McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

McHale’s Law - Irish Post Newspaper - 19.04.13

I was delighted to be a guest of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) a couple of weeks ago at a conference in Dublin. I was there officially in my capacity as the Chairman of the Manchester Irish Association.

We were discussing the establishment of an official supporters club branch at our club (most people know us as the Chorlton Irish Club). In addition the FAI presented on their soccer for all programmes and their national emerging talent programme to develop the elite footballers of the future.

In relation to the development of Irish football (or soccer if you prefer), I must declare a vested interest: I am a fan of the game both domestically and internationally, supporting the current English champions (I am from Manchester after all!) and the Republic of Ireland team. In addition, I have a professional interest: my firm represents footballers in the League of Ireland and throughout English and Scottish football. But what’s this got to do with Law ? Well quite a lot actually. 

The law is  the lubricant that makes sport work: from the rules of the game and their enforcement, to the contracts that players and clubs enter into, to the sponsorship agreements  that are the lifeblood of amateur clubs in all sporting disciplines, the law and the need for legal advice is an ever present. And what an amazing export Irish sport is!

There are currently approximately 260 Irish footballers earning a living in England and Scotland from the academies of clubs through to the first team. The GAA is thriving overseas.  Irish Golf is a world power. Irish Provincial Rugby has triumphed in Europe over the last number of years. Our equestrian heritage is second to none and the racing and horse trade generate huge incomes for the Country. I could do on and on but you get the picture.

The community cohesion and “feel good” factor that sport can generate, especially important  in hard times, should not be underestimated. We should also not be shy of celebrating the financial benefits that can come from having a thriving and exportable sports industry. Sport in Ireland is a good news story and we should be shouting it from the rooftops.

The sporting  links that cross the Irish sea are a great benefit to us all in these islands and let’s not forget it’s a two way street. Whilst the result against Austria at the Aviva a couple of weeks ago was disappointing, I did note that Irelands two goals were scored by a lad from the North west of England who wanted to pull on the green jersey.

Irish Football had it’s greatest days when it embraced the it’s diaspora - we have a honours board up in our Club that celebrates the 13 lads that we know of who were born in Greater Manchester and played for Ireland. That tradition should be embraced again and I think it will be.

I’m delighted to be able to combine one of my major interests with working as a solicitor. The representation of sports people (especially footballers) by professionals such as solicitors is a growing trend and makes perfect sense-drafting contracts, negotiating, dealing with problems etc is what we do after all. Being uniquely placed in offering this service in both Dublin and Manchester has given me a great insight and I see a bright future for Irish sport both domestically and as an export.

If things carry on the way there are then you never know we may even be able to produce a cricketer capable of captaining England… wait a minute.

Categories: General, Sports Law
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