Under the banner of headlines such as “Callum Lang heads late winner as League Two Oldham humble Fulham,” the UK Sunday newspapers recently revelled in reporting that in a third round FA Cup tie, a Championship Division 2 side Oldham, beat premiership Fulham 2 – 1 at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. The reports all essentially confirmed that with everything to play for and nothing to lose, Oldham performed magnificently and outplayed their opponents.

This is the stuff of the English FA Cup, the competition that brings out the underdog in most football followers. There is nothing that they like more than seeing a big club humbled by a lower ranking team, in this case, a side without a full-time manager, who are currently engaging a largely untried local fan as first-team coach.

In one sense there is no obvious correlation between Oldham’s giant-killing feat and mediation. Mediation is a private confidential process that is certainly not conducted in the full glare of the public gaze. Mediators are facilitators rather than referees and they do not oversee sendings off, throw-ins or penalty shootouts. Mediators do not blow whistles, send match reports to the Football Association or as is happening currently, try to make sense of television replays.

Notwithstanding these differences there are some quite obvious parallels. English football now has a set of “Fair Play” regulations, rules which in spirit, are embodied in the ethos of mediation. Also, in the same way that the official who refereed the Fulham v Oldham Athletic match ensured that the rules were applied equally and possibly forestalled the possibility of either club flexing its muscles or resorting to unwarranted gamesmanship, a mediator ensures that there is equality of arms and that all involved have an equal opportunity to contribute, communicate and be listened to. Unlike FA Cup ties, the mediation process is private and confidential. In other spheres, football clubs, their managers and their supporters may find themselves needlessly and unfairly subject to sensationalised, possibly inaccurate media coverage. In essence, mediation is the epitome of the sporting concept of the “level playing field”.

Are you one of the following?

  1. A club chairman in the throes of negotiating a leaving package for a former manager or player?
  2. A player accused of wrongdoing by his or her club who is the subject of disciplinary proceedings, possibly involving the FA?
  3. A member of playing staff endeavouring to resolve a grievance about monies believed to be due you by your club but which thus far have not been paid?
  4. A football agent in dispute with a client?
  5. An aggrieved shareholder?

If you are one of these, you may be able to negotiate informally and resolve matters quite satisfactorily. However, that may not always be the case and if so, mediation may be the way forward.

As a cost-effective remedy, it could save you and your club thousands of pounds, a particular attraction in an era when so many clubs are cash-strapped. The timeliness of mediation means that your particular difficulties could be addressed and resolved in a matter of days or weeks rather than months. The press cannot become involved and reputations that might otherwise be tarnished will be preserved. Those who are “at fault” may have the opportunity of offering meaningful apologies and offering proportionate recompense.

The ASM PLUS Sports & Civil/Commercial Teams have extensive experience in resolving such matters. We could be assisting you as early as next week and being very good at what we do, we will make a difference.

An informal discussion with our Director, Paul Sandford, will cost you nothing and commit you to nothing. Call him on (07476) 279 307. His phone line is open now and he awaits your call. ASM PLUS could save English football hundreds or thousands of pounds.