Video: Fabio Capello's criticism of FA's over John Terry unlikely to result in his dismissal
Published 06/02/2012 | 07:45
FABIO Capello’s public criticism of the FA’s decision to strip John Terry of the England captaincy is ‘highly unlikely’ to be grounds for his dismissal, according to employment law specialists.
The England manager has spoken out against the FA by expressing his disapproval of stripping Terry of the armband as he awaits trial for alleged racial abuse.
Former FA chief executive, David Davies, has claimed Capello is in breach of contract by making his feelings public and has therefore jeopardised his position.
But some legal experts believe if the Italian was dismissed on such a basis, it would suggest the FA was looking for a chance to replace him before Euro 2012.
Richard Nicolle, a specialist in employment law at SNR Denton, said: “An employer could jump at the chance if they wanted an opportunity to dismiss an employee, but I would consider it highly unlikely in this situation.
“Perhaps if we were in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup in South Africa it would be looked upon differently.
"There are compensation issues to consider in the last year of Fabio Capello’s contract and it is only four months before another major tournament, so I would be amazed if this was the course the Football Association wished to pursue even if there was a breach.
“In relation to the issue of Capello expressing an opinion on the captaincy, it depends on his contract and whether it allows him the provision to comment publicly on any matter which contradicts the approach of his employers at the FA.
“In usual circumstance, if a senior manager publicly undermines the collective decision of a board it can still be debatable whether it is grounds for dismissal. Unless it is specified under the terms of a contract that if a board makes a decision, no senior manager will make any public comment, there may be no basis for disciplinary action.
“Fabio Capello has clearly spoken to the Press in Italy, but there are grey areas in employment law. It would be very surprising, for example, if Fabio Capello has not been informed in advance of the decision to change the captaincy and not given the reason for it.
"It would be understandable he would wish to express a view on it as it impacts on his job, but the technicalities of whether there has been a breach or not on the basis of him answering a question in the Press could be difficult to establish.
"Unless there is a specific provision in the Italian’s contract forbidding him to publicly utter any contrary opinion to those of the FA board, a sacking is highly unlikely. Only if there is would he be in any jeopardy.”
Mr Nicolle believes the issue of what managers and players have a right to say publicly has become more complicated in recent years with social media removing the boundaries between the once highly sanitised comments of high profile stars and the public.
Numerous sporting personalities have fallen foul of Twitter, for example, which can also lead to breaches of employment law.
“There may be more examples of clubs making provisions warning their employees to make any inappropriate remarks,” said Mr Nicolle.
“We have seen this with players using Twitter, but managers are also having to be more aware in how they speak to the Press. Any comments which can be deemed derogatory, particularly against their own employers, can be seen as a breach of discipline and be grounds for action.”
Earlier, ex-FA Chief Executive Davies said he understood Capello’s criticism of the Terry decision was a cause for concern at Wembley.
"It is being taken very seriously by the FA because it may be that Fabio Capello has breached his contract," Davies told BBC's Breakfast Time show.
"You have to ask what his motive is. You have to suspect he wants to prevent John Terry retiring as a player before Euro 2012, but there are wider issues.
"You could have what some of the media are calling a morality circus while England are trying to win the second major tournament in football.
"A contract may have been breached, there is strong leadership now at the FA from David Bernstein. Last week he wasn't slow to take things forward and he may not be slow to do so now."
Speaking in Italy, Capello was asked whether he was in agreement with FA's decision.
"No, absolutely not,” he said. "I have spoken to the chairman and I have said that, in my opinion, one cannot be punished until it's official and the court - a non-sporting court, a civil court - has made a decision to decide if John Terry has done what he has been accused of."