Thursday 22 April 2021 4:04 pm

Jose Mourinho: Would sacked Tottenham boss be entitled to unfair dismissal?

As Gary Lineker pointed out this week, it has been a good time to hide bad news in football, with the announcement of the European Super League and the fallout which followed.

And so, Jose Mourinho’s departure as head coach of Tottenham Hotspur has largely fallen under the radar. 

Mourinho would fail to meet the necessary two-year period of service to bring a claim for unfair dismissal as his employment with Tottenham only lasting 17 months of a contract due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season.   

There are limited circumstances in which a claim for unfair dismissal can be brought in an employment tribunal without two-year’s qualifying service, for example, where an individual alleges discrimination or has blown the whistle.

In this scenario, it is unlikely either of these will apply as it the performance of the team that appears to be the focus of the club’s ire. 

In any event, Mourinho’s reported payout of £17m dwarfs the current employment tribunal statutory cap on compensation for unfair dismissal of £89,493, and even the potentially unlimited recovery available for discrimination and whistleblowing claims. 

Clubs forced to pay out or breach contracts

Mourinho has made substantial sums of money from departing various clubs – reportedly in the region of £77.5m.

The dismissing clubs have paid these significant sums because failing to would leave themselves open to a claim for breach of the unexpired fixed term of the manager’s contract.

Depending on the bargaining power of the respective parties, clubs and managers can agree contractual provisions that mitigate the effect of the potentially costly claims for the unexpired portion of the contract. 

The Football Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal decided in favour of the contractually-agreed termination payment of £2m in Kevin Keegan’s dispute with Newcastle United in 2009.

David Moyes allegedly had an underperformance clause included in his contract at Manchester United which acted as a cap on the damages he was entitled to receive when he was dismissed in 2014. 

Mourinho has indicated that he intends to stay in football and that he does not need a break from the sport. It will therefore be interesting to see where he gets his next contract. 

Jonathan Metliss is the chairman of Axiom Stone Solicitors and Rachel Lester and Alex Huston are solicitors within the firm’s employment team.

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