The Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO) is the final stage in the complaints process established by the English professional Football Authorities (The Football Association –FA -, The Premier League and The Football League). The IFO comprises an Ombudsman, his Deputy and an Advisory Panel. This section explains the role of the IFO. Further information and guidance are available in a short leaflet which may be requested, using any of the contact addresses given below.
1. Procedures in general
The IFO believes that the following principles should inform complaints procedures in general:-
• It should be clear how complainants can register complaints and who will deal with them.
• Complaints should be dealt with quickly and effectively. Where a complaint is upheld an apology should be issued and consideration should be given as to whether any other form of redress is appropriate.
• Those dealing with complaints should be well trained and motivated with a clear understanding that effective complaints resolution improves relationships with customers.
• The system should make clear what options are open to the complainant if he or she remains dissatisfied with the response to their complaint.
2. The IFO within Football’s complaints process
The IFO is the final stage on complaints involving customer issues. An individual, a group of individuals or an organisation who feels aggrieved at the service received from a provider should, in the first instance, take that complaint to the provider. That will usually be the football club which provided the service, but it could be one of the Football Authorities if they were responsible for the service (for example, the FA in the case of England matches).
Each club and each Authority has a customer charter which should explain how a complaint can be registered and how it will be dealt with. If the service complained of rests with a club and it fails to satisfy the complainant, then the complainant can revert to the appropriate Football Authority (for example, to the Premier League if a Premier League club is the subject of the complaint). If, thereafter, the complainant remains dissatisfied, he or she can appeal to the IFO. In addition, if the relevant Football Authority has not responded substantively to a complaint within six weeks of receiving it, the Authority will either refer the matter to the IFO for consideration or will explain to the IFO why further time is required to deal with the matter.
Where the IFO receives a complaint prematurely, ie where it has not gone through the earlier stages described above, the IFO will refer such complaints to the relevant body for consideration.
The IFO cannot consider any matter which is the subject of legal or appellate action.
3. How to complain to the IFO
Complaints should be made in writing and submitted by post or by email to the contact addresses stated under ‘Contact Us’. They should be supported by any documentary evidence available, including evidence generated from earlier stages of the complaints process. If the IFO decides that the complaint is appropriate for further investigation, the IFO and the Deputy IFO, or one of them in conjunction with a member of the IFO’s Advisory Panel, will consider the matter. The IFO will adopt procedures as seem appropriate to the complaint. The IFO will seek information from the football bodies concerned and may ask the complainant for oral evidence where that is deemed appropriate. If that evidence is sought by interview, the complainant may ask a friend or representative to attend. The IFO may visit a club or other service provider to investigate the matter, where this is judged necessary for the IFO to complete the adjudication.
4. The outcome
After considering all the evidence the IFO will issue an adjudication in writing to the complainant and to the appropriate Football Authority. A summary of the adjudication will be placed on this site under ‘Adjudications’ and on the website of the relevant Authority. If the complaint is upheld, the IFO will make any recommendations deemed appropriate. If the Football Authority considers that it cannot – for whatever reason – implement any recommendation of the IFO, it will publish the reasoning behind such a decision and any proposed alternative resolution to the complaint. The IFO will produce an annual report to the Minister for Sport and the Football Authorities, reviewing all the complaints received, the action taken and any wider issues arising from the work of the IFO. This annual report will be publicly available.
Within football’s complaints process there is no right of appeal against an adjudication of
5. Contacting the IFO
Those wishing to contact the IFO to register a complaint or an issue of concern should use the mode and address most convenient to them. Please refer to the ‘Contact Us’ section.