Geoff Pearson

Geoff Pearson


  • Professor of Law, Law
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Personal profile


Geoff is Professor of Law in the Law Department, School of Social Sciences, and Academic Director of the N8 Policing Research Partnership.

He graduated with an LL.B from the University of Lancaster in 1995 before going on to complete a PhD titled 'Legal Responses to Football Crowd Disorder' at the same institution under the supervision of Prof Michael Salter. He was awarded his doctorate in 1999 (externals Prof Andrew Sanders and Prof Steve Redhead) in 1999 and became Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool (first at the Football Research Unit and then the Management School). He was Director of Studies for the MBA (Football Industries) programme (FiMBA) (2003-2014).

Geoff joined the University of Manchester Law School in 2015 as a Senior Lecturer in Criminal Law and he acted as Programme Director for the LLB Law with Criminology Programme 2016-2020. In 2020 he took over as Academic Director of the N8PRP and was appointed Professor of Law.

Research interests

Legal and Policing Responses to Football Crowd Violence and Disorder and 'Hooliganism'

Utilising an ethnographic methodology, including covert participant observation (1995-2011), Geoff has studied the impact of legislation and policing strategies and tactics upon levels of football-related violence and disorder and upon the human rights of football fans since the mid 1990s. Particular focus has been on legislation, Football Banning Orders, human rights, and best practice when policing English football fans. He has worked with and advised the UK Home Office, the OSCE, the Law Commission, FIFA, UEFA, the English Football League, the FSA, the Baroness Casey Review, and numerous police forces. He is author of four books in this area, 'Football Hooliganism' (2007, with Clifford Stott), An Ethnography of English Football Fans (2012), 'Legal Responses to Football Hooliganism in Europe' (2017, co-edited with Peter Coenen and Anastassia Tsoukala), and A New Agenda for Football Crowd Management (Forthcoming 2022 with Clifford Stott).

Police Powers

In 2013-2019, Geoff conducted a longitudinal ethnographic study with frontline police officers in two forces in the north of England, investigating the use of police 'street powers' (including vehicle stop checks, stop and search, and arrest), police discretion, regulation and the law. In 2020, he co-authored 'Police Street Powers and Criminal Justice: Regulation and Discretion in a Time of Change' (Hart, with Mike Rowe).


In 2005, along with Matthew Brannan, Jason Ferdinand, Mike Rowe and Frank Worthington, Geoff established the annual Ethnography Symposium ( He is on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Organisational Ethnography and has published on the ethics of covert participant observation. In 2012 he published 'An Ethnography of English Football Fans: Cans, Cops and Carnivals' (MUP).

Football Player Labour Conditions and European Union Law

Geoff has carried out research investigating the legality of football transfer and quota systems under EU Free Movement and Competition Law and worked with the European Commission assessing the UEFA Homegrown Player Rule. 2016-2017 he was principal investigator for two FIFPro-funded project looking at the labour conditions of professional football players worldwide.

Most publications can be downloaded at:

Other teaching information

LAWS10082 Criminal Law (Criminology)

LAWS30082 Criminal Evidence

LAWS31082 Sport and the Law


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Areas of expertise

  • K Law (General)
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Evidence
  • Human Rights
  • Sports Law
  • Football
  • Crowd Management
  • Hooliganism
  • Policing
  • Police


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