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The FA’s news rules on the regulation of player agents: A critique

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Football Agents Regulations.
    2. Furore surrounding the Regulations.
    3. The focus of this analysis.
  2. Background to the implementation of the Regulations.
  3. laissez-faire attitude to breaches.
  4. Definition of 'transaction' related to Regulations.
  5. This provision.
    1. Agent can not act for both the player and the club.
    2. The irony of this provision.
    3. The FA rationale behind the provision.
  6. The FA intention behind the new remuneration structure.
  7. Requirement for lawyers to apply for registration before acting for a club or player.
  8. Conclusion.

On 21 November 2006, the Football Association (FA) approved and implemented the new domestic Football Agents Regulations (the Regulations), which came into effect in September 2007. Whilst it is too early to ascertain the impact of the Regulations on conduct of player agents, they have sparked controversy with existing player agents, with numerous threats of legal action against the FA challenging legality of the Regulations . The drive behind the Regulations was the FA's determination to establish a clear set of guidelines in response to a string of high profile misconduct claims involving football agents . However, the furore surrounding the Regulations led chairman of the Association of Football Agents (AFA) Mel Stein to argue that the ?regulations go far beyond having a relationship between licensed agents and the FA ?, resulting in what he terms as a ?witch hunt? .On the other hand, the FA argued that these changes were good for restoring confidence in the game and that ?what we are doing is bringing in a set of regulations which will improve transparency, address potential conflicts of interest and better and move effectively regulate these areas of the game? .

[...] Furthermore, G4 of the Regulations provide that where an agent acts directly or indirectly on behalf of the player: ?only that Player may remunerate the Authorised Agent for the Agency Activity, whether directly or indirectly.? Accordingly, payments cannot be made by the club,[21] and payments made by the player will be by way a genuine deduction by the Player's Club from the salary payable to the Player, at the Player's written instruction, so that the sum is paid to the Authorised Agent?[22]. [...]

[...] Whilst it remains to be seen whether the FA's intentions as embodied in the Regulations will be enforced or remain a rhetorical restriction on player agents, it will be interesting to see how far agents will attempt to comply with the provisions in light of the FA's record under the previous regulations. One of the most controversial changes proposed by the Regulations is the abolition of dual representation. Part C of the Regulations provides that Authorised Agent may only act for one party to a Transaction or Contract Negotiation. [...]

[...] Moreover, the judicial rationale for the decision was based on the premise that the licence system did not prevent competition and instead ensured a qualitative selection of agents necessary to promote the objectives of raising professional standards in the selection of player agents[38]. The decision was approved by the ECJ and if we consider this reasoning by analogy to the FA Regulations, it would suggest that the licensing requirements will be justified as complying with competition law on the same basis. [...]

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