The FA Premier League has today announced that the Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal set up to consider Alan Curbishley’s claim of wrongful dismissal against West Ham United Football Club has unanimously upheld that claim.
Alan Curbishley, who was represented at the hearing by Paul Gilroy QC of 9 St John Street Chambers, resigned at the beginning of the 2008/09 Season after the Club sold Anton Ferdinand and subsequently George McCartney to Sunderland against his wishes. The Tribunal, which was chaired by retired Court of Appeal Judge Sir Philip Otton, upheld Mr Curbishley’s right to have ultimate sole authority in relation to the sale and purchase of players. The Club also dismissed the Club’s Counterclaim relating to the cost of employing Gianfranco Zola and his Assistant, Steve Clarke. Compensation will now be assessed.
Commenting after the outcome was published, Alan Curbishley said “I am obviously delighted with this result. I very much enjoyed my time at West Ham and never wanted to leave, but on joining the Club I insisted that my contract contained a clause confirming that I would have final say on the selection of players to be transferred to and from the Club. The Club completely ignored my contract when selling Anton Ferdinand, and when George McCartney was then sold, the Club having given me assurances that no players would be leaving the Club after the sale of Anton Ferdinand, I had no alternative but to resign. My authority and integrity were undermined and my position was made untenable. I now wish to put this entire matter behind me”.
Paul Gilroy QC stated “the Tribunal held that the conduct of the Club amounted to a fundamental breach of contract, and concluded that Mr Curbishley was therefore entitled to resign”.
Coming hot on the heels of the similar outcome in the case pursued by Kevin Keegan under the same arbitration procedure, the Curbishley decision represents a further strengthening of the authority of the modern day football manager. Further details in relation to the case can be found on the FA Premier League website: www.premierleague.com. The full decision has yet to be published.