Eastham V Newcastle United FC 1964


Last week we discussed the notable Bosman ruling.[1]Today’s case is the precursor to that very case and is an interesting analysis to display how sporting bodies have attempted to adapt the law which has made provisions to keep sporting within the realms of the law at times hence reinforcing the notion that sports can be legislated upon.

Due to the influence of Bosman, this case is often forgotten about.[2]However, for sports law academics it is important to be aware of. In this case[3]a footballer was being retained by his previous club Newcastle United FC and they were refusing to transfer him to another club. As the governing body had a contractual clause that when a player was registered with the association of his club he must only play for that club whilst he is registered. Players had to be registered and clubs were allowed to hold onto players after the season ended (retained). If a player is retained they were not able to play for another club, however, were not actually employed by the retaining club and would not have an employment contract until they re-signed the previous. Whilst in this retainment period, Eastman wished to transfer as he was no longer happy at the previous club. However, due to the retainment, he was unable to transfer without their permission that they refused to grant. He felt that this retention was not binding by law as the agreement was an unreasonable restraint of trade and/or ultra vires. The court held that the provisions that enabled a players retention were a restraint of trade. As they operated after an employment termination and prevented the players from working and gaining wages until they resigned and were not in the best interests of the players and no reasonable explanation for such a provision could be sought. Therefore, it was held that provisions were a restraint of trade and were ultra vires. When the transfer fee inclusion was brought in to replace this, Bosman used a similar argument within his case discussed previously.[4]


References

Books

Mark James, Sports Law(3rdedn, Palgrave, 2017)


Simon Boyes, ‘Eastham v Newcastle United Football Club Ltd [1964] Ch 413’ in Jack Anderson, Leading Cases in Sports Law(Asser Press 2015)

Case Law

Eastham v Newcastle United Football Club Ltd [1964] Ch 413

Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman (1995) C-145/93




[1]Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman (1995) C-145/93 [2]Mark James, Sports Law(3rdedn, Palgrave, 2017) [3]Eastham v Newcastle United Football Club Ltd [1964] Ch 413 [4]Simon Boyes, ‘Eastham v Newcastle United Football Club Ltd [1964] Ch 413’ in Jack Anderson, Leading Cases in Sports Law(Asser Press 2015)

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