Clubs ready to take legal action if the 2019-20 season is not completed

yorkshirepost: This week, Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear called for the English domestic campaign to be completed, citing the integrity of the competition as his chief concern. That appears to be the consensus amongst the Championship clubs.

Mishcon de Reya lawyer Simon Leaf says his company have been contacted about potential legal challenges which would make declaring the Premier League and Football League campaigns null and void a “non-starter”.

The two leagues have suspended matches until at least the first weekend of April, although with little expectation the pandemic will have peaked by then in this country, the Premier League’s emergency meeting today might push that date back indefinitely.

Tuesday’s decision by UEFA to postpone the European Championships until 2021 was made partly to provide more space for domestic leagues to be able to complete their programmes if the medical advice allows.

“That has certainly made life easier for the leagues to complete their seasons by giving them a bit of room before the summer,” said Leaf. “Given we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, it still might not be enough, though.

“I know there has been talk about ending the season early but that is a complete non-starter and we are speaking to several clients about taking actions against the leagues if they were to do that.

“The Premier League’s rules and regulations extend to over 600 pages but there is nothing specific in there that indicates how this situation will be resolved. Any decision will attract great scrutiny and potentially lead to legal challenge if it is felt that the league has acted irrationally.”

With nine matches to play, Leeds are top of the Championship and favourites to win promotion to the Premier League, which would be worth a nine-figure fee in broadcast revenue and prize money alone.

Declaring the season null and void would deny them that opportunity.

Sheffield United would miss the chance to qualify for a first season of European football – they are only outside the Europa League places on goal difference with a game in hand on the sides immediately above them – and Barnsley the opportunity to escape the Championship relegation zone.

Rotherham United are in one of League One’s two automatic promotion places, whereas League One Doncaster Rovers and League Two Bradford City are outside the play-off positions.

“Not that extending the season would be without problems,” warned Leaf. “It would bring into question some of the agreements in place.

“I would have thought the broadcast agreements would be written in the leagues’ favour.

“I think whatever happens, the broadcasters will be on the hunt.

“Conceivably, you’re going to a place where fitting 38 games in before the European Championships is difficult but if it is agreed up front (how, when or if the various competitions will be played), it wouldn’t surprise me if we had a shorter campaign next season.

“Playing agreements, unlike commercial agreements, tend to be fixed in stone in terms of the timescale.

“If the season extends beyond June 30, there would be a number of players out of contract and a number of squads struggling to fulfil their fixtures without them.

“There will be a number of agents who would see it as an opportunity to hold clubs to ransom and demand higher fees for preventing them moving to another club who could potentially pay them more money.

“FIFA will, no doubt, have to consider the summer and winter transfer windows to make sure clubs are able to provide a full-strength squad.

“The other situation is that some clubs’ kits deal come up at the end of the season.

“Depending on how those contracts are worded, some could potentially find they have two suppliers holding contracts saying they can supply the kits at the start of next season. One might have a deal which runs until the end of this season, and another might say their deal starts on 
July 1, for example.

“You would hope lawyers would have looked at that in advance, but nobody could have seen these things coming.”

Sheffield Wednesday are one of the clubs who have a host of senior players out of contract at the end of June. Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri, Morgan Fox, Kieran Lee, Joey Pelupessy, Atdhe Nuhiu, Sam Winnall and Sam Hutchinson are all in that position.

This is the final season of Leeds’s kit deal with Kappa. Recent rumours that an agreement had been reached with Adidas to replace them for 2020-21 were denied at the time by the Elland Road club.

Source: Published by yorkshirepost

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