Eversheds nets Man City FC to defend Royle action

Kuit Steinart conflicted out of contract clash as ex-manager claims foul play

Eversheds' Manchester office has been instructed by Manchester City Football Club to defend the unfair dismissal claim of former manager Joe Royle.
Eversheds was brought in as a substitute for Manchester City's regular adviser Kuit Steinart Levy. Kuit Steinart was the original author of the employment contract between Royle and Manchester City; it was therefore considered a conflict of interest for the firm to become involved in this action. The case has been passed to Eversheds' employment partner Peter Norbury.
Manchester firm George Davies is acting for Royle. The firm has a longstanding relationship with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), and it is this link that brought the case to George Davies partner Mark Hovell.
“Joe, like many football managers, is a past pro himself,” commented Hovell. “As such, he's entitled to ask the PFA for help on legal matters.” Royle has issued a claim stating that he was unfairly dismissed and not properly compensated.
He argues that he should not have been fired following his team's relegation from the Premier League. He also contends that his payoff of £200,000 was £500,000 less than he was entitled to.
The case hinges on whether Royle was managing a Premier League or First Division team at the time that he was dismissed from the club.
Hovell said: “A lot of it comes down to the interpretation of the contract.” Relegation was inevitable for the club, but Royle's team was still technically a Premier League side.
Manchester City chairman David Bernstein has emphasised the board's decision to defend the action. He believes the club acted in accordance with Royle's contract.
Eversheds was unavailable for comment, but is understood to be over the moon.