Footballers Can Leave England After June 30, Sports Lawyer Says

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic which has paralysed footballing action across the world, the world football governing body FIFA recommended that all the contracts of footballers which will expire in June should be extended until the football season is over.

This recommendation was received in mixed feelings by footballers who would want to move to another club at the end of their current contracts. Some clubs were not also happy because it means that they would have to keep paying the players beyond June.

To douse this tension especially as it concerns footballers playing in the United Kingdom, sports lawyer Nick De Marco QC told Sky Sports News, that the players whose contracts would expire in June have the right to walk away after June 30.

He based his submission on the fact that the English employment law gives footballers the right to decide what would happen to their careers when their contracts officially expire.

Footballers can not be forced to stay

Barrister Nick De Marco QC, discussing footballers right
Barrister Nick De Marco QC

De Marco is a very experienced lawyer as far as sports-related matters are concerned. According to Sky Sports, he has represented sports governing bodies, players, clubs and agents since 2002.

He insisted that though the recommendation of FIFA is applaudable but according to the laws in England, the footballers can not be forced to remain in their clubs after June 30, whether the season resumes or not.

He said: “Legally, they cannot be forced to continue to play for the club.

“Nobody can force them to do so; FIFA, the FA, the club or anybody else. If they want to walk away, that’s a matter for them but it will really be a matter of whether, financially, that makes sense for them.

“What you’re most likely to see as a preferred option is probably very short-term extensions of contracts based on existing salary terms. That won’t suit everyone, and it can’t be forced on anyone in England.

“For example, if you’re a player coming towards the end of your contract and, perhaps, the end of your career, maybe you only have one more contract left, you may be very reluctant to sign a contract for only a few weeks or an indeterminate period of time.

“If you’re a lower league club, financially stressed, you won’t be wanting to pay players beyond June 30. So, a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t going to work. It’s going to depend on each case. The key is going to be agreements.”

“If the players are out of contract then, so far as the law is concerned, they’re no longer employees and they’re free to walk away. The real issue is, ‘Do the players walk away or not?’. That will depend on the circumstances of each case.”