Leaders
Dallmeier

Business Directory

Browse the Directory

Sign Up to the Directory

FC Business Twitter
FC business Linked in
FC Business facebook
FC Business Youtube

Football officials win age discrimination claim

Fri 16th Apr 2010 | Legal

Four assistant referees have been found to have been unlawfully discriminated against when they were retired from officiating at top-level football games at the age of 48.

The Sheffield Employment Tribunal found that the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL), who appoint referees and assistant referees to Premier League and League football matches, could not justify having a set retirement age for match officials and had provided no justification for setting any such age at 48. 

Robert Martin, John Stokes and Andy Williams were until recently assistant referees on the select group and officiated on matches in the Premier League. Mark Hutchinson was an assistant on the national list officiating on matches in the Championship and Football League. All four were removed having attained the PGMOL retirement age of 48.

The officials, supported by their trade union Prospect, and represented at the hearing by Counsel Declan O’Dempsey, succeeded in their claim that the retirement age and the enforced retirement is discriminatory under the age discrimination law. Several other officials have been given exemptions to continue beyond the retirement age.

The tribunal held that PGMOL could not satisfy the hearing that the retirement age policy it had adopted was a proportionate means to a legitimate aim, such as to justify the disadvantage to the match officials.

The judgment says ‘we cannot be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the means adopted is the only means of achieving their aim and cannot be satisfied that there are not alternatives which are less discriminatory.’

The tribunal also found that even if PGMOL had been justified in having a retirement age they had not satisfied the tribunal that the appropriate age was 48.

Alan Leighton, National Secretary of Prospect said: “This is a significant judgement and we look forward to negotiating new arrangements that ensure the best and fittest officials, regardless of age, are able to officiate at the highest levels, while still providing career opportunities for younger officials. The Tribunal’s decision may also have implications for officials due to retire at the end of this season.”

The four had also claimed that they were employed by PGMOL and that their termination amounted to unfair dismissal, but the tribunal found that they were not employees and could therefore not succeed in an unfair dismissal case.

The Tribunal will set a further hearing shortly to determine the remedy for the four match officials. The case was heard at the Sheffield Employment Tribunal from 12 to 17 March 2010.

Add to: Google Google | Yahoo Yahoo | Live Live | del.icio.us del.icio | Digg Digg |

Related Articles

Legal Comment: Football’s Deep Filled Problem With Gambling

Fri 24th Feb 2017 | Legal

On 20 February 2016, the FA Cup fixture between Sutton United and Arsenal turned into a media frenzy and one to remember, for all the wrong reasons. Laura McCallum, solicitor at Harper Macleod...

Manchester City Charged Over Anti-Doping Rule Breaches

Thu 12th Jan 2017 | Legal

The Football Association (The FA) have charged Manchester City for failing to ensure anti-doping officials knew where players were for drugs testing. Manchester City have been charged for failing to...

Hitchin Town Player Sacked For Abusive Tweets

Wed 4th Jan 2017 | Legal

Alfie Barker has been sacked by Hitchin Town and is under investigation by the Football Association after vile messages from his Twitter account were sent to AFC Bournemouth and Republic of Ireland...

CAS Reduces Transfer Sanctions On Real Madrid

Tue 20th Dec 2016 | Legal

Real Madrid will have sanctions imposed on them by FIFA for breaches of rules regarding the transfer of minors reduced. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) partially upheld the appeal of the...