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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 > North West > 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

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Key figures at Brabners LLP include the ‘excellentMaurice Watkins and the ‘thoroughLydia Edgar; Edgar ‘quickly understands the clients’ needs, provides options and solutions to tight deadlines, and is good at making the clients feel confident that they are in safe hands. She is trustworthy, reliable and reassuring’. The team was joined by Simon Taylor from Kennedys; he specialises in motor sport work primarily. Director Jason Smith is also singled out for praise. The team has been advising on a five-year commercial agreement between Premier Gateway International and its client Chester Race Company in relation to providing wagering services at Chester & Bangor-on-Dee Racecourses. Other clients include Liverpool FC, Barnsley FC, British Swimming and UCI (the world governing body for cycling).

According to one client, Centrefield LLP is ‘among the best specialist sports practices by some distance, and undoubtedly one of the leading firm of solicitors for football’. The ‘extremely popular’ Matthew Bennett has ‘unparalleled knowledge and experience of regulatory law and is very popular with clients’. The ‘first-class and responsive’David Bentham has ‘excellent industry knowledge and a superb commercial focus’. The ‘very bright, calm and unflappable’ Stuart Baird, who was recently made partner, ‘knows the football industry inside out and commands respects’. Edward Canty is another ‘pre-eminent sports lawyer who is knowledgeable, skilful and user-friendly’. The team works with governing bodies, national associations, leagues, clubs, players and athletes on the full range of sports matters. It represents the Professional Footballers’ Association on a broad range of matters and has been advising Leicester Tigers Rugby Union Club on its new sponsorship agreement with Holland & Barrett, which was appointed as the club’s main sponsor ahead of the 2016/2017 season. Other recent highlights include advising on high-profile managerial appointments and dismissals in the Premier League and the Football League.

Led by the ‘highly regardedJohn Burns, Gateley Plc has a ‘strong position in the market’ and provides a ‘very personable and responsive service’. Burns is ‘extremely commercial and has an ability to see the world from the client’s perspective’. Also recommended are associate Nick Murrills, who has ‘wide-ranging knowledge of sports law’, and solicitor Conor Hannon, who is ‘precise, knowledgeable and pragmatic’. The practice has been advising on a range of important deals and is well regarded for its work in brand licensing, sponsorship, general commercial contracts and stadium development work in the sports sector, especially for football clubs. It has been advising Everton FC on its first-ever rights deal with USM Holdings for the club’s training ground at Finch Farm. It also advised Samworth Brothers on the partnership agreement between the client’s Ginsters brand with the Football League and separately with Plymouth Argyle FC. This was the first football league partnership that Ginsters had been involved in. Other key clients include Manchester City FC.

Mark Hovell heads the team at Mills & Reeve LLP. He is a noted arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and in 2016 issued more than 40 decisions at the CAS involving issues ranging from doping, match fixing and employment law to disciplinary and training compensation matters. Carol Couse is a key consultant and heads the Latin American desk. She is vastly experienced in football regulatory matters and has a particular focus on Hispanic clients. The team regularly advises clubs such as Burnley FC and Glasgow Rangers on transfer deals, player contracts and on various disciplinary matters with players. It also routinely advises on the full range of issues involving image rights in football, such as establishing and restructuring image rights companies in the UK and abroad to ensure tax compliance. It also advises on image rights deals between footballers’ image rights companies and football clubs following transfer negotiations. Other key clients include the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘top-notch team’ is headed by the ‘commercially astuteJulian Diaz-Rainey, who is one of the ‘go-to people for sports disputes outside of London; he is an excellent litigator who has a very strong following in sport’. His main area of expertise is sports-related litigation and arbitration, but he also covers issues concerning governance and regulation in sport. He represents Premier League players as well as Premier League and Football League clubs. The ‘dedicated and knowledgeable’ Andrew Mitchell (a senior associate) also has an ‘impressive pedigree in this area’. ‘Hardworking, switched-on and very experienced’ senior associate Jo Seed is also recommended. Clients include Everton FC, Sport England, Rugby Football League, London 2017 and British Equestrian Federation.

At DAC Beachcroft LLP, Jan Levinson continues to enjoy longstanding relationships with a number of sports clubs, governing bodies, venues, personalities and their insurers. He is also known for his work on sports injuries. The team was instructed by Sir Bradley Wiggins in relation to the termination of his agency relationship with his agent, MTC (UK) Limited. The team has acted for Manchester United for more than 20 years in relation to all alcohol/gaming and other licensing issues.

Hill Dickinson LLP’s multi-disciplinary team advises on sports contracts, dispute resolution, disciplinary and regulatory matters, with an increased focus on rights, reputation and brand management issues for clubs, promoters and athletes. Richard Green and Geraldine Ryan are recommended. The team is acting for a number of sports people, celebrities and other high-profile individuals on compensation claims arising from News Group International/Mirror Group’s well publicised phone-hacking. In another key matter it represented Wayne Rooney following an article published by the Irish Examiner alleging that Wayne Rooney was dropped from the Manchester United squad for their fixtures with West Ham United and Wolfsburg as he turned up to training with alcohol in his system. The claim was settled by the Irish Examiner with an apology and the payment of damages and costs.

Paul Fletcher at Adelphi Sports Law has a ‘real depth of sports law knowledge, particularly in football. He is very good at managing the politics of football and balancing the needs of clubs, managers, agents and the players’. The team is best known for advising football intermediaries/agents and their players on matters including sponsorship and endorsement agreements, player transfers, image rights, book deals and other issues such as crisis management. Other areas of expertise include advising event promoters, PR companies, marketing agencies and sports apparel and equipment suppliers on contentious and non-contentious matters.

Farleys Solicitors LLP provides a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary service mainly to individuals employed in sport but also to bodies and associations. It has continued to act for those involved in various sports such as football, darts, cycling, short mat bowls and boxing. Team head Daniel Draper is experienced at representing clients in various venues such as before FA arbitrations and football disciplinary commission panels. In addition he has acted for a number of footballers in contract negotiations with English Premier League clubs.

Hillyer McKeown has a new head of team following the arrival of senior associate Dominic McGinn from Cassell Moore. He represents a wide range of clients including Premier League footballers and football agents. Steve Harvey and David Jones were instructed by the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to draft and negotiate a tripartite co-operation agreement between WADA, UKAD and RUSADA for the provision of sample collections and testing services to Russian athletes.

JMW Solicitors LLP’s ongoing highlights include representing Wilfried Bony in a claim against two former agents, their two companies and a Premier League football club in relation to the misappropriation of substantial sums of money over a period of years. In another significant matter it is advising Scott McGarvey in a claim against the Daily Telegraph for deceit/misrepresentation arising from undercover reporters pretending to be an overseas investment group wishing to invest in a UK football agency. Mike Blood, Marc Yaffe and Jordan Mornington are recommended.

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