The Football League has recruited its first in-house lawyer.
Nicholas Craig has joined the league in its Preston office following six years with Manchester firm Widdows Pilling. His role will be one of general adviser. Craig said: "There is not, at this stage, the need for an internal specialist in every area to act for the league. But the fact of the matter is that this is a fantastic opportunity for me. It's a new role so it is for me to prove myself." Craig will be responsible for coordinating the provision of external advice following an assessment of the firms previously used by the league. He said: "It will be important to select outside assistance on the basis of the league's needs in different areas." The league, which incorporates national divisions one, two and three, formerly employed firms on the basis of an informal panel. Of the firms on the panel, Hammond Suddards Edge enjoyed the largest share of the work based on the league's historical relationship with pre-merger entity Edge Ellison. Hammond Suddards Edge also acts for Bradford City FC, Aston Villa FC and Leicester City FC. Craig brings experience gleaned from working for sports clients at Widdows Pilling. In addition to acting for rugby clubs in the region, he advised clients primarily on employment matters. David Burns, chief executive of the Football League, also a qualified solicitor, said: "I'm delighted to welcome Nicholas to the league. He is experienced and eager to join at what is an exciting time for the Football League. He will provide invaluable in-house expertise and one of his primary tasks will be to undertake a comprehensive review of our disciplinary rules and regulations." Craig's initial focus will be on the legal administration issues of the company, employment law and commercial contracts.