not wish to have a ‘price tag’ on their heads at such a young age – but in those cases where there is a belief that one has been treated unlawfully, is there a legal route that can be followed?
It may be that an alleged legal case is based on a breach of contract by the club, or misrepresentation or the suggestion that there has been a misapplication of the relevant Youth Development Rules. Be it as it may, most young players/parents or their advisors seek – quite rightly – to resolve their dispute informally with the club, often reaching out to the Football Association for guidance too. Where that is not successful, though, it is not widely publicized as to what a potential complainant may do next? Given the often onerous obligations imposed upon a young player under the Youth Development Rules it is perhaps surprising that the legal route to redress is not made extremely clear. In most other walks of life and business, often to the point of political correctness having gone mad, we are forcefully reminded at every juncture as to our right to complain, our right to go to Court, our rights of mediation. If one wishes to complain about their solicitor it is most straightforward – given that every solicitor in their first letter to their new client has to tell that client how they go about complaining, and who they need to report the solicitor to if they are still not happy! Not so with this subject……….
The answer (presuming the club in question is in the Football League) is that any ‘participant’ (which includes an academy player) is entitled to request that the Football League (note, not the FA who might naturally be the port of call for advice) convenes a Football Disciplinary Commission. Following a process of disclosure and witness statements being exchanged, and absent a resolution being agreed between the parties, the FDC will be made up of a panel comprising a chairman and two members, one nominated by either side. The FDC have wide-ranging powers although are unlikely to rule on how much compensation is due (that being the domain of the Youth Development Rules), but will order that compensation is indeed due (subject to those Rules if agreement not reached between clubs) or that it is not due. An order that compensation is not due would, in effect, overrule a YD10 release and put the player in the position of having been released on a YD7 basis.
Following a decision of the FDC, rule 82 of the Football League Regulations provides the unsuccessful complainant with the right of appeal, to be lodged with the Football League within 14 days – an appeals tribunal would then be convened.
If the club in question is in the Premier League a similar mechanism exists, via the Premier League Appeals Committee.
Clearly, a young player, parent or their adviser should not be quick to seek legal redress when they are involved in a compensation dispute. However, we at Full Contact are well placed to advise potential complainants of their options, to include seeking negotiated settlements, alternative dispute resolution and – where necessary – the instigation of FDC/Appeals proceedings. Please contact us for advice on your situation, and we make no charges for providing you with an initial assessment.
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The spearhead and Senior Partner of Full Contact, Dan is an experienced solicitor and advocate, with a specialist background in employment law and sports.
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