Cristiano Ronaldo, the legal position and whether Manchester United could terminate his contract


As the dust settles at Old Trafford following the initial shock waves of Cristiano Ronaldo’s highly critical interview, club executives have been busy examining their options for the next step in resolving an increasingly toxic situation.

On the day the first episode of the Talk TV interview with presenter Piers Morgan airs, the owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family, CEO Richard Arnold and director of football John Murtough, together with manager Erik ten Hag, will talk to their lawyers as they wait for the full extent of player comments over the next 24 hours.

So far, in excerpts also published by the newspaper Sun and in video clips that have been viewed more than 11 million times on social media, Ronaldo has accused his employers of betrayal and disrespect, lashing out at Ten Hag and the hierarchy of the club. Here’s what we know so far.

But what options does the club have? How could they take a constructive step forward after the 37-year-old superstar’s embarrassing polemic?

What is the biggest overweight for United based on what they know?

The most important thing for United is to establish through his comments the extent to which Ronaldo is in breach of his contract and what they can do next.

All top players sign a contract in the Eredivisie with their clubs.

Under that agreement, they are required to “comply with and act in accordance with all lawful instructions issued by an authorized officer of the club” and must not “write or say anything that may bring the club into disrepute … or cause it” . damage to the club”.

Jamie Singer, a partner at sports law specialists Onside Law, believes Ronaldo is already in breach of his standard contract.

“There is a specific provision in the contract about not saying anything that will discredit the club or damage the club’s reputation,” he says. “The content of the interview immediately puts him in violation.

“The standard terms also include, where possible, informing the club in advance of any interviews you are doing. He could have informed the club so I would think this was probably another foul.”

Obviously, United were made aware of the interview by Ronaldo’s camp on Sunday, shortly before Morgan’s first tweet to publish it, so it could be open to interpretation or that qualifies as reasonable advance notice.

“As I understand it, the standard contract does not prohibit players from doing interviews,” added Singer. “But it obliges them to try and help the club by telling them up front that they are doing it and making sure they join.”

In this case, Ronaldo is no different from his teammates or players from the 19 other clubs in the Premier League.

“It’s a standard Premier League contract that every Manchester United player has signed and every club is obliged to use,” says Singer. “He (Ronaldo) will have signed those stipulations.

“That includes implied terms about trust, loyalty and obeying reasonable instructions.

“There can be little doubt that what he has done puts him in breach of the standard contract. From what I have seen, accusing the club of treason, breach of commitments, it is quite easy to say that he is the discredited the club and harmed the interests of the club.”

What could happen if United decide that Ronaldo has breached his contract?

Ultimately, the club could end the deal with the Portuguese.

Having initially rejoined United on a two-year contract with an option for an additional year in August 2021, his current terms were set to expire in August 2023 – assuming no agreement was reached on that additional year.

However, if United’s hierarchy feel it’s impossible for the player to stay at the club and want to try and get rid of him, even despite appeals or further damaging publicity, there is a process they can follow.

The most important thing for United is to establish through his comments the extent to which Ronaldo is in breach of his contract (Image: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“If he’s in breach of contract, that’s one thing,” Singer added. “But if it’s such a fundamental breach of contract that can lead to termination, that’s another level.

“You can’t anticipate a few clips and out-of-context clips, so it makes sense for United and their legal team to know exactly what is being said and then pass judgement.”

United are best advised to follow the established process as they would in any potential breach of contract, and to consider all their options.

“There is a disciplinary procedure and if someone commits a breach of contract by doing something that should not have happened, the club has the option to fine and impose a penalty on the player,” Singer explained.

A high-profile precedent is former United striker Romelu Lukaku.

The striker gave an explosive interview to Sky Italia last season, criticizing Chelsea’s behavior when he was not playing regularly. Chelsea’s head coach at the time, Thomas Tuchel, said Lukaku would face “some discipline” during the interview, but unlike Ronaldo, this was a player who signed for £90 million just a few months earlier.

Lukaku, who also apologized for his interview, is now on loan for a season to Inter Milan, the club he had left for Chelsea.

“If it’s serious or the player doesn’t agree, you go to the disciplinary process where the player gets a chance to defend themselves,” says Singer. “The club will say what they think he did wrong, he can argue that he doesn’t think he has done anything wrong and then it’s up to the club’s board to decide what the penalty should be or if there should be one. follows.” all.

“In this situation it would be an internal hearing and possibly come to a situation where he has committed gross misconduct and they can terminate the contract.

“Or if they think there’s so much here, they can shorten it and say they don’t need a disciplinary process. They could argue that it is so obvious and obvious that it is gross misconduct that they would immediately resign with 14 days notice.

Are there any examples of players whose contracts have been terminated?

In August 2011, Hull City terminated record signing Jimmy Bullard following an incident during a pre-season trip to Slovenia.

Bullard had a lucrative deal until the end of the 2012–13 season and it led to a legal dispute between him and the club. The former midfielder is said to have eventually accepted a settlement and both parties have signed confidentiality agreements.

In 2014 Nicolas Anelka was sacked by West Bromwich Albion for gross misconduct. Anelka, who was handed a five-match ban and £80,000 fine from the Football Association for the quenelle gesture he made at West Ham — had announced via Twitter that he would be terminating his playing contract, which had three and a half months left to run.

Anelka was sacked by West Brom in 2014 for gross misconduct (Photo: John Walton – PA Images via Getty Images)

The club had suspended the Frenchman on full pay following the FA verdict and intended to complete its own investigation. West Brom had initially said his Twitter statement was “deeply unprofessional”.

Three hours later, the club revealed that they had written Anelka with 14 days notice as required by his contract. They said Anelka had not apologized for “the impact and consequences of his (quenelle) gesture” or accept a hefty fine, which would lift his suspension.

Singer believes United are best advised to go through the full process, no matter how upset they are about the interview.

“The safer route is to go through the process of a disciplinary hearing. We’ll lay it out and you can defend yourself,” he says. “Then we decide on the sanction.

“If they find him guilty of gross misconduct, which is very rare, the player can still challenge that with the Premier League. What makes it unusual is that the value of a player’s registration is typically this high. It’s unusual that a club would terminate the contract of a player’s entry because of the value of his entry.

“But here they pay him many hundreds of thousands a week and they won’t be able to sell him for a high transfer fee. That changes the dynamic quite a bit.

“To save £400,000 a week it might be worth going that route. There’s enough inflammatory in what we’ve seen that probably justifies gross misconduct.

“They would probably want to go through a disciplinary process to protect themselves against any claims that it had not been a fair trial. Knowing that Ronaldo would probably challenge them gives them an extra layer of protection.”

So what could be the final outcome?

Despite the possibility of tearing up his contract, United may choose to do things amicably and quietly.

Alongside criticism of United’s training ground facilities and a range of other damaging observations about culture, Ronaldo has accused the club of lacking “empathy” when his young daughter was hospitalized in July.

Simon Leaf, head of sports at law firm Mishcon de Reya, believes that a private handling of the case is the best way for the club to avoid further embarrassment.

“The club is caught between a rock and a hard place,” he says. “(A) the law of dismissal is subject to Ronaldo’s right of appeal, particularly as he appears to suggest that United are breaching its own obligations to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of its employees, which may extend to allowing Ronaldo time off in such difficult circumstances.

“There is no easy answer to this particular legal wrangling, and from experience it is suspected that both Ronaldo and the club, given the amounts involved in terms of wages and a potential transfer fee that can be waived, will now try to take the matter to court. to solve.” matters as amicably as possible face-to-face, with a view to saving both parties.”

(Top photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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