The implications on English Football Clubs.
The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) decision in Union Royale Belge des Societes de Football Association (ASBL) v Bosman changed the face of football when it prevented clubs from demanding transfer fees for out-of-contract players who moved from one club to another, and additionally, prevented the imposition of restrictions on the number of foreigners who can play for a particular club. Therefore, the primary purpose of this paper is to examine the changes made by English professional football clubs since the ECJ delivered the historic Bosman ruling and also to scrutinise what the overall effects that Bosman has had on English football.
In chapter one, it will be significant to include a basic insight and background of leading sports cases that have taken place in the ECJ before Bosman.Therefore, through examining pre-Bosman cases it will assist to identify the real issues that the ECJ had to deal with and the significance of their decisions. To help support these questions, it will be essential to look at the case of Walrave and Koch v UCI, where a problematical issue concerning freedom of movement for workers presented itself. Additionally, the interpretation of Arts. 7, 48 and 59 and Reg.1612/68 of the Council on the freedom of movement for workers within the Community needs to be briefly discussed.
Furthermore, it will also be imperative to look at the case of Dona v Mantero, where several questions were asked about the interpretation of the Treaty of Rome 1957 Art.7 (non-discrimination on grounds of nationality), Art.48 (freedom of movement for workers) and Art.59 (freedom to provide services within the Community, in respect of a football player). It will also be necessary to look at why the Union des Associations Europeenes de Football (UEFA) made small changes and modified some of their practices concerning quotas and transfers before Bosman arose.
It is also clear that a concise summary of Bosman needs to be thoroughly discussed to ascertain what the issues the ECJ had to deal with.
In chapter two, a number of points need to be observed concerning the transfer system. Therefore, it needs to be recognized what effects Bosman has had on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and UEFA, especially regarding transfers and quota systems (i.e. the 3+2 rule). Therefore, FIFA and UEFA transfer rules and regulations need to be thoroughly examined.
Consequently, it will be central to look at transfer windows and consider whether the new FIFA regulations are restricting the ability of clubs to hire players, and therefore, restricting their freedom of movement. The case of Lehoten and Castors Braine will provide some guidance on these issues. Additionally, it needs to be established if the decision in Bosman has had a positive impact on English football clubs or if it has put more of a burden on football clubs in respect to higher transfer fees, longer contracts and higher signing on fees. Finally, this chapter will also focus on whether Bosman has widened the financial differences between the clubs in the English Premier League to those of the Football League, in particular focusing on the increase in power the higher profile clubs appear to have gained.
Finally, in chapter three, alleged illegal approaches or ‘the tapping up of players’ and the validity of rules regulating the “tapping up” of players will be discussed. This is particularly important, as players are not allowed from talking to another club without the consent of his current club. Therefore, Article 14(c) of the FIFA Players’ Agents Regulations and the English Football Associations Premier League rules need to be explored.
Case law to assist on these matters concern Chelsea Football Club who have been fined for making illegal approaches to players as well as recently having a recent transfer embargo placed upon them by FIFA. Other clubs under scrutiny from FIFA include Manchester United and Barcelona.
Therefore, it needs to be determined whether high profile clubs with more weight behind them are making illegal approaches because of the decision in Bosman. Additionally, it needs to be discussed as what actually constitutes the tapping up of players. For example, if another club goes public with interest in a player but without making formal contact with the player, is that within the rules? To assist with these issues, FIFA Statutes and Regulations need to comprehensively examined.
Finally, the question also needs to be raised as to what is wrong with a football player weighing up his options in terms of whether or not to move to another football club and are the rules regarding the tapping up players another constraint on the freedom of movement under Article 39.
To assist in researching the issues in this paper, there needs to be a vast amount of time spent reading around the subject matters concerned. Therefore, it is imperative to study and read Sports law books written by leading academics to help reach a fundamental understanding and structure of the topics concerned. To obtain this aim, it will be of the essence to attend the Library frequently to acquire the most recent and most up-to-date Sport law books.
Additionally, the subjects need to be researched to such a degree that it is imperative to read many journals by leading academics in the Sports law sector to get a planned perceptive of the debates and questions that need to be raised, argued and answered. To achieve this goal, it will be of the most important to make good use of the University computer library databases, such as Lexis Nexis and Westlaw.
Another key in answering these questions will be to read the most recent of articles published, especially concerning the illegal approach of players, which could be said to be a recent failing that has arisen in the game. Therefore, to keep updated on this subject it is necessary to read a quality newspaper. Additionally, Lexis Nexis, Westlaw and recent Sport Law books are also essential.
Moreover, to get accurate insights into decisions made by the ECJ and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, it is essential to read and understand the case law in this field. Again, the University computer databases will be essential in obtaining this objective.
Furthermore, National and European legislation must be examined along with decision of Commissions and the rules and regulations of FIFA and UEFA. Therefore, to obtain this information it will be necessary to access Journals and approved websites.
Finally, it is of the essence to establish if they are any recent reviews that are occurring in the fields concerned, or alternatively, any current reforms that have recently taken place. Again, it is imperative to keep updated with recent events via newspapers, websites and journals.
This research will hopefully help facilitate as to what influence the Bosman ruling as had on English football. Therefore, this study could be of assistance to any Sports law or European law enthusiast, or additionally, UEFA and FIFA might find the research of some interest. Word count 1100
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McArdle, D., (2000), From Boot Money to Bosman: Football, Society and the Law, London: Cavendish
Parrish, R., & Miettinen, S., (2008), The Sporting Exception in European Union Law,
The Hague: TMC