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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

Editorial

Other

Index of tables

  1. Sport
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Stuart Baird - Centrefield LLP

Rising stars

  1. 1

Brabners LLP - 'a leading light in sports law in the North West' - advises national and international sporting clients on a wide variety of matters, including IP, media, the organisation of major events, disputes, defamation, employment, real estate, governance and regulations. Clients include national governing bodies, clubs, organisations, players and athletes. Maurice Watkins heads the team alongside Lydia Edga. 'Exceptional' senior associate Andrew McGregor specialises in football rules and regulations, while Andrea James joined as partner from Knights plc.

Practice head(s):Maurice Watkins; Lydia Edgar

Other key lawyers:Andrew McGregor; Andrea James; Jason Smith

Testimonials

Very strong historically in sport’.

Excellent connections, and great standards’.

A leading light in sports law in the North West’.

Key Clients

Liverpool Football Club

Leicester City Football Club

Ligue Européenne de Natation

WMG Management Europe

International Sports Management

Basketball England

British Swimming

European Tour Caddies Association

British Judo

Commonwealth Games Federation

Barnsley Football Club

Rugby Players Association

Work highlights

  • Acting for a promising young footballer in a claim brought against an opponent (and his club) who caused him a career-ending injury in a negligent challenge.
  • Defended England cricket vice captain, Ben Stokes, against charges of affray arising from a fight in Bristol in September 2017.
  • Instructed by Birmingham City Football Club to defend a claim brought against the club by Middlesbrough Football Club  concerning allegations that it had induced the breach of employment contracts between Middlesbrough and members of its backroom staff.
  • Advising the Commonwealth Games Federation on a number of matters, including its relationship with a sports marketing and entertainment agency.

Centrefield LLP advises big-name clients including Premier League footballers and clubs on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious matters including employment, sponsorship and defamation. As well as football, the firm also advises clients from many other sports including rugby, swimming, golf, basketball, cricket and cycling. Team co-head Matthew Bennett specialises in regulatory and governance, disciplinary and dispute resolution issues, while fellow co-head and 'top-class lawyer' David Bentham focuses on commercial issues such as sponsorship agreements. Edward Canty also shares leadership of the team. Stuart Baird is adept at handling regulatory, dispute, disciplinary and immigration matters.

Practice head(s):Matthew Bennett; David Bentham; Edward Canty

Other key lawyers:Stuart Baird; Oliver Sadler; Deirdre McCarthy

Testimonials

‘They foster a genuine collaborative style, bringing in all the team including juniors and appreciate the commercial drivers businesses’.

‘Excellent communication of deadlines and their own time constraints so that we can manage work problems in an orderly fashion’.

'David Bentham is a top-class lawyer, he has a genuine collaborative style bringing in all his team. He’s an excellent communicator with a good understanding of the commercial drivers of business’.

Key Clients

Manchester City Football Club

Manchester United Football Club

The Rugby Players’ Association

Professional Footballers’ Association

British Cycling

Lancashire County Cricket Club

Leicester Tigers Rugby

Liverpool Football Club

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Major League Soccer

Bristol Sport Group

Everton Football Club

Work highlights

  • Advised the PFA on its review of and response to the FA’s consultation and proposals on its Governing Body Endorsement requirements post-Brexit and its proposals for the international movement of players into English football.
  • Acted on various transfers throughout the 2018 winter and summer transfer windows, including over £500m of Premier League transfers during the summer window.
  • Advised Leicester Tigers in connection with the club’s commercial and sponsorship programme.
  • Acted for Everton Football Club in defending a claim brought by an intermediary and their company, in respect of services that the intermediary alleged they had provided to the club in respect of a player.
  • Successfully defended Manchester City against Velez Sarsfield’s claim in respect of its registration of a young player, affirming the right of EU players to move freely from the age of 16 under the FIFA rules and EU law.

Gateley Plc specialises in sports matters including brand licensing, sponsorship, stadium development work and litigation. Other areas of expertise include image rights agreements, governance, intellectual property, data protection and freedom of information requests. Key clients include national and international governing bodies and top football clubs including Manchester City, Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion. Team head John Burns - who 'has an outstanding commercial ability to see opportunities' - focuses on matters such as image rights and commercial agreements.

Practice head(s):John Burns

Other key lawyers:Stephen Roberts; Hayley Sullivan; Polly Egan; Nick Murrills 

Testimonials

'Gateley provide excellent commercial and legal knowledge in a manner that is easy to understand.'

'The team at Gateley are exceptional in their knowledge of the industry and have in-house teams at a number of clubs allowing them to gain an in-depth knowledge day to day which they can then use to assist other clients.'

'They have an exceptional ability to understand not just the legal aspects but also the commercial elements of a contract, balancing the negotiation to get the desired outcome and minimising risk.'

The team at Gateley are very supportive - they have in-depth knowledge and great insight.'

'John Burns and Stephen Roberts are excellent to work with. The respond in a timely manner and we have built strong personal relationships. I would not hesitate to recommend them.'

'John Burns has such a fantastic understanding of sport and the complexities of the dealings in this area as well as the quirks of individuals. He has an outstanding commercial ability to see opportunities as well.'

Key Clients

Manchester City Football Club/City Football Group

Everton Football Club

Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club

International Netball Federation

Sport and Recreation Alliance

Crep Protect Limited

Supporter’s Trust

Engaged Sports Management Limited

United Kingdom Cheerleading Association

North West Counties Squash League

Work highlights

  • Represented Manchester City Football Club/City Football Group in the extension of their stadium.
  • Completed a full set of precedent commercial documents for Everton Football Club.
  • Assisted Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club in their partnership with a well-known beer brand.
  • Provided the broadcasting rights agreement for The International Netball Federation ahead of the World Cup 2019.
  • Drafted GDPR toolkits for the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Mills & Reeve LLP specialises in sports arbitration and litigation. Areas of expertise include image rights, sponsorship and endorsement deals, doping cases, defamation, disputes and tax. The firm's clients include football clubs, national governing bodies, players’ associations, and various athletes. Arbitration specialist Mark Hovell co-heads the team alongside Carol Couse.

Practice head(s):Mark Hovell; Carol Couse

Other key lawyers:Rachael Somerset; Sarah Whyman

Key Clients

Rangers Football Club

The Court of Arbitration for Sport

The Professional Footballers’ Association

Laffer Abogados

James Milner

League Football Education

Great Manchester Sports Partnership

OmniSports Limited

Super League

Preston North End FC

Pro Legal Agency

White Rose Sports Ventures

Entertainment Today

British Cycling

Work highlights

  • Acting for Rangers Football Club  in ongoing litigation with Sports Direct, arising out of a dispute in relation to the agreement under which Sports Direct had a licence to sell Rangers replica kit and other merchandise.
  • Advising on AC Milan's ban from the Europa League Cup Competition due to financial fair play regulations, with Mark Hovell appointed as one of the arbitrators to hear the case.
  • Assisting the PFA with its negotiations with the Premier League in looking to establish a 'save as you earn' scheme for young professional players.
  • Appointed by Super League rugby clubs to review arrangements between the League and the Rugby Football League governing body.

Pinsent Masons LLP advises both national and international sports clients on a broad range of matters, covering investment, disputes, construction, planning and technology. Clients include governing bodies, sponsors, venues, teams, major events, funders, broadcasters and high-net-worth individuals. Julian Diaz-Rainey heads the team and focuses on dispute resolution, commercial and regulatory matters. Senior associate Andrew Mitchell specialises in contentious sports matters. Jo Seed is also recommended.

Practice head(s):Julian Diaz-Rainey

Other key lawyers:Andrew Mitchell; Jo Seed; Samantha Livesey; Alexander Richardson

Key Clients

Manchester City Football Club/City Football Group Limited

The Jockey Club / Jockey Club Racecourses (including Aintree and Haydock Park in the North- West Region)

The International Association of Athletics Federations

The English Football League

Leeds United Football Club (and parent company ASER)

Sport England

UK Sport

Rugby Football League

Everton Football Club

Club Regatas Vasco De Gama FC

Work highlights

  • Obtained an anti-trespass injunction for The Jockey Club barring ticket touts from selling tickets on Cheltenham Racecourse premises.
  • Advising Manchester City Football Club on issues arising out of an inquiry into any connections the club may have had with convicted child sex offender Barry Bennell.
  • Acted for The English Football League in high-profile regulatory charges brought against Watford Football Club and one of its former directors and former chairman Raffaele Riva.
  • Obtained a permanent, anti-trespass injunction barring trespassers from entering any of City Football Group's properties worldwide.
  • Acting for Championship Racing in implementing the commercial contracts required to set-up and run the new series.

DAC Beachcroft LLP advises sporting clients on matters including commercial services, employment and contractual issues, disputes, corporate finance and licensing. A particular area of expertise for the firm is sports injuries - the practice handling claims involving clubs, players and medical professionals. Jan Levinson heads the team and focuses on commercial dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):Jan Levinson

Other key lawyers:Andrew Martin 

Key Clients

Manchester United Limited

Joshua Murray (ex-Manchester City FC)

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Worcestershire County Cricket Club

ECB Cricket Discipline Commission

Brighton & Hove Albion FC

TLA Worldwide Limited

George Crook (ex-Worcester Warriors player)

Lincoln City Football Club

Work highlights

  • Advising Manchester United on licensing matters.
  • Advising on multimillion-pound claim for a sports injury resulting in the retirement of a young football player.

Fletcher Sports Law¬†handles both contentious and non-contentious sports matters, advising on football player transfers, endorsement agreements, regulatory matters, contracts and dispute resolution. Clients include football agents and managers. The ‚Äėattentive‚Äô Paul Fletcher¬†heads the team and is experienced in advising football players, clubs and brands.

Practice head(s):Paul Fletcher

Other key lawyers:Tom Grant

Testimonials

Fletcher Sports Law has developed a unique expertise of the niche market of football agents and their clients and they are able to provide specialist advice in most areas relating to this business’.

Paul Fletcher has a wealth of experience and knowledge on day to day agency business and his work rate and availability make him very dependable’.

This practice is well-organised albeit consisting of few personnel’.

Work highlights

  • Advising the England men’s national football team in relation to their commercial rights and a potential new agreement with the Football Association.

JMW Solicitors LLP advises sporting clients including athletes, footballers, sports clubs, Formula 1 teams and others from the world of motorsport. Mike Blood focuses on sports finance, broadcast and commercial rights; he co-heads the team alongside disputes specialist Marc Yaffe and Ben Peppi. The practice handles a broad range of matters relating to broadcasting, defamation, employment, competition and corporate, among others.

Practice head(s):Mike Blood; Marc Yaffe; Ben Peppi

Other key lawyers:Richard Parkinson; Ian Lewis; Derek Millard Smith; Nick McAleenan; Claire Brown

Key Clients

Worcester Warriors

South African Premier League

Danny Willett

VIP Promotions Ltd and Josh Warrington

Police Superintendents Association of England & Wales and the Police Federation

Daniel Opare

Work highlights

  • Acting for the successful purchasers of Worcester Warriors Premiership Rugby Club.
  • Advised the PSL - South Africa's top football division - on its tender process for the media rights for all PSL competitions for five seasons.
  • Acting for a Ghanaian international footballer who currently plays for Royal Antwerp FC in the Belgian Jupiler League following a claim issued against him for outstanding payments.
  • Advising current IBF flyweight world champion, Josh Warrington and his manager Steve Wood, on the successful world title fight in May 2018 and subsequent extensions to the promotion agreement with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions.
  • Instructed by the Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield and other senior officers in relation to the 1989 tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground.

Shoosmiths LLP's sports offering is led by Richard Millington, who launched the practice for the firm in 2016 after 12 years working in-house. He recently created the firms’ Elite Advisory service, a new private client service for professionals and entrepreneurs in sport, media and entertainment. The practice is active in a broad range of sports including football, rugby, cricket, volleyball and athletics, advising clients on governance, broadcast rights, litigation and partnership deals.

Practice head(s):Richard Millington

Key Clients

City Football Group (Manchester City FC)

The Football Association

Chelsea FC plc

World Dodgeball

British Motor Racing Association

Volleyball England

International Powerlifting

VW (Audi)

Simon Corney

CRS GT

Work highlights

  • Advised CRS GT Limited on a high value motorsports claim based on the binding nature of a set of heads of terms.
  • Advised World Dodgeball on the sale of media and broadcast rights to the World Dodgeball finals event in New York.
  • Instructed to assist the in-house team at Volkswagen with its Audi brand sponsorship with Tottenham Hotspur FC.
  • Instructed by former Oldham FC chairman Simon Corney to take over the issued proceedings against the current owner of the club.
  • Providing guidance to the Federation of Sport & Play throughout the UK’s Brexit negotiations.

'New model' firm Excello Law is an alternative business structure without a traditional hierarchy. Its sports offering is fronted by the 'brilliant' Dominic McGinn, who is based in Liverpool and has a particular focus on litigation. Clients include footballers, football clubs, football agents and sports-based businesses.

Practice head(s):Dominic McGinn

Testimonials

Dominic McGinn's attitude and support is faultless and very much appreciated in highly stressful circumstances’.

Dominic McGinn is a brilliant lawyer and his knowledge of sports law matters is second to none’.

Key Clients

World Sports Advisers S.L

Hartlepool United FC

El Gouna Football Club

Emiliano Insua

Leonardo Ulloa

Merrill Sports

Keith Grindley

Pencilhill Limited

SM Sports Group

Laco Investment Limited

Work highlights

  • Represented Merrill Sports in claims for £500,000 against Manchester City Football Club and Vasco de Gama Football Club following the transfers of two players.
  • Representing broker on claim against Everton Football Club for £6m broker’s fee in relation to sale of the club.

North West law firm Farleys Solicitors LLP advises sports clients on disputes, injuries, employment matters, debt and insolvency and defamation. Clients are drawn from a range of sports including football, boxing, rugby, athletics, darts, cycling, short mat bowls and golf. Daniel Draper heads the team.

Practice head(s):Daniel Draper

Other key lawyers:Michael Corrigan

Key Clients

Professional Footballers’ Association

Manchester City assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell

Karim Rekik (Hertha Belin)

R10 Sports Agency

Marlon King (former Premier League footballer)

Bsynergie Sports Management

Darren Way

Hill Dickinson LLP's sports practice handles commercial contracts, disputes, disciplinary and regulatory matters and reputation and brand management. Clients include clubs, promoters, athletes, sports governing bodies, events and sponsors. Geraldine Ryan, London-based consultant Louise Millington-Roberts and Sue Russell head the team. Ryan has a focus on breach of contract claims while Russell focuses on providing constitutional and commercial advice to sporting organisations.

Practice head(s):Geraldine Ryan; Louise Millington-Roberts; Sue Russell

Key Clients

Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group  Limited

GB Taekwondo

Lancashire County Cricket Club Limited

The Dallaglio Foundation

Blackpool Rovers Football Club

Work highlights

  • Advised Blackburn Rovers Football Club on a football kit sponsorship deal.

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