Project Red Card: privacy concerns for the Premier League

Over 850 professional football players from mid-tier and premier league clubs are seeking compensation from the data collection industry over the unconsented use of up to six years' worth of performance data, in a legal action referred to as Project Red Card.

For over a decade, a variety of individuals and businesses including team scouts, video game developers and betting companies have processed the personal data of professional athletes. The personal data in question comes from over 5,000 data points and includes details of passing accuracy, fitness and speed. Project Red Card now seeks to provide such athletes with the right to extract a greater share of the revenues generated from the exploitation of this data.

The footballers are arguing that their personal data is being exploited for financial gain without their consent. The group, led by former Leyton Orient and Cardiff City manager Russell Slade, have issued 17 letters before action to a selection of major betting, entertainment, and data collection firms alleging data misuse.

If it is established that the organisations are processing personal data without a valid legal basis (such as consent or legitimate interest), then the footballers will be entitled to claim compensation for their financial loss or distress because of the breach of data protection law. Issues may arise for the footballers when trying to establish loss, particularly given that the personal data in question is often publicly available. Hopefully this case will be able to distinguish between what counts as private personal data and what is a publicly available fact.