As a lawyer and Chelsea supporter, I noted with interest the reports that Jose Mourinho has possibly signed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester United – reported here and here as well as in numerous other publications.
A few quick points possibly of interest on this :-
If correct, I would speculate that Manchester United, not yet ready to commit to replacing their existing manager, Louis Van Gaal, might consider offering such an agreement to commit Mr Mourinho to become their Manager so as to avoid him joining another club.
If such an Agreement is in place, it may also be an attempt by the club to hedge it’s bets. For months now there has been speculation that Mr Van Gaal will be sacked or resign. Neither has happened. It may be that Mr Van Gaal has a clause in his contract that any compensation for loss of office is lost or limited if he doesn’t meet certain performance targets.
The club still has a chance of qualifying for next year’s Champions League. It may be that any pre-contract might be linked to that.
If there is a pre-contract committing Mr Mourinho it would be interesting to know what any such agreement commits Manchester United to. It could range from very little to a pretty firm commitment.
The concept of a pre-contract agreement may seem odd but in fact these agreements are quite common, used in a variety of situations, from property law (although limited to lock out or exclusivity) to corporate law and even employment law. Such agreements are binding as much as any other contract.
Another interesting aspect is confidentiality. I would imagine that any pre-contract agreement would contain clear and carefully drafted confidentiality clauses. If there is an agreement in place, someone seems to have leaked it. There could be implications both for the ongoing enforceability of any pre-co0ntract agreement and possibly also the contract relationship between Mr Van Gaal and Manchester United.
The above points are purely speculative and of general applicability. The existence of any pre-contract agreement, it’s terms or the contractual arrangements between Van Gaal and Manchester United are not definitively known.
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