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Simon Leaf comments on the legal implications of Cristiano Ronaldo's interview with TalkTV

Posted on 16 November 2022

Head of Mishcon de Reya's Sports Group, Simon Leaf, spoke recently about reports that Manchester United will consider legal advice after their player, Cristiano Ronaldo, took part in an interview where he criticised the club.

Simon's comments, which are reported across various media outlets, outline the legal position of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United – and discuss a possible resolution to the issue.

He explained: "Given the explosive allegations that have been made against United in Ronaldo's apparently unauthorised interview with Piers Morgan, it comes as no surprise that the club will be considering its options with its legal team carefully.

Not only have serious allegations been made against how the club has handled Ronaldo's personal issues, which may mean that the club is in breach of its own duty of care to Ronaldo itself, but also the club may itself have a right to terminate Ronaldo's contract.

What many people don't realise is that all Premier League players sign up to the same Premier League employment contract with their clubs. Under that agreement, Ronaldo is obliged to "comply with and act in accordance with all lawful instructions of any authorised official of the Club" and he is also not allowed to "write or say anything which is likely to bring the Club… into disrepute…or cause damage to the Club". The same clause goes on to suggest that he would have had to give Manchester United "reasonable notice of his intention to make any contributions to the public media".

As a result, it would appear that Ronaldo is clearly in breach of his employment agreement, which under its terms, entitles the Club to terminate the contract. However, the club are caught between a rock and a hard place, as this termination right is subject to Ronaldo's right to appeal – especially as he seems to be suggesting that United are in breach of its own duties 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 wrangle, and, from experience, one suspects, that given the sums involved in terms of wages and a potential transfer fee that may be forgone, both Ronaldo and the club, will now try to resolve the issues as amicably as possible in private with a view to both parties saving face."

Related coverage

The Independent
The Daily Mail
The Athletic
Inside World Football

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