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Field Seymour Parkes LLP advises on the full gamut of sports-related issues including employment, real estate, licensing and corporate and regulatory matters. The team continues to advise longstanding client Reading Football Club on a range of issues, and also has substantial experience acting for golf, rowing, tennis and basketball teams, among others. Highlights included advising Berkshire Active on the corporate status and tax implications of several amateur sporting clubs including Sonning Tennis Club, Newbury Athletics Club and Thames Valley Kings Basketball; and acting for Wingpow Limited on the establishment of a national association for cheerleading. Managing partner Jeremy Parkes advises on large-scale corporate transactions, and senior associate Bettina Phillis heads the sports law team, advising on title rights, second-tier sponsorship deals and agency contacts, among other matters.

Rix & Kay Solicitors LLP’ ‘excellent’ team is praised for its ‘efficient service, strong advice and good value for money’. The firm advises a mix of grassroots clubs and high-profile sports personalities on the full spectrum of corporate, commercial, employment and property issues, and also has a strong track record in dispute resolution. The team regularly advises Active Sussex on various employment and volunteer-related matters, and recently assisted Ansty Village Centre Steering Committee with the establishment of a village centre and a charitable incorporated organisation, a matter involving the merging of a village hall, a social club, a cricket club and a football club into a new charitable organisation. Key figures include Bruce Hayter, who heads the team and advises on commercial and intellectual property issues; Richard Cripps, who specialises in sports sector corporate and M&A transactions; and Amy White, who provides ‘extremely competent, timely and professional’ advice.

Clients single out Irwin Mitchell as fielding ‘a standout practice for sports-related advice and dispute resolution’. The team ‘has a strong ability to cover all areas of the sector’. The firm’s client base includes a range of national and international governing bodies, sports clubs, funders and agents, and the team primarily advises on regulatory and governance issues, corporate finance and intellectual property. Highlights included advising Greenwich Leisure on a variety of commercial matters including bids for sports facility management contracts, planning and development issues, membership terms and conditions and data protection issues. The team also acted for Nuffield Health on its acquisition of the business and assets of CBT Services, a service providing cognitive behavioural therapy, which will be made available as part of Nuffield Health’s fitness and wellbeing gyms. Hannah Clipston heads the team, which includes Michael Taylor, who focuses on private client matters, and Stuart Padgham, who undertakes a range of commercial and IP work.

Highlights for Moore Law included advising Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club on a pouring and sponsorship rights agreement with major Sussex brewer Harveys; and acting for Fontwell Park Steeplechase on its hosting of the Mutiny Festival, a matter involving negotiation with festival organisers and festival landowners to protect the Fontwell facilities and track. It also advised Technogym UK on various new media, communication and privacy initiatives. Tristram Moore heads the boutique sports practice, and ‘continues to increase the firm’s relationships with sports clients through his sector knowledge and his ability to get the job done’. Other notable clients include The Sidemen, Trainerspotter and Joe Weller.

SA Law LLP specialises in advising Premiership and England-level footballers on various aspects of family law, and also acts for a range of other advisers including agents, IFAs and accountants on commercial law, contract negotiation, immigration and property investment issues. Key figures include practice head Robert Ryall, who has significant expertise in motor sports and football litigation, with a track record in disciplinary tribunals at both Premier League and Football League levels; Peter Goodman, who advises primarily on contract drafting and negotiation in the motor sports sector; and Steve Kenneford, a residential property expert who acts for a number of high-profile celebrity and sporting names on high-value property transactions. Belinda Walkinshaw joined Carbon Law Partners.

Stevens & Bolton LLP acts for a strong client base in the sports and leisure sectors, advising a mix of high-profile sports personalities, large corporates, clubs and start-ups on the full gamut of IP, commercial, corporate and employment matters. In a recent highlight, the group acted for German e-commerce group Jago in an online trade mark infringement matter involving its gym and fitness brand "Physionics", where the mark was used to sell a competitor’s products via the online platform Amazon. The team also advised an international online fitness blogger on a book publication agreement with Misfits Publishing, and assisted Knog in a UK-based registered design infringement matters. Intellectual property lawyer Tom Lingard heads the practice.

Verisona Law is noted for its expertise in the football sector, advising numerous clubs, associations and players on sports governance along with business and player matters. The group also assists with family wealth management, family law and property issues, and acts for clubs and club owners in transfer agreements, employment and HR matters, regulatory issues and IP, brand and data protection rights. Highlights included assisting Portsmouth FC with its transition to fan ownership, and advising Aldershot FC on its restructuring. Managing director Sue Ball is the key contact.

Warners Solicitors’ key areas of expertise include country and target sports, most notably game shooting, hunting, fishing and competitive and recreational riding. The team regularly advises Masters of Foxhounds Association on various issues including internal constitutional matters, disciplinary proceedings against hunt individuals and employment matters involving hunt staff. Other recent highlights include acting for J M Osborne & Co and William Powell Sporting in numerous legal issues, including the employment of gamekeepers and other staff on grouse moors, and criminal and regulatory issues involving shotguns, firearms and alleged wildlife crime. Michael McNally heads the department and specialises in employment litigation, acting primarily for hunts, shoots, landed estates and animal-related organisations. Tim Ryan is the other key figure, and has substantial expertise in criminal and regulatory law related to country sports.

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Legal Developments in South East for Sport

  • Ofcom publishes review of the wholesale broadband access market

    On 3 December 2010, Ofcom published its final statement setting out its analysis of the state of competition in the wholesale broadband access (WBA) market and the measures it is taking to protect consumers in situations where competition alone is insufficient. 

    - SJ Berwin LLP

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