Movement of football managers between clubs

Football managers

When most individuals think about movement between football clubs the thing that immediately springs to mind is the movement of the players through transfer fees. However, in many cases the movement of a manager between two football clubs will become just as high profile.

Currently there are a group of extremely high profile managers which are in high demand across European football. Accordingly football clubs playing in England will do all that they can to ensure one of these managers is in charge of their team.

Football managers and free movement of workers

Football managers in the same way as football players are treated as workers for the purpose of European Union law. This means that football managers who are a citizen of any European Union Member State will be able to move freely to come and work for an English football club, or any other club in any European Union Member State for that matter.

What is the position for football managers from outside the European Union?

For football managers from outside the European Union the position will remain the same as any other worker wishing to come to the United Kingdom having already been provided with the offer of work.

It is for this reason that if a club wishes to employ an individual from outside the European Union as their manager they will be required to obtain a work permit for that individual.

What will be the requirements for the work permit?

There are many specific requirements when a footballer from outside the European Union must adhere to if he wishes to obtain a work permit but for a football manager it is more structured along the usual requirements for a work permit.

Therefore a club wishing to gain a work permit from the Home Office for their manager will need to show that the manager has particular skills and experience which could not be gained from another and that he will make a significant contribution to the game in the United Kingdom.

This has been seen recently with West Ham obtaining a work permit for their new Israeli manager in charge for the 2010/11 season.

Under what situations will a club be able to gain the services of a new manager?

When a football club has lost their previous manager, for any reason, it is extremely important that they gain the services of another manager quickly. Accordingly they will have a wish list of potential managers whose current situation will fall into one of the following three categories:

  • The manager does not have a contract with another football club
  • The manager is under contract with another football club
  • The manager has just recently been dismissed from his contract at another football club

Are there restrictions placed upon a club gaining their services in these situations?

The manager does not have a contract with another football club

In this situation there is no restriction whatsoever on a club appointing a manager. If the manager does not have a contract with another football club he is free to sign a contract with whichever club he wishes.

The manager is under contract with another football club

It is this situation which can cause the most conflict as is often a scenario which comes into play when a club wishes to appoint a highly sought after manager. The small group of real high profile managers will in most instances be employed with a club, so if another club wishes to gain their services they will have to pay the price.

Do clubs have to pay a transfer fee for a manager for a manager who moves clubs in this manner?

If a football player under contract were to move in this manner the clubs would pay a transfer fee – the terms of which will be agreed upon by the two clubs. For a manager to move there is no specific transfer fee but the clubs do have to come to an arrangement.

What kind of arrangement?

The club who gains the services of the manager will be required to pay a fee to compensate the club who is losing the manager. The amount of compensation is a matter which will be agreed between the two clubs.

What is this compensation for?

When the manager leaves the club to which he was originally contracted he will be deemed to have terminated his contract early (a breach of the contract) meaning that the club will need to be compensated for this loss.

What happens if the clubs cannot agree an adequate amount of compensation?

If the manager moves between clubs and the clubs cannot agree on an adequate amount of compensation then due to the early termination of the contract the original club will be able to bring the following claims:

  • Breach of contract – by the manager
  • Inducement to breach the contract – by the club obtaining his services

It is likely that both these claims are to be heard by a disciplinary tribunal which will decide on the adequate amount of compensation to be paid.

The manager has just recently been dismissed from another football club

In some cases when a manager has recently been dismissed from a football club he will become a free agent and can move as in the first scenario. However, in some instances a manager will be put under gardening leave by the club losing his services meaning he will not be able to move to another club for a specified time period.

Do the FIFA Transfer Windows apply to managers as well as players?

At one time FIFA put forward arguments that the transfer window would also apply to managers meaning they could only switch clubs within the two designated periods in the season. However, this proposal has never been adopted meaning that football managers are free to move between clubs at any point throughout the football season.