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 service comprises the Ombudsman (Professor Derek Fraser), his deputy (Mr Alan Watson) and an Advisory Panel.

The Ombudsman and Deputy comprise the ADR officials who handle all complaints. The ADR officials are appointed by the three football authorities on an annual basis. Professor Fraser and Mr Watson were originally appointed following a public advertisement.


Professor Derek Fraser was for the whole if its existence the Chairman of the IFC, having been appointed in August 2001 and implementing its closure in June 2008. He has been watching football since the late 1940s and he supports his hometown club, Birmingham City. His best football moment was being at Wembley to see England win the World Cup in 1966. Derek is best known as a historian for his writing on the history  of the Welfare State. He is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Teesside, where he served as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive from 1992 to 2003.

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 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 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 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.


Kevin Grix, a qualified lawyer, is the Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman at Dispute Resolution Ombudsman Limited (which operates The Furniture Ombudsman) and since November 2018 has operated the newly established Rail Ombudsman. He sits on the Executive Committee of the Ombudsman Association and is vastly experienced in dealing with consumer disputes and their resolution.


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 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 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 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.

Twelfth Annual Report
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