Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport
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Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport

Edited by Michael Barry, James Skinner and Terry Engelberg

Employment relations, much discussed in other industries, has often been neglected in professional sports despite its unique characteristics. The book aims to explore in detail the unique nature of the employment relationship in professional sports and the sport industry.
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Chapter 15: Player trades, free agents and transfer policies in professional sport

Simon Gardiner and Roger Welch


This chapter focuses on restraints on the freedom of movement and contract of professional sports participants. The emphasis is on the legality of transfer systems under European Union law – particularly Article 45 TFEU – in the wake of the 1995 Bosman ruling, and the adoption by FIFA of international transfer rules intended to enhance the mobility of players under contract. The chapter argues these rules have, in practice, failed to enhance player mobility so that their compatibility with Article 45 is in doubt. The chapter also critically examines the use of transfer windows, and rules which prohibit players under contract from approaching other clubs, or vice versa, with a view to moving to a new club. The chapter contends that the optimum method for the regulation of these issues would be through the adoption of a system of reflexive law using the method of EU social law as a paradigm.

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