Players can ‘walk away’ from their clubs on June 30

A leading sports lawyer says out-of-contract players in England can ignore FIFA proposals and leave their clubs at the end of June, even if the season has not resumed.

Nick De Marco QC, who has represented sports governing bodies, players, clubs and agents since 2002, says players will be entitled to “walk away” from clubs if their contracts expire on June 30.

Earlier this week, FIFA proposed that contracts are “extended until such time that the season does actually ended”, and asked for the same principle to be applied to contracts due to begin when the new season starts.

But De Marco says their recommendations cannot be enforced under English employment law.

“Legally, they cannot be forced to continue to play for the club,” De Marco, of Blackstone Chambers, told Sky Sports News.

“Nobody can force them to do so; FIFA, the FA, the club or anybody else. If they want to walk away, that’s a matter for them but it will really be a matter of whether, financially, that makes sense for them.

“What you’re most likely to see as a preferred option is probably very short-term extensions of contracts based on existing salary terms. That won’t suit everyone, and it can’t be forced on anyone in England.

“For example, if you’re a player coming towards the end of your contract and, perhaps, the end of your career, maybe you only have one more contract left, you may be very reluctant to sign a contract for only a few weeks or an indeterminate period of time.

“If you’re a lower league club, financially stressed, you won’t be wanting to pay players beyond June 30. So, a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t going to work. It’s going to depend on each case. The key is going to be agreements.”

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