MEDIATION IN A UK SOCCER DISPUTE
23 JANUARY 2024
Roy of the Rovers was a British comic that first appeared in 1954 as The Tiger with the focus on Roy Race and Melchester Rovers. It caught the attention of the UK soccer world and in due course changed its name to Roy of the Rovers. Mature readers of the publication quietly made their way to their local newsagent to buy the comic and follow the fortunes of the heroic Roy. It published 851 issues and reached weekly sales of 450,000. Memories of the publication will come to mind as the narrative unfolds.
Felixstowe Town are a prominent Premier Division club in the UK. Not a fashionable Club, Felixstowe is not a bustling city but merely a port town in Suffolk. The estimated population is 26,000 but the Town’s claim to fame is that the Port of Felixstowe is the largest container port in the United Kingdom and the town is only 72 miles northeast of London.
Despite their modest size, Felixstowe Town Football Club (FTFC) has nevertheless gained promotion to the Premier League and surprised many in the football world, not least in the Port of Felixstowe, by performing creditably in the top Division. They are now in their fifth season in the Premier League and have attracted the attention of the media, of players in the UK and abroad and, in particular, of football agents from the world of soccer.
The Chair of the Club is a self made Forwarding Agent with a love for the Club, the Team and the Town where she was born. She is known locally as Ms Chair and regarded with great affection by the fans. She has put Felixstowe on the map. She dominates the Board and there has been speculation that she would be elected MP if she stood as an Independent.
The Coach is from Harwich – he has surprised the world of football by making a playing success of the team who, in the current season, are challenging for a place in Europe. Ms Chair, who has always kept her feet firmly on the ground, knows that the Club has exceeded expectations. But she is aware that to make the Club a candidate for Europe and not for Relegation, FTFC needs to make a step up and bring in top players.
In the summer break Ms Chair and Mr Coach concluded that new signings were required if the Club was to remain a fixture in the top Division. But could the Club attract top level players? Would they come to Felixstowe if they were looking for a transfer to a London Club? Would the players’ families support a move to unfashionable Felixstowe? Had the Club lost touch with reality?
Ms Chair was well supported by local Banks. Revenue from TV rights had improved finances. Local bigwigs had financed ground expansion and the Club had started the new season with four wins, one draw and one defeat. The Transfer window was still open and the Club took the plunge and made three significant signings – a goalkeeper, a centre half and a striker.
Ms Chair kept close to the gossip – in the Town, in the Club and among the sponsors. But there were problems – small ones but something to be aware of. Ms Chair became aware of suggestions that the unmarried centre half had a roving eye and that the new striker was having difficulty persuading his wife to come to Felixstowe with their two children.
EPISODE 2 – THE STRIKER IS LATE FOR TRAINING.