About Us
 
What is the IFO?

The office of the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO) was created in July 2008 by the English Football Authorities (the Football Association, the Premier League and The English Football League) with the agreement of Government. The IFO was established by the football authorities to receive and adjudicate on complaints which have failed to be resolved by football clubs or the football authorities. Furthermore, if the football bodies have dealt with a complaint in full, then the IFO can review whether due process was followed and the complaint handled properly. In these circumstances the IFO does not offer an alternative interpretation of rulings, but an examination of whether a complaint has been handled appropriately.

The IFO acts as a check and balance and is the final stage within football's complaints procedure. It is the successor body to the Independent Football Commission (IFC), which operated from 2002 to 2008 as an integral part of football’s self-regulatory system. In February 2016 the IFO was officially recognised as an Approved Alternative Dispute (ADR) Body under the 2015 Alternative Dispute Consumer Regulations. As such it is part of an EU wide ADR platform which can be accessed here HERE.

The vast majority of complaints are resolved at an early stage, but if you feel dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint you have submitted to a football body, such as a football club or governing body, then you can refer it to the IFO for investigation. The IFO will not accept a complaint unless the provider of the goods or services has had the opportunity to resolve the complaint. The IFO has no remit for incidents which occur on the field of play or for referee performance. It also has no role in relation to grassroots football or the county Football Associations. Its coverage is limited to the 92 English league clubs and to the competitions organised under the aegis of the three English Football authorities.

You may wish to communicate your concerns to the IFO by post, phone or email, using any of the contact addresses given in the website. However, do remember that the IFO can adjudicate formally only on those complaints which have already been dealt with by a football body.

All IFO Adjudication Reports are published in full on this website. The IFO will produce an Annual Report to the Minister for Sport and the Football Authorities. This report will be made publicly available.

 
 
Who’s who at the IFO?

The Independent Football Ombudsman (“IFO”) is comprised of a Chief Ombudsman and a Deputy Ombudsman, both of whom are classified as ADR Officials under The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015. They are assisted from time-to-time by the members of an Advisory Panel.

The Chief Ombudsman is appointed by the three football authorities (the Premier League, the Football Association and the EFL). The individuals who comprise the Advisory Panel are appointed by the Chief Ombudsman.

 
KEVIN GRIX LL.B, MCIArb, Barrister
Chief Ombudsman

Kevin was appointed on 01 January 2022 and is responsible for directing the activities of the Independent Football Ombudsman (“IFO”). Prior to his appointment, Kevin sat on the IFO’s Advisory Board between 2015 and 2021 where he advised his predecessor on casework and dispute resolution procedures.

Background

Prior to his career as an Ombudsman, Kevin spent 8-years working in football market operations for a leading online sports trading platform. He was responsible for overseeing the management of thousands of football markets, trading and settlement.

Kevin read law at university for 3 years and graduated with honours, prior to studying to be a Barrister in London at the Inns of Court School of Law. He was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, after successfully passing his Bar exams and is also professionally qualified by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Kevin has a dual-mandate, serving also as the Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman at Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, which operates high profile schemes in sectors including rail, retail, construction and licensing.

Kevin is on the Board of Directors at the Ombudsman Association; a professional body that advises government and helps to oversee the ombudsman and complaint handling landscape in the UK, Ireland, British Overseas Territories and British Crown Dependencies. He is also a non-executive director and trustee at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Kevin has a keen interest in consumer affairs and has appeared several times on television, radio and in the press to provide expert opinion on a range of issues that affect consumers. He has a specialist understanding of consumer law and has written and presented a series of accredited courses and seminars in this field. He is the co-author of Volume 28 of Atkin's Court Forms and Precedents on Ombudsman schemes in England and Wales. Published by LexisNexis in 2020, it forms part of the UK’s only encyclopaedia of civil litigation forms, precedents and procedure and is a leading authority on the process that should be followed by complainants.
 
 
MR ALAN WATSON CBE
Deputy Ombudsman

Mr Alan Watson CBE was also an IFC Commissioner throughout the life of the IFC, serving as Vice-Chairman during its later stages. He was a senior civil servant and has a wealth of experience in complaints resolution. He was Deputy Parliamentary Commissioner, responsible for investigating complaints against government departments. Alan is a qualified and still active football referee. He is an avid Newcastle United fan and travels long distances from his home in the south to watch his beloved black and whites.

 
 
The Advisory Panel…

The IFO Advisory Panel comprises members with a broad range of experience, on which the IFO can draw in particular cases. Expertise may include legal and financial issues; governance and compliance; stadium operations; communications; supporter relations and community initiatives; and complaint handling within ADR procedures.

The current members of the Advisory Panel are:

 
GRAHAM COURTNEY

Graham Courtney is a former Press Officer at Newcastle United and Chief Operating Officer for the Independent Football Commission. He is continuing his journalistic activity as a radio reporter for TalkSPORT.

 
PHIL GOLDSTONE

Phil Goldstone has had a successful career in international business sales and is a lifelong Manchester City supporter and season ticket holder. He also watches Oldham Athletic, whose history he is writing for his PhD.

 
TOM WOODHOUSE

Tom Woodhouse is Emeritus Professor at Bradford University where he has lectured, researched and written on sport and conflict resolution. He has special interests in the community links with football clubs and is doing research on the work of football in the community foundations.

 
ELA MISTRY-JACKSON

Ela Mistry-Jackson is programme leader for social work at the University of Bradford and has experience of diversity and equality within various sectors. She has been an assessor for the Premier League, evaluating clubs seeking their Equality Standard.

 
GILLIAN FLEMING

Gillian Fleming has extensive experience of ADR and Ombudsman schemes across higher education, property professionals, health and local government, including safeguarding. She has reviewed complaints about the Disclosure and Barring Service and undertaken complaint reviews in other sectors. She has regulatory roles and has past and current experience as a Non-Executive Director.

 
SUSAN WATSON

Susan Watson has had significant experience of safety management and was involved in the 2012 London Olympic Games. She runs a successful safety training company and is currently the Safety Officer at Leeds United.

 
MARK JAMES

Mark James is Professor of Sports Law at Manchester Metropolitan University and Head of Research at Manchester Law School, where he teaches Sports Law to undergraduate and Masters students in the Law and Business Schools. He has written extensively on how the law applies to football fans, sports stadiums and ticketing and is the author of the textbook, Sports Law.

 
JUDITH TURNER, LL.B, MCIArb, Solicitor

Judith read Law at King’s College London for 3-years before graduating with honours in 1998, qualifying as a solicitor in 2001.

Judith is the Deputy Chief Ombudsman for a national Ombudsman scheme that operates in high profile sectors including rail, retail and home improvement. Specialising in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and consumer law, Judith leads on compliance with The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes Regulations 2015 within her own organisation and helps to advise other bodies, including the IFO, as to their application, exemplifying and advising on best practice in this area.

Judith has written and presented a wide variety of accredited training courses on Consumer Law and Compliance and is a regular speaker on these matters, appearing regularly in trade and mainstream press and radio providing insight into many areas that affect consumer dispute resolution. Judith is the current Chair of the Ombudsman Association Policy Network and serves as a member of the Civil Justice Council’s ADR Liaison Panel. She has written extensively on ADR and consumer issues and is the co-author of the Ombudsman content for Atkins Court Forms.

She is a lifelong football fan and supports Barnsley FC.

 
Publications
Thirteenth Annual Report
More>
Complaints procedure
 
 
Contact
Telephone
0330 165 4223
For email & our postal
address click below
 
 
 
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