Sports lawyers to help footballers stay out of trouble

Matthew Chantler: Warns promising footballers can fall by wayside without legal advice.
Matthew Chantler: Warns promising footballers can fall by wayside without legal advice.
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Sports lawyers at Mills & Reeve have joined forces with League Football Education (LFE) to help educate young footballers and ensure they stay on the right side of the law.

The national law firm has developed a legal awareness course that will fit in the LFE’s wider life skills development work. The course will mainly deal with issues off the pitch that young footballers might face.

Matthew Chantler, senior solicitor in the sports team at the Manchester office of Mills & Reeve, told The Yorkshire Post that some promising young footballers can fall by the way side as a result of not being given the education.

He said: “You get this situation, I’ve dealt with players before, where they’ve not fully understood what the rules are and what the consequences can be.”

The course entails a seminar, a quiz and watching videos to make sure that young footballers stay on the right side of the law. The initiative has already been piloted with players from Bury FC.

While the emphasis is mainly on dealing with off-the-field issues, there is crossover to consequences of actions on the pitch.

Mr Chantler said: “While the focus is on mainly dealing with off-field issues, the seminars also cover the ramifications of actions on the field.

“For example when we are talking about the law of assault and different criminal offences one of the videos that we watch is a video of Ben Flower, the Rugby League player who punched an opponent during the Grand Final. Even on field incidents can still fall under the remit of criminal law.”

The LFE was established by the Football League and the Professional Footballers’ Association over a decade ago to manage the apprenticeship programme at academies in the Football League.

LFE chief executive, Alan Sykes, said: “We believe that these sessions will deliver some key messages and provide a valuable opportunity to inform, educate and enhance the academic learning the players already receive.”

The sports team at Mills & Reeve recently advised Angel Di Maria on his multi-million pound transfer to Manchester United.