English player's agents warn FA of legal action

A leading British football agent Mel Stein claims the English Football Association has acknowleged they have “cocked up” on the new rules governing agents. The FA is facing a challenge in the courts just days before they plan to introduce a tough new set of rules at the end of May in time for the next transfer window. One of the country’s leading barristers, David Pannick, will see the final draft on behalf of the FA on Friday, but the Association of Football Agents is calling for the FA to put back the new regulations in order to consult with them, or they will take out an injunction.

Stein, a specialist sports lawyer and leading light of the AFA, said: “The FA have hired the country’s top barrister, but they have now acknowledged they are wrong. They are proposing a whole tranche of amendments, but in my view they do not go far enough. The FA have been too dictatorial, they need to engage in a proper process of consultancy with us rather than having a dialogue through our lawyers. They cocked up from the word go. We asked to see a copy of the new rules but they never sent them to us before they announced them. We have reached the cut-off point. We do not want to litigate, but either the FA want to talk directly to us or we shall have to decide on an injunction. Either way I cannot see the rules being introduced, as they plan to do, on May 1. The FA rushed in new rules for January 2006, and here we are arguing about new rules for May. They shouldn’t be rushed through on May 1. What’s wrong with January 1, 2008?,” he told Harry Harris of The Express.

The FA insists it has consulted with agents and other bodies prior to releasing the new rules and argues the AFA is not representative of all agents, and even those within their organisation have differing views. The FA also believes that by making amendments it will be in a far strong legal position to resist an injunction, insisting it has not scrapped a single point of principle. English agents, however, have met their counterparts in Europe to co-ordinate action. Theys claim the new rules are a restraint of trade and can be challenged all the way to the European Courts.