Maurice Watkins (solicitor)

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Maurice Watkins LLB, LLM is the current chairman of the Super League and League One football club Barnsley. He has represented high profile clients in criminal trials including Eric Cantona and Stuart Hall.

He is formerly a Director of Manchester United's football board. He is also the former club's solicitor. He is also Joint Senior Partner of Brabners Chaffe Street LLP Solicitors in Manchester.

Personal life[edit]

Watkins was educated at Manchester Grammar School and University College London.

High profile legal work[edit]

At a January 1995 match with Crystal Palace Eric Cantona performed a 'kung fu' kick into the crowd following racist abuse from Matthew Simmons. Watkins represented Cantona at the ensuing assault trial.[1] Watkins represented former BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall at Hall's trial for indecent assault, at which Hall admitted to indecently assaulting 13 girls.[2] Watkins' effective representation lead to Hall receiving a jail sentence of 15 months for the charges.[3]


  • Director of the British Association for Sport and Law (Former President & Chairman)
  • Member of the FA Premier League Legal Advisory Group
  • FA Premier League representative on the Association of European Union Premier Professional Leagues (EPFL)
  • Member of Working Group for Financial Matters of the FIFA Task Force "For the Good of the Game"
  • Non-Executive Director for the Rugby Football League
  • Interim Chairman for the Rugby Football League
  • Regional Chairman for Coutts Bank
  • Trustee of the Professional Footballers Pension Scheme
  • Chairman of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Charity
  • Chair of Governors at the Manchester Grammar School
  • Chairman of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain
  • Chairman of Barnsley Football Club
  • Chairman of British Swimming[4]

English Premier Football[edit]

Martin Edwards asked Watkins to became a director of Manchester United Football Club in May 1984 on the same day as Bobby Charlton. In 1991, when Martin Edwards floated Manchester United on the stock exchange, Watkins joined the PLC Board as a non-executive director. Edwards and Watkins were the only two directors who served both on the Football Board and the PLC Board. At the AGM in 2005 Malcolm Glazer opposed Watkins' re-election to the PLC board along with two other directors Philip Yea a fellow non-executive director and Andy Anson. After Malcolm Glazer had completed his takeover of Manchester United he de-listed it from the stock exchanged and made it a private company once again. Watkins remains on the club's football board and is the club's lawyer.

Watkins has overseen numerous high profile football transfers both at home in the United Kingdom and abroad. He has also represented clubs and players before FIFA, UEFA, the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League disciplinary bodies. Also he has represented players and clubs at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and international and league compensation tribunals. He has worked with the South Africa and Nigerian Premier leagues in respect of broadcasting and regulatory matters as well as the Egyptian Sports Council and UAE footballing authorities.

Watkins regularly speaks on football and sports law issues within the United Kingdom and internationally. He has represented both the Football Association and the Premier League at conferences in Egypt, France, Qatar, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Trinidad and Tobago and Japan.

In 2012 Watkins was named interim Rugby Football League Chairman when Richard Lewis' moved on.[5]

On 29 June 2012, Watkins stepped down from the board of Manchester United Football Club Ltd after 28 years with the club.[6] On 30 May 2013 it was announced that Watkins would become chairman of Championship football club Barnsley.[7]

Charitable support[edit]

Watkins is involved with several causes. Previous roles have included Chairman of the New Children's Hospital Appeal. With his leadership the appeal successfully raised £20 million to provide beds for parents on wards and additional and up-to-date equipment at the new state-of-the-art Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.


  1. ^ "Watkins' view: Selhurst saga". (Manchester United). 1 December 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Stuart Hall pushed me up against a wall and tried to force himself on me: It's A Knockout cheerleader recounts horrific moment BBC veteran sexually assaulted her". Daily Mail (Daily Mail). 2 May 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Stuart Hall jailed for 15 months for sex assaults". BBC (BBC). 17 June 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "British Swimming name Maurice Watkins as their new Chairman". BBC. 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04. 
  5. ^ "Past RFL Presidents". Rugby Football League. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Director leaves United board". (Manchester United). 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Maurice Watkins CBE steps back into football to become chairman of Barnsley Football Club". (Barnsley FC). 30 May 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 

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