Professor Richard Parrish

Exactly 25 years since the infamous Bosman ruling changed the world of football, Edge Hill University is hosting an online event to revisit the case and assess its legacy on the game.

The Centre for Sports Law Research (CSLR) at Edge Hill will mark the anniversary with a virtual panel discussion featuring some of the UK’s leading lawyers, on Thursday 17th December.

The landmark Bosman case relates to the European Court of Justice’s 1995 ruling granting players greater freedom of movement within the European Union.

The event ‘Bosman at 25: Contemporary Issues in Sports Law will be chaired by the Director of CSLR and Chair of EU Sports Law and Policy, Professor Richard Parrish.

Christopher Vajda QC, the former UK judge at the European Court of Justice, has been invited as a special guest speaker at the event. Christopher held the prestigious position from 2012 until the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union in January 2020, during which time he was party to judgments in a broad spectrum of fields.

An image of Former UK Judge at the European Court of Justice, Christopher Vajda QC
Christopher Vajda, UK Judge at the European Court of Justice (2012-2020) Pic:NICK STRUGNELL

Panellists include Edge Hill alumnus and former professional footballer Gareth Farrelly. Following a successful career as a Premier League footballer, Gareth studied Law at Edge Hill University before qualifying as a commercial litigation lawyer in the city of London. Currently a solicitor at law firm Bermans, Gareth is also a member of the FA Judicial Panel and an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

He will be joined on the panel by Barrister Steve Flynn of Kings Chambers Manchester and Laura McCallum, Head of Football Administration and Legal Affairs at Dundee United Football Club.

Prof Parrish said: “The Bosman ruling changed football and the sporting world more generally, enhancing players’ rights to move freely within the EU. While many players benefitted greatly, some point to the negative effects of the ruling such as ‘player power’, competitive imbalances, a lack of incentives to develop young players and financial stress. During this event, we will be re-examining the case, its implications and its contemporary relevance in sport today.”

The panel will also discuss other issues including the UK’s departure from the EU and the impact of Covid-19 on sport, as well as the ‘next Bosman’ – the judgment of the Court of Justice in the International Skating Union (ISU) case, expected to be handed down the day before on 16th December.

The CSLR at Edge Hill has been instrumental in providing an evidence base informing the EU’s thinking in this area, having written the European Commission’s legal assessment of UEFA’s home-grown player rule and its study into nationality discrimination in Olympic sports. It also delivered a comprehensive EU funded analysis of football agent regulation across Europe.

Edge Hill’s law courses are qualifying Law degrees, meaning that they prepare students for entry into legal practice. Sports Law and International Sports Law can be selected as optional modules in Year 3.