Football manager contracts of employment – key clauses for clubs to consider – Part 1

Published 22 December 2014 By: Nick Tsatsas

Harry Redknapp

As the role of a football manager has become increasingly less stable – particularly at the highest level of the game - the terms of a football manager’s contract have assumed greater significance, given the issues that are likely to arise when club and manager part company. The purpose of this article is to analyse some of the most important of these contractual terms.

 

Introduction

As the financial rewards in top level English football have grown over the last 20 years, so the pressure to access, or continue to benefit from, those rewards has increased. Football club (Club) owners have become impatient for success (however that may be defined by each Club), and when the Club falls short of the performance expected of it (or perhaps even just looks like it might), it is usually the Club manager (Manager) who pays for that “failure” with his job. As a result, Managers in top level English football have never had less job security. Not one of the Championship’s Clubs has a Manager with more than two seasons of service, and less than half of the Clubs in the Premier League have Managers who have been in their job for two seasons or more1. Indeed, the average tenure of dismissed managers in the Premier League is now said to be just under a year and a quarter, less than half of what it was two years ago2.

Given that the termination of a Manager’s employment is something that every Club is going to have to address at some point (some more regularly than others!), Clubs will want to be well-prepared to deal with the sorts of issue that tend to arise in such circumstances. There is no better way of doing so than by ensuring that Managers are subject to a well-drafted contract of employment (Contract). Indeed, most legal disputes between Clubs and Managers centre on claims arising out of the Contract, not least because such contractual claims tend to be much more valuable than any statutory employment claims that might also be in play.

Unlike footballers’ Contracts in England, there is no prescribed form for a football Manager’s Contract. The Football League Regulations make no mention of any specific clauses that need to be included in a Manager’s Contract, whilst the Premier League’s Rules3 state only that:

The terms of a Manager’s employment must be evidenced in a written contract, a copy of which must be submitted to the Secretary within seven days of its completion.” (Rule P.7)

Contracts of employment between a Club and Manager shall:

  • include the standard clauses set out in Appendix 7;
  • clearly set out the circumstances in which the contract of employment may be determined by either party.” (Rule P.8)

Those standard clauses, in Appendix 74 of the Premier League Handbook, read as follows:

  1. The Manager shall observe and comply with the rules and regulations for the time being in force of any organisation or body the rules and regulations of which the Club is bound to observe including those of The Football Association and League and in particular he shall at all times act in accordance with the League’s Code of Conduct for Managers.
  2. The Manager shall comply with all reasonable instructions and requests which arise in the first case out of any commercial contract entered into by the League for the benefit of its members or in the second case out of any such contract entered into by the Club for its own benefit and the Manager shall not himself enter into any such contract which conflicts or competes or is reasonably likely to conflict or compete with those entered into by the League or by the Club as aforesaid. 
    a) given to Club Managers by the League or 
    b) given to the Manager by the Club
    which arise in the first case out of any commercial contract entered into by the League for the benefit of its members or in the second case out of any such contract entered into by the Club for its own benefit and the Manager shall not himself enter into any such contract which conflicts or competes or is reasonably likely to conflict or compete with those entered into by the League or by the Club as aforesaid.
  3. Any dispute or difference arising between the parties hereto as to the construction of this Agreement or the rights duties or obligations of either party hereunder or any matter arising out of or concerning the same or the Manager’s employment hereunder shall be referred to the Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal in accordance with the Rules of the League for the time being in force. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this clause 3 and without prejudice thereto, the parties shall use and until the conclusion of the arbitration shall continue to use their best endeavours to attempt to reach a settlement of their dispute by mediation.

 

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Author

Nick Tsatsas

Nick Tsatsas

Nick is a consultant solicitor and employment law specialist at Keystone Law. He acts for domestic and international employers, senior executives and high-profile personalities, and has particular expertise advising in relation to employment issues in the sports and media sectors. He has consistently been recognised as a leading lawyer in the employment field by Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession and The Legal 500.

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