How has the face of English and European football changed since the landmark case of Bosman? In response to the reform of the football transfer market and the regulations regarding the number of foreign players represented in a team, are FIFA and UEFA’s new proposed rules legitimate under EU law?
Brief Description of the Research
My proposed dissertation question will focus on how English and European football has evolved over time, paying particular attention to changes before and after the groundbreaking ruling of Bosman. It will focus on how this one case changed European law and how it scoped the face of football as we know it today. In light of Bosman’s court appearance The European Union altered regulations concerning the ‘free movement’ and transfer of a player from club to club, as well as amending limitations concerning foreign players. Attention will therefore be closely paid to the law surrounding the transfer of players in European football and the ever changing regulations concerning the number of ‘foreign’ players in a team. The research will also lead me to consider the positives and negatives the Bosman ruling has had on the beautiful game. My answering of the proposed question may even lead me to embark on the discriminatory issues and changes being made by FIFA and UEFA today in 2008.
My reasons for choosing to focus my dissertation on this area are mainly to do with the huge personal interest I have in sport and in particular football. I am a dedicated Manchester United supporter and am forever following football news. I also see it a challenge to focus my research and work on an area which I have not yet studied as part of my degree syllabus (although I am aware that I will be studying Sports Law as a module next semester).
Aims and Objectives:
My main aim when writing my dissertation is obviously to read around and understand the area in sports law associated with the European changes to the law of football, paying attention to the transfer system and limits on foreign players in teams. I will also focus on how this area of the law has changed so much over the years, whether it has changed for the better or not and what affect the famous Bosman ruling has had on the face of football. My dissertation will however be broken down into chapters which will look specifically at answering certain research questions. This should then hopefully amount to me answering the proposed dissertation title (above).
First of all my initial research question / goal will be to pay particular notice to the Bosman ruling. I aim to research the case in depth (as well as other cases and legal changes associated with the matter) in order to assess the judgements made in the landmark case. The two main aspects of the Bosman ruling which will possess the majority of my research will be the remodelling of the transfer system in football and the nationality restrictions of foreign players, and whether or not such rules are compatible with discriminatory European rules. Prior to the Bosman judgement the transfer system regulated on a ‘retain and transfer’ basis. This gave somewhat extensive powers to clubs over the player as: “it provided the club with a ‘virtual monopoly over the player’s services, effectively tying him to his club until, and if, the club gave the player permission to move elsewhere.” Cases such as Eastham and Bosman argued against these principles resulting in European Courts changing the rules as they were seen to be a restriction which was prohibited by Article 39 of the EU Treaty. The free movement of players as well as Articles 39, 81 and 82 of the EU Treaty will all be considered when debating the European changes made since Bosman. The main focus for the opening couple of chapters of my dissertation then will be to assess the Bosman judgement in detail, focus on what areas of the law it dealt with and come to some sort of understanding as to what impact it had on football and the sporting European law surrounding football.
From this I will then go on to my second research goal of looking at how leading football bodies, such as FIFA and UEFA, have responded to the changes made since Bosman. With regard to the free movement of players the transfer system imposed by FIFA will be considered to determine whether or not it complies with player’s mobility and freedom rights and whether it is compatible with European regulations such as Article 39 of the Treaty. More significantly are the changes made regarding nationality and the restrictions on the number of ‘foreign players’ represented in a team and the fact that the Bosman ruling loosened regulations on the number of foreign players a team could field. I will research the effect this has had on the English game, which can be clearly seen in today’s game due to English team’s dominance in the Champions League and the debate surrounding English clubs fielding more foreign players than home grown. European Discriminatory issues will also be an issue for discussion as quota system proposals have said to be discriminatory against a player’s nationality.
Finally linking to the vast number of foreign players in teams, I will research the pros and cons of this and look at new rulings proposed by FIFA and UEFA which will again mean a limit on the number of foreign players a team can play. The ‘6 plus 5 rule’ currently being debated by FIFA would again change the rules concerning foreign players. FIFA feels the need to implement this new approach in order to protect national teams and their identity. The ‘6 plus 5′ rule is intended to be a way of achieving this and if implemented, would require clubs to field a minimum of six players capable and eligible of playing for the national side in that association in which they play their club football. UEFA are also implementing a similar venture concerning home grown players in teams. They propose that in UEFA club competitions out of the 25 player squad a team has available a minority of those players should be a ‘club trained player’ and are seen as a result of being ‘home grown’ by the club. The player in question is defined as: “a player, irrespective of his nationality or age, who has been registered with his current club for a period, continuous or non continuous, of three entire seasons or of 36 months whilst between the ages of 15 and 21.” UEFA insist this is a far cry from their previous ‘3 plus 2′ rule as it was deemed discriminatory towards a player’s nationality. Both these proposals by FIFA and UEFA will be investigated in detail in the latter parts of my dissertation. Whether or not there is a need for such rules will be discussed, the advantages and disadvantages of the two proposals and most importantly the legality of them will be my focus for the final research goal. The legality of the proposed rules in terms of national discriminatory issues and whether they would meet requirements under certain Articles of the EU’s Treaty (Articles 39, 81 and 82 for example) will all need to be discussed and will be the focus for my third dissertation research aim.
When researching the area of sports law, in particular football and the Bosman judgement there are certain themes which emerge. There is current debate over the new changes proposed by FIFA and UEFA with new regulations on the number of foreign players represented in a team. FIFA’s answer to the controversy surrounding the overwhelming influence overseas players are having on English leagues is the introduction of the ‘6 pus 5 rule’ which, if implemented, would require teams to field at least six players qualified to represent the national team of that association in which they play. UEFA have also adopted a similar new technique with the ‘home grown players’ proposal which requires teams to feature a minority of players who have been signed to the club from a young age and have been an aspect of the youth training system in the club.
With both these proposals comes debate and argument over the affect they would have on the English game. There is debate over whether or not such new proposals are required, what affect they would have on English football and would it improve it for the better or worse? There are obviously two sides to the argument. On the one hand the overwhelming number of foreign players in English teams can be said to have a positive affect on English football. This can be seen by English teams being of a higher class today than ever before with English clubs dominance in the Champions League clearly proving this. However on the other hand there has been concern that the rise in international player transfers has severed the link between a club and its locality, meaning clubs are loosing their identity and fans no longer have any home grown players to support and relate to. As these two new proposals by the main football bodies are of such concern that is why I am choosing to discuss them in my dissertation. I aim to look at both FIFA’s ‘6 plus 5 rule’ and UEFA’s ‘home grown player’ rule in detail and try to establish what affect they would have on the game if implemented. I will also consider the legality of both proposed changes, considering whether or not they would stand up to European laws if challenged.
When researching for this dissertation and in order to answer my research questions I will use a range of different sources of information. Obviously as my main focus is on the European Court’s ruling in the Bosman case I intent to use cases, statutes and case law in my research. I will however also be using various textbooks in order to familiarise myself with certain areas of the law as well as reading journals, interviews and news articles from the internet in order to keep up to date on any changes. For example the current debate surrounding FIFA’s vote for a ‘6 plus 5′ rule which is aimed at limiting the number of foreign players in football teams.
As European law will play a key role in my research I will not limit myself to just researching UK law, as areas such as European Union law, European Commissions law, changes to articles of EEC Treaties and alterations made by legal football bodies such as FIFA and UEFA will all need to be discussed. Articles within the EU Treaties such as articles 39, 81 and 82 will be considered in more detail when considering national discriminatory and other issues and the commission’s white paper on sport will also be an area I intend to research closely.
My dissertation should take the structure of consisting of 5 chapters: an introductory chapter, 3 chapters in between each answering the 3 research aims explained in the aims and objectives, and finally a chapter consisting of a conclusion.
Each chapter will roughly be around 2000words long. The introductory chapter will set out what I am researching in my dissertation, the reasons for doing so and what I intend to achieve. The research aims/questions will be set out here and the purpose of the introduction chapter should allow me to explain a little the background of the law surrounding the area of football and how it has evolved to where it is today. This will then lead me on to my first chapter which will consider the Bosman judgement in great detail. I intend to look at the law before and after Bosman and try to establish what kind of impact it has had on the world of football. The next chapter will hopefully answer the second research aim and will consider what responses FIFA and UEFA have come up with and what changes they have made to the legal side of football. Chapter 3 will link to this as it will discuss the legality of FIFA and UEFA’s responses and will ask if challenged would the new proposed rules (6+5 and home grown players) be legally accepted under articles 39, 81 and 82 of the EU Treaties. The final chapter will be a conclusion summing up the dissertation with what findings I have discovered through my research and hopefully an answer to my initial dissertation title.
Programme of Work
My dissertation will consist of 5 chapters, each being approximately 2000 words. From the date of handing in this proposal (December 1st 2008) to the final handing in date (end of April 2009) there are 5 months for me to work on the dissertation. Therefore I intend to follow the structure of completing a chapter each month (2000 words), meaning that after the Christmas break I aim to have completed my introductory chapter and be well on my way with answering the first of my research questions by the start of semester 2.
Below is a brief list of the textbooks, cases and other materials I have read so far in order to research this area. By doing this it has enabled me to understand the issues a lot clearer and has given me the starting point for planning and writing my dissertation. In my actual dissertation and answering of the proposed question the bibliography list will be a lot greater.
- R. Parrish & S. Miettinen, The Sporting Exception in European Union law, TMC Asser press
- Sports Law, 3rd edition, S. Gardiner M. James J. O’Leary & R. Welch, Cavendish publishing
- International Sports Law, 2nd edition, Nafziger
- Sport: Law and practice, A. Lewis & J. Taylor
- Law and Sport in Contemporary society, S. Greenfield & G. Osborn
- Sports Law and Policy in the EU, Richard Parrish
- C-415/93, Union Royale Belge des Societes de Football ASBL v. Bosman, 1995 E.C.R. I-4921,  1 CMLR 645
- Walrave and Koch v Association Union Cycliiste Internationale Case 36/74  ECR 1405.
- Dona v Montero Case 13/76  ECR 1333
- Eastham v Newcastle United Football Club  3 All E.R. 139; (1963) 107 S.J. 574
- The Times Online website (www.timesonline.co.uk)
- BBC website (www.bbc.co.uk/sport)
- White Paper on Sport