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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Sport > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Sport
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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The ‘high-calibre’ full-service practice at Bird & Bird LLP is well known for its ‘market-leading’ commercial and contentious capabilities, its ‘in-depth industry knowledge’ and its very strong regulatory experience. It also stands out for its ‘unambiguous, practical advice that is easy to understand and follow’. Group head Jonathan Taylor, who has experience in high-profile arbitration and regulatory work across a variety of sports, is noted for his ‘approachability and preparedness’. He represented the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in proceedings brought against Maria Sharapova following her positive test for meldonium, and advised the International Paralympic Committee on its decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee’s membership after it failed to meet its anti-doping obligations. Craig Giles, who has ‘excellent broadcasting industry knowledge’, made partner in May 2017; he assisted the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the Football Association (FA) and Six Nations Rugby with media rights negotiations with various high-profile broadcasters. Max Duthie, who along with Taylor is ‘exceptionally good’, advised the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on the ongoing effects of the disciplinary proceedings brought by trainer Jim Best, who successfully appealed his four-year suspension. Felicity Reeve, who acted for the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Chelsea Football Club on various contractual and commercial matters, is also recommended, as are of counsel Huw Roberts, barrister Elizabeth Riley and senior associate Robert Turner. Commercial and media expert Andrew Danson joined from K&L Gates LLP in May 2017; he has particular experience in the gambling and gaming sectors.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s team has excellent strength in depth and ‘significant market presence’. It has core strengths acting for governing bodies and handling corporate and commercial mandates, but also assists with private client and family work for high-profile athletes. Jonathan Ellis, who jointly heads the practice with Ian Lynam, advised the Independent Review Panel – a commission set up by various global tennis governing bodies, including the ATP, Tennis Australia and the French Tennis Federation – on its review of integrity in tennis, following high-profile media allegations of match-fixing. Indeed, Ellis has a strong line in investigations: he acted for the FA throughout the Hillsborough Inquests. The practice also has strong contentious capabilities: James Eighteen, who made partner in May 2016, defended the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) against the appeals brought against it by three individuals who were handed lifetime bans from athletics for having allegedly extorted money from Lilya Shobukhova for covering up her failed doping tests. Following a successful tender, Eighteen is advising the BHA on redrafting its Rules of Racing manual, and he and Jason Saiban are acting for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain on all its contentious, regulatory and disciplinary matters. On the corporate and commercial side, Lynam and Saiban are handling various sports-related contracts for Nike, including its 15-year kit deal with Chelsea FC, and Lynam acted for Farhad Moshiri on his acquisition of a 49.9% stake in Everton FC. Other clients include Paddy Power Betfair, Premiership Rugby and Cesc Fabregas. Litigator and regulatory equestrian specialist Edward Craig, commercial and regulatory expert Jon Walters, corporate partner Keir Gordon and employment expert Michael Powner are also recommended.

Sports boutique Couchmans LLP fields an impressive sports and media-dedicated team, led by commercial and IP expert Nic Couchman. The team is active in numerous sports, from football and tennis to mixed martial arts, yoga and mass participation events. Jody MacDonald, who counts data, IT and digital matters as core strengths, advised the Association of European Professional Football Leagues on various official sports data partnership deals, and acted for the ITF on the exploitation of its sports data. On the corporate and commercial side, Satish Khandke assisted CSM Active with the creation of a new mass-participation sports company, and advised Ascot Racecourse on its shareholder rights and obligations as well as on its proposed new commercial ventures. Sports IP is a significant strength; Couchman and Nick White advise numerous high-profile clients such as Mo Farah and Gareth Bale on trade mark and branding matters. The duo acted for Anthony Joshua on his personal endorsement agreements with Beats by Dre, Lucozade and Lynx; assisted Brighton & Hove Albion FC with advertising sales agency agreements and e-commerce matters; and advised Lagardère Unlimited on its sponsorship of the ITU World Triathlon Series. Other areas of expertise include sporting integrity issues, sports events, e-gaming and talent representation. Steven Burton moved to an in-house position with Genius Sports in August 2016. Daniel Lowen and Fraser Reid left to establish sports media boutique Level Law.

Brabners LLP’s ‘very responsive and knowledgeable’ team is ‘excellent value for money’, and has impressive strength in depth. Key areas of expertise include handling commercial agreements, employment issues, governance matters, media rights and providing strategic advice to high-profile clients; it is also increasingly active in defamation. ‘Empathetic, responsive and highly capable’ practice head Lydia Edgar, who is particularly experienced in employment and human resources, advised Basketball England on various commercial, governance, employment and financial regulatory matters. Commercial expert Jason Smith advised Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) on its cooperation with Olympic Channel Services, a global multi-platform entity aiming to promote the Olympics and its values; the collaboration involves future broadcast and distribution agreements, inter alia. Colin Bell acted for Chester Race Company on its five-year commercial agreement with Premier Gateway International to provide wagering services at the Chester and Bangor-on-Dee racecourses. Litigation head Paul Lunt handled various non-contentious matters for International Sport Management, including assisting with the staging of an Arena Golf event at Wembley Stadium (which involved sponsorship and trade mark agreements), and advising on various image rights and merchandising deals involving high-profile sportsmen such as Darren Clarke and Michael Vaughan. Commercial litigator Phil Steele, who made partner in October 2016, advised one EFL Championship team on The Telegraph’s investigation into corruption in football; he is also an active arbitrator. Simon Taylor, who has particular experience in motorsports, joined from Kennedys in April 2017. Senior partner Maurice Watkins is widely recommended for his longstanding experience, especially in football.

Sports boutique Centrefield LLP has strong contentious and non-contentious capabilities, and experience across a wide range of sports, though it is best known for its football work: it counts more than half of the Premier League clubs as clients. Edward Canty, David Bentham and Stuart Baird assist the Professional Footballers’ Association with corporate, commercial, employment, charity and defamation work, as well as representing it in litigation. On the commercial side, Bentham acted for Leicester Tigers on its new sponsorship agreement with Holland & Barrett, and advised on the renewals of existing deals with sponsors. In another high-profile matter, Bentham acted for the Rugby Players’ Association on the RFU’s new Elite Player Squad agreement, covering the terms on which rugby players play for England at senior, second-team and under-20 levels. On the transactional side, the practice acted on over £400m-worth of football player transfers during the 2016 summer transfer window. Canty assisted various high-profile sportspeople with obtaining financial compensation and formal apologies from News Group Newspapers and Mirror Group Newspapers following the media group’s breach of the clients’ privacy and confidence. Football expert Matthew Bennett, who has experience in regulatory, governance, disciplinary and litigation work, is also recommended. Baird made partner in January 2017.

DLA Piper’s practice is best known for international media rights work for sports industry clients, but also has notable expertise in commercial partnerships and stadium finance. Practice head Nick Fitzpatrick and IP specialist John Wilks, acted for beIN Sports on the infringement of its copyright and the breach of its exclusive rights to broadcast live sports events. This involved actions against infringers in various territories, including Germany, Iran, Qatar and the US as well as the UK. On the sponsorship side, Fitzpatrick assisted the Badminton World Federation (BWF) with appointing Infront Sports & Media as sales service provider for media and sponsorship rights regarding the BWF tournaments to be held between 2017 and 2025; advised Hamad International Airport on new sponsorship agreements with FC Bayern Munich; and assisted Unicef with its agreement with ITV and Endemol regarding the organisation and promotion of the Soccer Aid charity football match. On the regulatory side, Fitzpatrick advised the BHA on its funding arrangements and on its Authorised Betting Partners scheme; the firm also assists the NBA with regulatory issues. The department has a strong presence in the corporate and finance space: development finance expert Paul Gray acted for Stadio TDV on the €30m financing of various pre-development costs of the Stadio della Roma project. Other clients include the RFU, ESPN and the Football League. John Cloke, who advises sports clients on commercial, copyright and regulatory issues, is an expert in digital distribution. Patrick Mitchell, who assists clients with media rights transactions, sponsorship and sporting events, made partner in May 2017.

Governance, integrity and safeguarding are the core strengths of Farrer & Co’s department, making it well placed to handle the recent changes to UK Sport’s new Code for Sports Governance. It is a popular choice for governing bodies. Litigator Julian Pike heads the practice. Commercial litigator Kate Allass defended the International Canoe Federation in appeal proceedings in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) relating to the allocation of athlete quotas for Rio 2016. Henry Sainty, a data protection expert who handles complex commercial contracts for sports rights holders, acted for UK Athletics on the staging of the IAAF World Athletics Championships and IPC World ParaAthletics Championships. Other clients include the Lawn Tennis Association, PGA European Tour and England Boxing. Litigator and reputation management expert Michael Patrick made partner in May 2016.

The full-service department at Harbottle & Lewis LLP has longstanding corporate, commercial, regulatory and brand management experience in a wide range of sports. Practice head Bob Mitchell acted for Virgin Media on its three-year shirt sponsorship agreement with Southampton FC, constituting the client’s first entry into the Premier League football shirt sponsorship market. He also assisted Tyson Fury and his promoter, Hennessy Sports, with handling various high-profile media stories concerning Fury, and with Fury’s vacation of his world titles in October 2016. The Team England Player Partnership is another of Mitchell’s clients. Senior associate Michael Lister advised Nissan on its brand ambassador deals with athletes including Sergio Agüero and Gareth Bale, in support of its UEFA Champions’ League sponsorship. Lister also acted for Team Secret on its relocation to the UK, as well as handling player contracts, sponsorships, investment arrangements, brand management and the client’s expansion into the US. Sports marketing specialist Andy Korman, who joined from Couchmans LLP in June 2016, acted for Betway on the extension of its principal partner deal with West Ham United FC, and advised Trackstars on all commercial contract matters for Sir Chris Hoy, including an ambassadorial contract with British Cycling and its new lead partner, HSBC. Louis Castellani is active in sports litigation, and consultant Dalton Odendaal is recommended for sporting events.

Lewis Silkin LLP’s practice counts commercial work, reputation management, IP, football finance, and employment and immigration as core areas of expertise. Managing associate Alex Kelham, who specialises in sports marketing, IP and brand protection, heads the group. Together with IP and commercial expert Jeremy Summers, Kelham advised longstanding client Ascot Racecourse on various sponsorship agreements, including with BGC Partners and Betfair, and on an agreement regarding the operation of the Ascot Express train service. The team also represented the client in infringement proceedings. On the events side, Summers and Kelham assisted Kinetik and Roborace with setting up the Roborace – the world’s first self-driving car racing championship. Kelham also advised Madison Sports Group on a wide range of matters, including its agreements with the professional cyclists competing in its pan-European five-event series, as well as drafting the series’ new regulations and advising on IP, employment and tax issues. In the football finance space, Karish Andrews acted for Quality Football Funds, as investors in several leading European clubs, on their negotiations with the clubs following footballer transfers and associated investment exits. Leonard Goodrich and consultant Paul Winter advised Fulham FC on the expansion of the riverside stand at its ground, Craven Cottage. Sports immigration expert Andrew Osborne and regulatory and contentious employment associates Richard Berry and Chris Smith are also recommended.

Football, motorsport, cycling, boxing and equestrian sports are the core strengths of Mishcon de Reya LLP’s practice, which has excellent regulatory, commercial, litigation and arbitration capabilities. Football and boxing expert Liz Ellen, who is also noted for her knowledge of the Chinese sports market, leads the team; she advised sports promotion business Matchroom Sport on the heavyweight world title clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley stadium. She also represented Sunderland AFC in a €24m dispute with an Italian football club that has gone before FIFA and the CAS. The practice advised Tottenham Hotspur FC on various real estate issues arising from the White Hart Lane redevelopment, and on sponsorship agreements with William Hill, EZTrader and Kumho Tyres. Arbitrator Kendrah Potts has strong regulatory and disciplinary experience, especially in match-fixing and anti-doping; legal director Peter Nunn is a motorsport expert. Immigration specialist Maria Patsalos and commercial and IP partner Lewis Cohen are also recommended.

Sports boutique Onside Law Limited is well known for acting for rights holders and governing bodies in numerous sports, and is increasingly visible on the regulatory side, especially in sporting integrity matters. Dispute resolution and regulatory specialist Chris Walsh advised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on its various governance and constitutional reforms, including at ECB and International Cricket Council level, and on the broadcast tender bid process for all ECB domestic and international media rights for 2020-24, worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Golf and football expert Oliver Hunt advised the PGA European Tour on all legal aspects of its various high-profile events, including the DP World Tour Championship, the Hong Kong Open and the Open de France. Senior associate Ross Brown advised the ITF’s Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) on five prosecutions for breaches of the tennis anti-corruption programme, including defending the TIU against two players appealing bans before the CAS. Jamie Singer advised World Rugby on all its commercial contracts and on IP and regulatory matters, as well as representing it in dispute resolution. Adam Leadercramer advised Ladbrokes on its sponsorship of the FA Cup and the England football team. Corporate and commercial experts Jamie Goldberg and Simon Thorp and litigator and arbitrator Stevie Loughrey are also recommended.

Providing nationwide strength in depth, Pinsent Masons LLP’s London office is particularly strong in transactional, commercial and real estate sports work, often with significant cross-border elements; disputes and regulatory work are to a large extent handled by the Manchester and Leeds offices. ‘Peerless’ group head Trevor Watkins is ‘strategic, pragmatic and solution-oriented’; his ‘unmatched global network of contacts and unrivalled sports knowledge make him a go-to partner’. Watkins and senior associate Julian Moore, advised longstanding client the Jockey Club on its commercial rights management and on sponsorship deals, such as its Grand National sponsorship arrangement with Randox. An expert in global sports investment, Watkins also acted for US private equity firm JMI Equity on its attempted acquisition of a Championship football club. On the events side, Watkins advised UK Sport – on behalf of joint bidders Welcome to Yorkshire, British Cycling and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport – on its successful bid to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, making it the first time in 37 years that the UK has hosted the event. Competition specialist Angelique Bret is very active in the space, as are Manchester-based partners Julian Diaz-Rainey, who is strong in disputes and regulatory work, and Samantha Livesey, an IP, IT and commercial rights specialist. The practice also handles stadium finance and complex tax issues. Football finance and commercial expert James Earl joined Fladgate LLP in 2016 to head the firm’s sports practice.

Corporate, commercial and M&A work, especially involving football clubs and media rights, is what Squire Patton Boggs’s department is best known for; it also has strong regulatory capabilities, and notable experience in IP, employment, restructuring and dispute resolution. Contentious and regulatory expert Stephen Sampson and senior associate Tim Lowles – who is a commercial litigator noted for his experience in IP and reputation management – acted for the ITF on the disciplinary charges brought against ITF officials accused of corruption. Senior associate Alastair Purssell advised the same client on various international commercial matters, including its development centre funding agreements and its licence agreements for the Hopman Cup. Sampson also represented new client Saudi Arabian Football Federation in its appeal against a FIFA decision to alter the location of home and away matches against the Iraqi national team. On the corporate side, M&A expert David Hull acted for Steve Morgan and Bridgemere Investments on their £43m sale of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to Fosun International. Governance is another area of strength: Stuart McInnes and senior associate Emma Mason, a governance expert, advised World Sailing on various matters connected to the election of presidents and vice-presidents. McInnes stands out for his experience as a CAS arbitrator in particular. Commercial specialist and senior associate Alastair Purssell is also recommended; his clients include Chelsea FC. La Fédération Internationale de Ski is a new client win.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s team is active in a wide range of areas; sports finance, dispute resolution and corporate and commercial transactions are particular strengths. Group head Graham Shear and restructuring expert Marc Trottier advised Rights and Media Funding on receivables financing work involving Premier League football clubs such as Everton FC and West Ham United FC, as well as European clubs including RCD Espanyol and Málaga CF. Other clients include Tottenham Hotspur FC, Nike and the FA. Marcus Pearl is recommended for IP and technology transactional and commercial work, and commercial dispute resolution expert Joby Davies has longstanding experience in representing high-profile sportspeople in defamation and breach of privacy cases.

With its absorption of Olswang, CMS significantly strengthened its sports practice in 2017, bolstering its broadcast and media rights capabilities in particular. Group head David Zeffman, who has decades of experience in sport and gambling matters, acted for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain on the submission of its concerns to the Competition and Markets Authority regarding Ladbrokes’ merger with Gala Coral. Commercial partner Victoria Gaskell assisted Chelsea FC with restructuring the contractual arrangements concerning the global implementation of its TV channel Chelsea TV’s programme block and online service. Corporate expert Nick Crosbie advised IMG Media on its acquisition of Livestream’s streaming exchange platform business and assets. Other clients include UEFA and the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Of counsel Anna Soilleux-Mills is an expert in gambling matters.

Covington & Burling LLP is also ranked.

Active across a wide range of sports, Dentons’ practice is noted for its cross-border capabilities and its strength in corporate, commercial and financial work. Managing associate Alex Haffner, who is a competition law expert, advised Bestseller and Kevin Magnussen on a driver and sponsorship agreement with the Renault Formula One team, under which Magnussen became one of Renault’s two main drivers for the 2016 season. Haffner also acted for the ECB on all its domestic and international broadcasting arrangements, including broadcasting agreements with SuperSport for sub-Saharan Africa and Fox Sports for Australia. On the contentious side, the Milton Keynes-based James Fairbairn represented Qingdao Jonoon FC in bringing various employment-related appeals of FIFA decisions before the CAS. beIN Sports is also a client. M&A and finance expert Richard Barham heads the group and commercial consultant Adrian Barr-Smith is noted for his sector expertise

Fieldfisher welcomed media and entertainment expert Tom Guida from Loeb & Loeb LLP’s New York office; he brought various US contacts with him, strengthening the department’s cross-border capabilities. Advertising, sponsorship and endorsement are key pillars of the practice, which also has experience in sports finance and high-profile regulatory investigations, including the Hillsborough Inquests. Associate Debbie Nicholson was appointed by the RFU as a safeguarding specialist on its disciplinary panel. Other clients include the IAAF, Sport England, Adidas and London Sport. Director Marsili Hale, who has experience in refinancing sports teams, joined from LCN Legal in October 2016. Property finance and corporate finance expert Patrick Cannon heads the group.

K&L Gates LLP’s team often handles work with a strong cross-border element; the group’s clients are largely international sports governing bodies, rights holders, and sports businesses involved in media, broadcasting, sponsorship and merchandising. The highly regarded Warren Phelops heads the group, with strong support from media and commercial rights expert John Elgar. Elgar acted for Arena Racing on the establishment of The Racing Partnership: a joint venture with seven independent racecourses, including Fakenham, Hexham and Plumpton, to launch a television channel (also called The Racing Partnership) for licensed betting offices. This involved negotiating media rights and licence agreements, as well as handling corporate structuring. Phelops and Dunn acted for DFL Sports Enterprises on its international tender of audio-visual media rights to broadcast Bundesliga matches. Other clients include Madison Sports Group and Maddie Hinch. Arthur Artinian is recommended for sports IP, sponsorship, marketing, data privacy and media matters. Andrew Danson joined Bird & Bird LLP in May 2017.

McCormicks is well known for its work for the Premier League, though it also acts for clients across a range of other sports on contentious, commercial and regulatory matters. ‘Market-leading’ name partner Peter McCormick has ‘excellent judgement’ and is ‘vastly experienced’; he advised key client the Premier League on the continuing financial difficulties of Portsmouth FC. McCormick is also a ‘fearsome opponent’ in contentious matters: he successfully represented the Premier League against the HMRC’s challenge to the football creditors rule, and defended it in arbitration brought by Leyton Orient FC concerning the League’s decision to approve West Ham United FC’s move to the Olympic Stadium. The ‘very impressive, cost-effectivePhilip Edmondson, who made partner in August 2016, is ‘a hard worker with a good eye for detail’ and ‘exudes an air of calm capability’. An experienced arbitrator and litigator, Edmondson acted for Professional Game Match Officials in proceedings against a former referee looking to set up a rival training programme. Shooting is a niche area of expertise for the practice, which acts for various shoot proprietors. The ‘extremely capableLewis Goodwin, a corporate finance expert with strong IP and IT capabilities, made partner in August 2016.

Exceptional’ litigation and arbitration boutique Morgan Sports Law Ltd., which is especially strong in handling anti-doping, corruption and selection disputes, primarily represents athletes, sport executives and managers. Practice head Mike Morgan is ‘pre-eminent’ in anti-doping cases; he successfully defended Liverpool FC player Mamadou Sakho against a doping violation claim brought by UEFA. He also acted for Maria Sharapova in reducing her ITF-imposed two-year ban to 15 months. Morgan also represented the Russian Olympic Committee in its appeal before the CAS challenging the IAAF’s 2015 suspension of the All-Russia Athletic Federation, which barred all Russian athletes from competing in international competitions. Other anti-doping defendants represented by Morgan include Lizzie Deignan (formerly Lizzie Armitstead) and Tyson and Hughie Fury. Senior associate Richard Martin is also recommended.

RPC’s ‘extremely responsive’ team ‘knows the sports industry inside out’, and provides a ‘very high level of service’. Practice head Jeremy Drew represents Sports Direct in a long-running dispute with Rangers FC regarding football kit supply and sponsorship agreements. He also advised the same client on a sponsorship deal with the Football Association of Ireland. Tom Hibbert represented Lancashire County Cricket Club in a dispute against NatWest and RBS regarding the alleged mis-sale of a financial product it was required to enter into as part of the redevelopment financing of Emirates Old Trafford. Other clients include Dunlop and the English Lacrosse Association. Tax disputes expert Adam Craggs, and senior associates Andrew Crystal, who is a commercial specialist, Nicole Jahanshahi, who focuses on IP and sports disputes, and Henry Priestley, an expert in football regulatory issues, are also recommended.

Sheridans’s team is ‘at the forefront of sport litigation’ but also handles non-contentious work across a wide range of sports, and its burgeoning e-sports practice is especially worthy of note. ‘Extremely capable and experienced’ department head Andrew Nixon advised FaceIt on the formation of a large e-sports league, which involved the construction of a competition regulatory framework and contract negotiations with e-sports teams. The ‘pre-eminent’ Daniel Geey is ‘always available’; he acted for Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien on the sports and regulatory aspects of their acquisition of a controlling stake in Swansea City FC. Other clients include UK Sport, the FA and the Rugby Football League. Associate Jonny Madill is ‘really making a name for himself in sports law’; digital sport and sports data are particular strengths of his.

Known for its strength in the charity sector, Bates Wells Braithwaite’s ‘diligent’ team primarily acts for sports charities and national governing bodies. The practice provides ‘comprehensive and accurate advice’, is ‘good value for money’ and goes ‘above and beyond’ expectations. Department head Thea Longley is a ‘great communicator’ who, according to one client, ‘steers you towards the best option’; she acted for Football Foundation on a new sports funding programme Parklife, which involves closer cooperation with local authorities to improve the provision of football facilities. The team has niche expertise assisting sporting bodies with obtaining and structuring grants. Other clients include the RFU, the Lawn Tennis Association and several high-profile sportspeople.

Fladgate LLP bolstered its sports offering by hiring football finance and commercial expert James Earl and senior associate David Quinlan from Pinsent Masons LLP in September 2016. Earl, who is dual qualified in England and Australia, assisted London 2017 and London Championships with governance, financing, insurance and regulatory matters; both clients are the SPVs tasked with delivering the 2017 London IAAF World Athletics Championships and World Para Athletics Championships. He also acted for Ironman on its acquisition of a major UK endurance event. Other clients include Limelight Sports and Mahindra Racing. Litigator and arbitrator Mark Buckley and commercial expert Alan Wetterhahn are also recommended.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘first-rate’ and ‘very responsive’ practice is jointly headed by commercial experts Paul Joukador and Richard Welfare, and counsel Penny Powell, who is a corporate, commercial and M&A specialist. ‘Nothing is too much trouble’ for the team, which provides ‘clear, always appropriate advice’, ‘understands its clients’ and is ‘easy to do business with’. ‘Pragmatic’ commercial regulatory expert Richard Welfare has ‘a can-do attitude’; the British Paralympic Association is a key client of his. Real estate partner Daniel Norris assisted AFC Wimbledon with acquiring a new stadium site in Merton. Other clients include Sport England and the International Rugby Wheelchair Federation; British Parasnowsport is a new client.

Irwin Mitchell’s department is led by Southampton-based commercial litigator, arbitrator and mediator Hannah Clipston, with support from private client and tax compliance specialist Michael Taylor, who is based in Chichester. Clients have included Table Tennis England.

Especially strong in advising rights holders on ticketing and sponsorship, Kerman & Co LLP’s practice also handles sports data protection work, and has contentious capabilities. Consultant Nick Bitel advised for All England Lawn Tennis Club on unauthorised Wimbledon 2016 ticket sales, determining whether action against the original ticket seller was necessary. On the contentious side, Zane Shihab represented London Marathon Events in an anti-doping case brought against Liliya Shobukhova, resulting in the latter’s repayment of £377,962 to the client. Bitel led the panel challenging the scope, methodology and conclusions of the BHA’s integrity review. The RFU and the ECB are also clients. Suzanne Proctor moved in-house with UEFA in March 2017.

Russell-Cooke LLP’s practice is strong in IP protection, acting for sports regulators, and handling emergency reputation management work for high-profile athletes. It is also commended by clients for its ‘wide experience in corruption inquiries and anti-doping’. The ‘toughPeter Cadman is ‘impossible to intimidate by the press or investigators’; he jointly heads the team with the ‘savvy, responsive’ and ‘vastly experienced’ Matt Bosworth, who is singled out for his ‘expertise in criminal and civil remedies for IP infringements’. The ‘relaxed style’ of ‘very knowledgeable’ associate Semin Taner belies her ‘tenacious approach to cases’. Clients include British Fencing, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Lord Coe confidant Nick Davies and Sky UK.

Slaughter and May assists sports clients with a very wide range of work, including disputes, IP, commercial contracts, governance, investments and real estate. Practice head Andrew Jolly is especially strong in football, and advises Premier League clubs including Arsenal FC and Everton FC on commercial, disciplinary, governance and regulatory matters. David Ives acted for the Boat Race Company on all its IP and sponsorship matters, and assisted it with all legal issues concerning the staging of the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race. The US Ski and Snowboard Association is another client. Damian Taylor is recommended for dispute resolution, and has particular experience in football and motorsport.

Known for its strength in commercial work, Wiggin LLP’s practice is particularly active in advising media groups and sports clubs on the purchase, exploitation and protection of media rights. ‘Always contactable’ commercial expert Ross Sylvester, who heads the department, provides ‘carefully tailored advice’ and ‘turns work around in very short timeframes’. He acted for Perform Group on its 17-year partnership with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), allowing the client to distribute and sell all FIBA’s media rights to high-profile basketball tournaments. He also advised Whisper Films on its outdoor broadcasting contract with Presteigne for Formula One races, and on its production broadcasting contract with Channel 4 for 2016 Formula One races. Other clients include Manchester United FC and Racecourse Media Group.

Adelphi Sports Law is very strong in advising footballers and agents on sponsorship, image rights, player transfers, endorsements, regulatory issues and defamation, as well as representing them in litigation. Paul Fletcher is the key contact. Other clients include the ITF, snooker player Mark Selby, and darts players Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.

Burges Salmon LLP’s department is best known for its expertise in football, motorsport and equestrian sports, where it has significant regulatory experience, spanning constitutional and governance issues, integrity, anti-doping and financial conduct. Horseracing expert Laura Claydon represented Jockey Club Racecourses in a High Court case against bookmakers, concerning the establishment of new betting areas for on-course bookmakers, in particular at Cheltenham Racecourse. On the commercial side, Helen Scott-Lawler advised Independent Racecourse Group on its media rights deal with Arena Racing for the launch of a new TV channel. Anti-doping and integrity expert Jeremy Dickerson heads the group. Employment expert Roger Bull and senior associate James Pheasant, who is a regulatory and anti-doping specialist, are also recommended.

Clintons’ team is especially strong in regulatory and commercial matters; it also handles sports litigation. Consultant Mel Stein, who heads the practice, is experienced in private client work for high-profile footballers, advising regulatory bodies on regulatory matters, and handling sponsorship and merchandising matters for clubs, players and regulatory bodies. He is supported by litigator Karim Bouzidi and branding and marketing expert Philip Stinson. Stein and associate Sebastian Jones advised England Netball on drafting the Vitality Netball Superleague’s regulatory framework from scratch. Other clients include SportQuake and the National League.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s practice has an excellent corporate and commercial track record, and strong experience on the regulatory side. M&A specialist Clive Garston acted for athlete representation and sports marketing company TLA Worldwide on preparing the relevant documents for a Premiership rugby match played in New York between London Irish and Saracens. Manchester United FC is also a client. Commercial litigator Jan Levinson heads the practice. Sport injury specialist Bruce Ralston left to join Weightmans LLP in May 2017.

Rights holders, sports agencies, broadcasters and distributors feature prominently on Halebury’s client roster; the practice also has experience advising on major sports events. Janvi Patel and Denise Nurse jointly head the practice, which includes ‘very experienced’ consultant and sports lynchpin Raj Koria; he advised Lagardère Sports and Entertainment on its sale of the media rights to the 2016 Olympics in 40 European territories, which included handling the tendering process, sales agreements and negotiations with the International Olympic Committee. Other clients of the practice include Dentsu Sports Europe, Sky Sports and CAA Eleven.

Hamlins LLP’s team has experience across a wide range of sports, including e-sports and short-format sports, as well as more conventional sports such as football, cricket and motorsport. Non-contentious commercial expert Matthew Pryke, who heads the practice, provided strategic advice to the ECB regarding the impending insolvency of Durham County Cricket Club. He also acted for MTB Ventures on the structuring, protection and growth of new tennis format Tie Break Tens, including assisting with an event at Vienna’s Erste Bank Open. British Wheelchair Basketball is another client.

Keystone Law’s sports work is ‘very diverse and constantly expanding’. Highlights included acting for Perform Group on its provision of sports data to the media and betting markets, and on its acquisition of international media and marketing rights to global sports events. He also advised World Wrestling Entertainment on regulatory and commercial matters concerning its network and brand in the UK. Former jockey Rachel Flynn is recommended for equestrian sports, and commercial litigator Jacqueline Brown is experienced in football as well as equestrian sports. Morris Bentata left to establish sports media boutique Level Law.

Commercial contracts and IP specialist Jeremy Courtenay-Stamp jointly heads Macfarlanes LLP’s team with commercial litigator and arbitrator Geoff Steward. Clients have included Umbro and the UCI Independent Commission.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s practice has contentious and non-contentious experience across a range of sports, though football disputes are a particular strength. Group head Mark Hovell is a ‘senior statesman’ with ‘very wide experience, including as a CAS arbitrator’; he defended Jake Livermore at a disciplinary hearing in which the FA decided it would not ban the Hull City midfielder after he failed a drugs test. On the commercial side, Hovell’s clients include the England women’s netball team. ‘Very hardworking’ consultant Carol Couse ‘delves into all aspects of a dispute, never leaving a client short-changed’, and uses her fluency in Spanish ‘to great effect in the Spanish and Latin American football industry’: she acted for Global W Mexico on its contract with Soccerex to organise and host the Soccerex Americas Forum, a global football trade fair.

Sailing, equestrian sports and motorsport are the core strengths of Payne Hicks Beach’s team, which is headed by Jonathan Gatward. Consultant and sailing expert Richard Butcher acted for Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation on a fundraising collaboration with the Royal Yachting Association, and on an agreement with the 1851 Trust for a sailing project to encourage young people to sail. He also advised Olympic sailors Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves on a sponsorship agreement with Pensato Capital. Litigator Dominic Crossley has longstanding experience in representing high-profile individuals in harassment, defamation and breach of privacy cases. Equestrian specialist Sarah Webb is recommended for commercial litigation. Defamation, privacy and breach of confidence expert Hanna Basha joined from Hill Dickinson LLP in May 2017.

Collyer Bristow LLP’s practice handles contentious and non-contentious work for a wide range of clients, including sportspeople and media groups. Charles Braithwaite, who jointly heads the team with dispute resolution expert Steven Heffer, advised various racehorse trainers, owners and syndicates on agreements regarding horse sales, training and leasing. Heffer represented numerous victims of phone-hacking in the sports sector in damages claims brought against News Group Newspapers and Mirror Group Newspapers. Marco Materazzi is another client.

Litigator Richard Green heads Hill Dickinson LLP’s largely Liverpool-based practice, which handles contentious, regulatory and commercial work, and assists clients with facing disciplinary investigations. Football is its key area of activity and Liverpool FC and Steven Gerrard are among its high-profile clients. Associate David Keenan is recommended.

The ‘enthusiastic, dynamic’ team at Penningtons Manches LLP stands out for its commitment. The ‘authoritativeRichard Marshall and the ‘technically strong, responsive and hardworkingAndrew Haywood are the key contacts, and are ‘extremely personable, energetic and passionate about sport’. Commercial dispute resolution is a strength of the practice: Marshall acted for the Ortiz-Patiño estate on a potential €15m breach of contract claim relating to its sale of Valderrama Group, owner of the Valderrama Golf Club. Litigator Alex Fox, who has ‘an extremely commercial’ approach, advised the owners of Notts County FC on seeking a resolution to its high-profile commercial problems.

Well known for its representation of sporting individuals, Russells Solicitors’s team handles commercial, tax, family, employment and private client matters, and is particularly strong in disputes. Litigator and practice head Steven Tregear represented boxing promoter Frank Warren in a dispute with a venue operator regarding whether or not Warren had a valid venue hire contract for a particular date; he also advised Warren on reputation management issues. Litigator John Reid acted for Nathan Douglas in claims brought against UK Athletics and an Italian training camp following a foot injury sustained at the camp. Other clients include Linford Christie and the ECB. Litigator Ellen Gallagher joined from Goodman Derrick LLP in September 2016.

Simkins LLP’s practice acts for high-profile sportspeople and sporting bodies. The group has a core focus advising major sporting bodies on their media and entertainment activities, and also has experience in reputation management, corporate matters and private client work. Ed Baden-Powell, who handles commercial contracts and sporting events, is the key contact and reputation management expert Gideon Benaim is also recommended. Consultant Nigel Bennett advises clubs on commercial and regulatory matters, and assists sportspeople and agents with sponsorship and broadcasting contracts.

Simons Muirhead & Burton’s ‘burgeoning’ practice, which handles a ‘broad spread of work’ and has ‘excellent industry knowledge’, is best known for its media-related sports work. ‘Trustworthy’ practice head Marc Sobol, who offers ‘carefully tailored solutions’, acted for European Professional Club Rugby on the auction sale of its UK television rights, and assisted Talksport with its bid for exclusive Premier League radio broadcast rights. The ‘calm, sensibleSimon Goldberg advises the Professional Squash Association on all its commercial, contractual and regulatory matters. ‘Conscientious, robust, street-smart litigatorStephen Shotnes is ‘a good man to have in your corner’; consultant and equestrian expert Laurie Cooke is also recommended.

Motorsport and football are core areas of expertise for Stephenson Harwood’s multi-disciplinary group, which is headed by litigator and international arbitrator Louis Flannery QC. Restructuring and insolvency expert Julian Cahn defended the administrators of Rangers FC against a £27m post-insolvency contractual claim brought by Ticketus. Projects and infrastructure specialist Jonathan Cripps advised the Valleys Development Company on its £280m PPP development of a motorsport complex in South Wales. Other clients include Athletes USA and Billericay Town FC. Senior associate Ben Sigler is a commercial litigator with a sports focus.

Teacher Stern LLP’s department has an ‘unrivalled service ethic’, and provides ‘exemplary advice’. It has experience in corporate, commercial, contentious and regulatory work; recent clients have included high-profile football agent Kia Joorabchian, Carlos Tevez and Charlton Athletic FC. Football player transfers and contentious and non-contentious motorsport employment matters were particular areas of activity in 2016. ‘Trustworthy’ practice head David Salisburygoes above and beyond to achieve client satisfaction’. Corporate partner Claire Rollo and TMT specialist Martine Nathan are also recommended.

Thomas Cooper LLP has a ‘very good team’ comprising commercial lawyers, regulatory experts and ‘excellent litigators’, all of whom are ‘great to have in your corner’. Football is the group’s core focus. The ‘sensible, commercial, approachable and smart’ James Severn, who made partner in May 2016, jointly heads the practice with employment expert Nick Humphreys, who acted for former assistant manager Nigel Gibbs in a wrongful dismissal case brought against Leeds United FC. Domestic and international football disputes are a key strength of the practice. Humphreys and associate Alex Brooks represented footballer Jordan McMillan and his intermediary in appealing a two-year ban handed down by the National Anti-Doping Panel; the ban was reduced.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team has notable experience in advising national governing bodies on regulatory and disciplinary matters; the ‘highly efficient, cost-effective, pragmatic and resourceful’ Richard Lane is an expert in this space. Christine Jackson is the key commercial partner: she advised British Dressage on renegotiating its commercial and contractual agreements with the show organiser of two of its major national competitions, the Winter Championships and the National Championships. Senior associate Rachel Gwynne assisted the English Schools’ Football Association with its incorporation as a charitable organisation. Other national governing body clients include British Showjumping; Macmillan Racing is a client on the corporate and finance side.

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