Gareth Farrelly: From the Premier League to law

In 2008 I had a pancreatic aneurism, which pretty much ended my footballing career.

I was incredibly lucky as there is a very high mortality rate. Usually by the time people find out what the problem is it is too late. Whereas I was very lucky as it hadn’t ruptured completely; the doctors were amazing.

Transitioning to studying law after playing football was difficult – I thought I would be handed a colouring book and a box of crayons but they didn’t really materialise.

But, seriously, I had been out of education for 16 years so there was a huge difference day-to-day.

I was lucky that I was interested law. I had made professional mistakes in my twenties and ended up having a lot of dealings with lawyers.

It is a different language and a different world and I wanted to develop an understanding and knowledge of it.

During my football career, I had a case that we ended up taking all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. I was player-manager of [Irish club] Bohemian FC and then signed to play for Blackpool on a short-term contract. I was then offered a contract with Cork City.  

FIFA then denied me permission to play because of its three-club rule. Carlos Tévez is a high profile example of that – he had a similar situation when he came to the UK. The argument we had with that is that the Irish and UK seasons ran at different times and we contested the decision but lost. It was a huge learning experience – law touches every area of life.

I am currently sitting in my firm’s sports and commercial law team. Cassell Moore has a partnership with a Spanish sports management agency called Boss UK. It looks after around 80 La Liga players and feeds into the practice.

I have no aspirations to run my own practice but I want to qualify and become good at something again. After 16 years it is hard to make a transition. I want to stay where I am, hopefully within sports law or commercial litigation.  

Gareth Farrelly is a trainee at Liverpool firm Cassell Moore and an ex-Premier League footballer with Aston Villa, Everton and Bolton Wanderers.