A roundup of football law news and decisions from May 2024:

Sando Tonali sanctioned

Newcastle United FC’s (“NUFC”) Sandro Tonali (“ST”) has been sanctioned following an admitted breach of the FA Rules, r. E8.1. ST admitted that he had placed 50 bets between 12 August 2023 and 12 October 2023, four of which related to matches in which NUFC and/or ST were participating in.

ST was sanctioned with a two-month suspension from all football-related activity, suspended on condition of no further breach of the FA’s anti-betting rules by the end of the 2024/25 season, and a £20,000 fine.

The Regulatory Commission’s written reasons are available here.

The written reasons identify that ST played in three of the four NUFC matches he bet on (see para. 20 and 24 of the written reasons). Betting offences of this nature carry a sanction guideline of up to a six-month suspension and a fine. The remaining bets carried the sanction guideline of a fine.

The written reasons identify that the Regulatory Commission applied a starting point for sanction of a three-month suspension (see para. 43 of the written reasons).

It was noted by the Regulatory Commission that ST was aware that betting on football was contrary to the FA Rules and that ST had received FA training in respect of the same, and that ST’s participation in matches he bet on were ‘significant aggravating factors’ (see para. 46 of the written reasons). These aggravating factors, among others, increased the appropriate sanction to four months (see para. 47 of the written reasons).

It was also noted by the Regulatory Commission that ST is ‘still relatively young’ (albeit being 23 years old at the relevant time), and that ST had self-referred his misconduct to the FA (see para. 48 of the written reasons). The Regulatory Commission also noted that ST’s current 10-month suspension imposed by the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) (as explained in Football Law’s October 2023 Roundup) was ‘not a particular aggravating factor in the sense that it is not previous proven misconduct wholly unrelated to the misconduct before the Commission’.

It appears that ST’s cooperation with the FA was a weighty mitigating factor, which resulted in the Regulatory Commission reducing the four-month suspension to a two-month suspension (see para. 49 of the written reasons).

Additionally, ST’s cooperation was also one of the identified ‘clear and compelling reason(s)’ relied upon by the Regulatory Commission when suspending ST’s two-month suspension (see FA Disciplinary Regulations, Part A – General Provisions, Section 2 – Regulatory Commissions, para. 44,  and para. 52-56 of the written reasons).

Lucas Paqueta charged

West Ham United FC’s Lucas Paqueta has been charged with a breach of the FA Rules, r. E5.1 and F3:

E5.1 A Participant shall not, directly or indirectly, seek to influence for an improper purpose the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition’.

The charge under FA Rule, r. F3 appears to relate to LP’s alleged failure to cooperate with the FA’s investigations into his alleged breach of FA Rules, r. E5.1.

The FA’s statement identifies that LP’s alleged breach arises from his conduct during WHUFC’s Premier League matches against Leicester City FC on 12 November 202, Aston Villa FC on 12 March 2023, Leeds United on 21 May 2023 and AFC Bournemouth on 12 August 2023.

Swansea City FC player liaison officer suspended

Swansea City FC’s player liaison officer, Huw Lake, (“HL”) has been sanctioned with a 12-month suspension from all football-related activity and a fine of £1,500 following breaches of the FA Rules, r. E8.1 in respect of 2,476 bets placed between 3 April 2018 and 24 September 2023.

The Appeal Board’s written reasons (which substituted the Regulatory Commission’s decision with the above-stated sanction) are available here.

Of note from the Appeal Board’s written reasons are its comments on the need for substantiating evidence when seeking to establish a ‘clear and compelling’ reason to suspend a sanction (see para. 38 of the written reasons).

Additionally, the Appeal Board indicated it was not open to the Regulatory Commission and/or that it was uncertain whether mitigating factors can be relied upon as mitigation and as establishing a clear and compelling to suspend a sanction (see para. 39 of the written reasons). As can be seen from The FA v Sandro Tonali above, and cases such as The FA v Harry Toffolo, it is not uncommon for mitigating factors to also amount to a clear and compelling reason to suspend a sanction.

Nottingham Forest FC unsuccessful in PSR appeal

As explained in Football Law’s article ‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees’, Nottingham Forest FC (“NFFC”) had been sanctioned with a four-point deduction for breaching the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (“PSR”) upper loss threshold by £34.5 million for the period ending season 2022/23.

NFFC appealed against that decision on the basis that the Disciplinary Commission was wrong to not accept NFFC’s mitigation relating to its sale of Brennan Johnson, and that part of or all the four-point deduction should be suspended.

NFFC failed on both grounds of appeal.

The Appeal Board’s written reasons are available here.

Everton FC withdraw PSR appeal

As explained in Football Law’s article ‘Everton’s Double Trouble’, Everton FC (“EFC”) had been sanctioned with a two-point deduction for breaching the PSR upper loss threshold by £16.6 million for the period ending season 2022/23.

EFC had lodged an appeal against the sanction but on 10 May 2024 announced that it had withdrawn its appeal.

Reading FC, Nigel Howe and Glen Tweneboah sanctioned

On 15 May 2024 the FA announced that Reading FC (“RFC”), Nigel Howe (“NH”), CEO of RFC at the relevant time and still involved with RFC, and Glen Tweneboah (“GT”), a football agent, had each been sanctioned following their involvement in entering an agreement that provided for GT to receive 10% of any future transfer fee payment received by RFC for the sale of (as reported elsewhere) Michael Olise (“the Agreement”).

It was alleged that the Agreement was in breach of, inter alia, regulation E5 of the FA’s Working with Intermediaries Regulations (“FAWIW”) (in place at the relevant time, with the corresponding regulation now found in The FA’s Agent Regulations (“FAAR”), reg. 8.3(d)):

An Intermediary must not have, either directly or indirectly, any interest of any nature whatsoever in relation to a registration right or an economic right. This includes, but is not limited to, owning any interest in any transfer compensation or future transfer value of a Player or payments contingent on the future transfer of a Player. This does not prevent an Intermediary acting solely for a Club in relation to a Transaction to transfer a Player’s registration being remunerated by reference to the total amount of transfer compensation generated by solely that Transaction’.

The Regulatory Commission’s written reasons on liability, which are available here, provide helpful analysis on the approach to interpreting the Agreement and the applicable rules (see para. 74-110), including the application of the FAWIW, reg. E5 to GT, as agent, and RFC, as the other party to the Agreement: ‘[the Agreement required] two parties to act together: the Intermediary and another party such as a club or a player that grants the right’ (see para. 82 of the written reasons).

The Regulatory Commission’s written reasons on sanction are available here, and identify that (i) RFC was sanctioned with a £200,000 fine; (ii) NH was sanctioned with a six-month suspension from involvement with player-contract negotiations and transfer-related activity, to be followed by a further six-month suspension from all football-related activity, together with a £5,000 fine; and (iii) GT was sanctioned with a six-month suspension from all football-related activity to commence in November 2024, and a £15,000 fine.

The decision sends a warning to agents and other Participants that they should ensure familiarity with the FAAR. It is hoped that the introduction of the football agent licencing requirement and greater involvement from legal teams in football transfers reduces the likelihood of any similar situation arising in the future.

UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body and no overdue payables

UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (“CFCB”) announced its assessment of the requirement for no overdue payable during the 2023/24 seasons, identifying that 13 clubs have been sanctioned (see articles 70-73 and 80-83 and Annex H of UEFA’s Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability Regulations). Notable names among those clubs sanctioned include Galatasaray AS and FC Porto.

The CFCB’s announcement is available here, which includes a summary of the sanctions imposed.


FIFA has released its updated Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTP”) (June 2024 edition). The biggest changes to the RSTP relate to female players and coaches, as identified in FIFA Circular no. 1887, this Explanatory Note, and this FIFA statement. Among other things, the changes extend rights and protections to adoptive parents and non-biological mothers and add rights in respect of severe menstruation and medical complications relating to pregnancy.

FIFA Football Agent Regulations

As explained in Football Law’s December 2023 Roundup and March 2024 Roundup, the FIFA Football Agent Regulations (“FFAR”) have come under intense international scrutiny and legal action.

On 28 May 2024, it was reported that the Civil Court of Buenos Aires in Argentina ‘found that the suspended provisions of the [FFAR] prima facie infringe rights recognised by the Argentinian Constitution and that they would threaten the competition among national agents’.

HMRC guidance for dual representation

HMRC has published guidance for football agents and clubs in respect of dual representation agent agreements and the circumstances in which investigations into such agreements may take place, and the tax that is properly payable when such agreements are in place.

The guidance is available here.

4 June 2024

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