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The Laws On Disclosing Medical Information During Football Transfers: A Review Of Barnsley v Hull City

Man stretching through the pain
Monday, 17 May 2021 By Oonagh Webster

On 31 January 2018, the last day of the January 2018 transfer window, footballer Angus MacDonald (Player) transferred from Barnsley Football Club (Barnsley) to Hull City Tigers (Hull City)[1] for a transfer fee of £600,000, payable in three instalments. Seven months later, the Player was diagnosed with bowel cancer[2], undergoing a period of intensive treatment before being given the ‘all clear’ in December 2019.[3]

Hull City argued that Barnsley had failed to disclose “crucial medical information” [4] prior to concluding the transfer of the Player and withheld from Barnsley the final £200,000 instalment of the agreed £600,000 transfer fee. Barnsley strenuously disputed the allegations and claimed the £200,000 plus interest was payable. Following a four-day arbitration in December 2020, Barnsley were ordered to pay Hull City the sum of £958,716.94, comprising damages and costs.

The case is notable due to the unusual wording of the transfer agreement, proposed by Hull City and approved by Barnsley, and serves as a cautionary reminder to all clubs to carefully consider the implications of any unfamiliar clauses proposed during the course of a player transfer, particularly as the conduct of player transfers are likely to come under increasing scrutiny in the post-Covid era. 

This article discusses:

  • Background & Facts
  • Decision in the case
  • Its Impact.

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Written by

Oonagh Webster

Oonagh Webster

Solicitor, Keoghs

Oonagh is experienced in handling the defence of player on player claims for Premier League clubs/players/their public liability insurers, advising Premier League Clubs on a variety of contractual issues, and advises Premier League club doctors both as to their obligations to parent club and their players/players’ families.

+44 0203 436 2376

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