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
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.
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.
JUDITH TURNER, LL.B, MCIArb, Solicitor
Deputy Chief Ombudsman
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.
Tom joined the IFO in 2023 having worked for various Ombudsman schemes since 2018. He is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and studied law at university. As a lifelong football supporter he enjoys football at all levels. Tom is the Editor-in-Chief of a printed Watford FC fanzine.
Supporter and Club Liaison
Sarah joined the Independent Football Ombudsman in 2022 as Head of Contact. Sarah has worked for various Ombudsman schemes since January 2018 gaining a BTEC level 5 in investigation & complaints handling and City & Guilds in Consumer Law and Customer service. Sarah has been involved in football from an early age as her dad managed teams at grassroots level and brother played for the County. Sarah is a lifelong Arsenal supporter.
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:
MR ALAN WATSON CBE
Mr Alan Watson CBE was an IFC Commissioner throughout the life of the IFC, serving as Vice-Chairman during its later stages. He served as the Deputy Chief Ombudsman for over a decade before retiring in 2023. 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.
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.
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.