Juan Pablo Montoya may decide to enforce an European Commission ruling introduced for soccer purposes if he is refused permission to leave Williams and join McLaren for next season, according to the German press.

Reports in Autobild magazine suggest that the Colombian could attempt to use a version of the infamous 'Bosman Law' to jump ship and join McLaren for 2004, despite the Woking team having already announced that it would be fielding an unchanged line-up next year. Paddock rumour strongly suggests that David Coulthard has only been retained on a one-year deal because Montoya is tied to Williams and BMW for another season, but the German title insists that all may not be as clear cut as it seems.

The Colombian is apparently afraid that, with all the speculation that he is to join McLaren for 2005, he will not benefit from the same technological advantages as team-mate Ralf Schumacher next season, as the team and its suppliers fear that their innovations could be used against them in the future. Therefore, according to the reports, Montoya's manager, Julian Jakobi, could consider taking action against WilliamsF1 bosses Frank Williams and Patrick Head, based on the ruling that caused a revolution - and turmoil - in European football in the late 1980s.

The Bosman case came about after Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman felt that he was being prevented from leaving his current club in order to join another as a result of the restrictive 'transfer' rules. With neither then employer Liege or proposed new destination Dunkerque willing to back down over the issue of a transfer fee, Bosman took his case to the European Union, claiming that, as an EU citizen and according to Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome, he should be able to enjoy 'freedom of movement' within the EU in order to find work.

The Belgian claimed that the transfer system as it stood was preventing him from exercising his right and argued that the system should be changed so that players who were out of contract with their club could move to another without the need for a transfer fee. He won his case, and the ruling has since been extended to several non-EU states that had agreements with the Union.

How this would enable Montoya to join McLaren a year ahead of expectation remains to be seen, primarily because the Colombian - while not being an EU citizen - also has a year to run on his Williams contract, thereby not rendering him 'out of contract' and able to benefit from the Bosman Law. However, Jakobi could argue the case along similar lines - and could set a precedent that may shape the face of F1 line-ups for years to come.

 

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