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Guidelines for UK football intermediaries working with minors

October 19, 2021
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Intermediaries form an integral part of football and its practice and, therefore, are thoroughly regulated, in particular, where it comes to working with minor players, that is, players under the age of 18.

Lack of knowledge of the relevant regulations may result not only in a ban, but also in a substantial fine for the intermediary.

Therefore, below we provide a list of recommendations for intermediaries working with minors.

1.    Registration with English Football Association (the“FA”)

At the time of writing intermediaries (whether individuals or companies) are required to register with the FA’s web-based system, the “Whole Game System”. Please note, there are separate registration statuses for intermediaries working with adult and minor football players.

2.    Pre-requisites for entering into a contract with minors

An intermediary aiming to enter into representation contracts with minors must first:

·       Successfully pass the Enhanced Disclosure Barring Service (the “DBS”) and obtain authorisation from the FA (renewed every 3 years); and

·       Declare compliance with the criteria of the Test of Good Character for Intermediaries upon registration.

Intermediaries must also notify the FA within 10 days of any changes to circumstances(declarations are to be made every 12 months, at the time of there-registration and each time of carrying out an individual intermediary activity).

 

3.    Entering into a contract

The rule provides that a minor under the age of 16 cannot enter a contract in their own capacity, so a contract must be entered with their parents or guardians. When entering such a contract, the following rules must be complied with:

·       The contract cannot extend beyond a maximum period of 2 years; and

·       Minors cannot be represented by a company (only an individual acting in his/her own right).

Intermediaries cannot approach or enter into a representation contract with a minor until 1January in the year of the player’s 16th Birthday. Between 1 January in the year of the player’s 16th birthday and the player’s 18thbirthday, an intermediary may approach or enter into a representation contract with a player only with the written consent of the player’s parent or guardian.

 

4.    Remuneration

Intermediaries are prohibited from receiving any remuneration in relation to the negotiation of employment contracts or transfer agreements concerning minors.

However, please note the below as it may be relevant when the player reaches the age of 18:

·       parents or guardians cannot receive financial benefits unless registered as intermediaries;

·       intermediaries can received remuneration from players or clubs in the form of a lump sum or instalments. However, these payments cannot be deducted from the player's performance-related bonuses; and

·       payments to intermediaries are to be made through The FA’s clearing house protocol.

 

5.    Enforceability of representation contracts with minors

Generally, when minors reach the age of 18, they may chose to work with a different intermediary and it is hard to enforce a contract signed by parents or guardians. However, there are circumstances when such contracts can be enforceable. In particular:

·       where such contract benefits the minor with educational value; or

·       where the minor ratifies the contract after having reached the age of 18.

 

6.     Additional points to note:

 

·       Intermediaries can only represent one party in a transaction (unless written consent from both parties is obtained).

·       Intermediaries owe their clients not only contractual duties but also fiduciary ones (e.g. a duty to avoid and/or declare a conflict of interest, a duty not to profit from their position).

·       Intermediaries must not have any interest in a club and a club, club official, manager or any individual or entity with an interest in a Club may not have any interest in the business or affairs of an intermediary.

·       Intermediaries are prohibited from offering or providing a valued benefit to clubs in order to elicit a benefit or preferential treatment.

 

It is essential to consult with legal professionals prior to approaching minors and entering into representation contracts with them.

For legal advice on matters of sports law, please contact Madina Tatraeva at madina.tatraeva@iaw.co.uk.

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