When I declared to my father yesterday that I would struggle to name more than one football manager, he looked at me like I'd just told him I was replacing David Moyes ("David"). Put simply, I am just not that clued up when it comes to football, however, I would have to have been born on another planet to not have heard about David's saga.
And poor David. I have been observing this tragedy unfold with my employment lawyer hat on - yes; it is easy to forget that the multi - billion pound industry is subject to the same employment laws as everybody else. My researcher (dad) has informed me that David was sacked after just 51 games as manager of Manchester United and interestingly, his predecessor, did not bring home a trophy for the club for a number of years.
It has become seemingly apparent that David didn't stand a chance and, moreover, it didn't look like he was ever really given a chance being dismissed just 10 months into a 6 year contract. The world's eyes were on him and from the start; he was destined to fail whilst his predecessor, shining like a Messiah in the background and stroking his white cat, watched without saying a word.
I am torn between considering that terminating his contract was an act of kindness-somebody had to step in and rescue him from the endless cruelty and ridicule and alternatively, that it was a terrible end to a terribly managed appointment. There are so many lessons to be learnt from what has happened, especially when it comes to recruitment and the management of leadership change!
From a legal perspective, it's quite interesting when it comes to David's fixed term contract situation. Unfortunately, when it comes to his statutory rights, he lacks the required two years' service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. We have, however, been informed that he signed a 6-year fixed-term contract in July 2013. Indeed, when appointing David, Manchester United publicly made a point of stating the long length of the contract, no doubt to give comfort to him, the players and the team's supporters after enjoying decades of unprecedented success under the same leader.
Within a fixed-term contract regime, unless there is a clear and unambiguous notice clause or an agreed termination payment clause, then prima facie, if the contract is breached, David may be entitled to receive payment of his salary and benefits for the remaining period of his contract.
The details of David's contract are not publicly known and there is no valid confirmation that there was a performance clause inserted, but the timing of his departure and the numerous media reports suggests one did. The majority appear to believe that there was a contractual performance break-clause which entitled his employer to terminate if he did not secure qualification in the Champions League, limiting his compensation upon termination to just one-year's salary in such circumstance.
It is highly likely that football clubs across the country will now be much more careful about making such long term appointments and moreover, they will be scrutinising contracts to ensure that they have a performance break clause inserted. Lessons that should be taken from this tragedy are to invest the time and money into ensuring your recruitment processes are up to the job and that your contracts suit your purposes for when it all goes wrong.
Any finally, with it being Shakespeare's birthday, it seems apt to finish with a quote for David over the next few weeks: "listen to many, speak to a few".