FAQs for Intermediaries on the FA Regulations on Intermediaries 2019/20

When did the new regulations come into force?
A: June 2019 – these have come into force ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Are the new regulations part of FIFA’s proposed reforms?
A: No, these are simply amendments to the current rules on intermediaries.

Practical advice: Although there is a lot of speculation around the proposed reforms by FIFA, one being that the reforms will see a return to the licensing system, it is not anticipated that the reforms will come into force until the 2020/21 season.

What are the main changes to the regulations?
A: The changes to the regulations are:

  • The inclusion of a fiduciary duty for you to act in the best interests of the player/club you represent – A7;
  • The obligation to communicate any offers to players ASAP or within 24 hours – A8.1;
  • Approaching minor players includes the use of social media and contacting connected persons (i.e. members of the family) – B8(iii);
  • Annual returns should be provided to all players within 30 days of 30 June of each year – C12;
  • Any agreements settling a dispute with another intermediary or organisation should be disclosed to the FA – D5;
  • You must not have any economic interest in the transfer of a player – E5;
  • Clubs must disclose any agreements they have in place with you – E8(iii); and
  • You cannot enter into a sponsorship agreement with any club from PL to National League System Steps – 1 – 4 – E11.

What is a fiduciary duty and how does this affect my work?
A: A fiduciary duty, put simply, is a legal obligation of one party to act in the best interest of another and in reality, this does not affect your work. Due to the nature of the work which you undertake as an agent/intermediary you are already bound by a fiduciary duty in law.

Practical advice: The amendments to the regulations now means that a breach of your duties may not only lead to potential in civil proceedings but, could now be regarded as misconduct punishable by the FA.

What consists of an offer?
A: FA guidance explains that an offer is “proposed terms of employment” and that this can include text/WhatsApp/email.

Practical advice: You should request that any informal communications are followed up with a letter/email headed setting out the proposal in full.

Can I approach a minor through their parent/guardian following an introduction by mutual connection?                                                                                                          A: Approaches to connected persons (i.e. parent or guardian) via a connected third party are now prohibited.

Practical advice: As the strict interpretation of B8(iii) means that introductions by third parties, including over social media or messaging services such as WhatsApp are banned. It would be wise to keep a written record of all communications/introductions with any persons connected to minors.

Who do I need to provide annual returns to?
A: C12 provides that annual returns should be provided to every player/club that you represent. This means that an annual return listing commissions/income should be provided 30 days before 30 June each year.

Practical advice: The FA itself has advised that further guidance will be provided on this point. The guidance suggests that there will be a standard form to be used.

I have entered into settlement agreements with other agents which have a confidentiality clause in them. How can I disclose these to the FA without being in breach?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A: This will depend on the wording of the clause. Most confidentiality clauses allow for a party to breach confidentiality in instances where they are bound by law, law enforcement, or a regulatory body to disclose the information. In your case, the FA is your regulatory body. If there is no clause to that effect, then it would be wise contact the other intermediary/agent to obtain their consent to disclose the agreement to the FA, bearing in mind that they will be in the same position as you.

Practical advice: You should be taking independent legal advice before entering to any of these types of agreements but; in future, make sure that all agreements contain confidentiality clauses worded to the same effect as explained above.

When am I able to have an economic interest in a player?                                                                                                                                                                                                         A: Never, unless you are acting solely for the club in the transfer of a player and you are being paid commission on the transfer fee for example.

I have agreements in place with clubs to provide them with consultancy services, am I obliged to disclose these to the FA? 

A: The obligation to disclose these types of agreements is on the club and not you.

Practical advice: The point of the addition of E8(iii) is to prevent clubs from disguising the payment of an agent’s fees as the provision of other services.

What teams/clubs am I able to sponsor?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           A: You are able to sponsor any team in the National League System from Steps 5 and below.

Practical advice: Interestingly there is nothing stopping you from sponsoring a Premier League club’s ladies’ team.

Please find links to the FA’s website where the regulations and guidance are contained below:

http://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/policies/intermediaries/regulation-and-forms

Should you have any issues concerning the FA’s Regulations on Intermediaries 2019/20 please call our offices on 0113 426 0001 to make enquiries as to how we may be able to help you.

Disclaimer
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.


Front Row Legal are a boutique law firm that specialises in Sport, Media and Business Law in England and Wales. They have specialist knowledge in these areas of law, which means they can help where many law firms won’t have the experience. They are based in Leeds with a national client base. frontrowlegal.com