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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Decision to retire ageing chairman could open FA to legal challenge


The failure of the Football Association’s chairman to extend his tenure beyond his 70th birthday could leave the organisation open to legal challenge, a lawyer has warned.

The FA’s Council voted by 45 votes to 40 to reject a proposal both to waive a rule requiring directors to stand down when they turned 70 and to allow David Bernstein to stay on for another year until the end of the 2014 World Cup.
The age limit was imposed a few years ago in response to suggestions that the football governing body was run by old men.
Bernstein was appointed in December 2010, but turns 70 next May, which means that he will have to retire at next June’s Annual General Meeting. It also means that he will not see out his three-year term and the FA will be looking to appoint a new chairman during its 150th anniversary year.
The body justified its decision by saying in a statement that “it would be inappropriate to change known and agreed rules on an individual basis”.
But James Davies, joint head of law firm Lewis Silkin’s employment department, warned that retirement ages were outlawed last year due to changes to UK age discrimination legislation.
Because employers now had to justify a retirement age, the vast majority had dropped them. “UK and European cases have emphasised that it is a tough test to satisfy to justify a retirement age and it seems difficult to envisage the FA being able to do this in this case,” Davies said.
Moreover, the fact that Bernstein had agreed the retirement age when he joined the organisation was “irrelevant”, he added. “Someone can’t agree to be unlawfully discriminated against, or an employer who paid women less than men would be able to defend its actions by saying that the women agreed to lower pay,” Davies explained.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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