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Who Represents Who

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Godfather of sports law’ Peter McCormick heads the sports department at Harrogate firm McCormicks and is ‘vastly experienced, savvy and has the ear of The Premier League’. Recent highlights for his key client include advice in relation to the continuing financial difficulties of Portsmouth FC, representing the League in the landmark challenge to the football creditor rules brought against it by HMRC, which ultimately led to a claim dismissal and costs award, and advising and drafting broadcasting and media access rules following the broadcast deal that came into effect in August 2016. Other football clients include the Premier League Charitable Fund and Leeds United FC. The firm also acts for shoot proprietors and assist members of the public and shoots with applications for shotgun and firearms certifications, including appeals. Both Lewis Goodwin and Philip Edmondson were promoted to the partnership in August 2016.

The sports department at Walker Morris LLP is particularly strong regarding football and has been involved in a number of club takeovers in recent times. As an example, the team advised Eleonora Sport Limited on the purchase of shareholdings in Leeds United FC and assisted Inner Circle Investments with the purchase of Bolton Wanderers FC. Finance expert David Hinchliffe leads the team and is ‘well connected’, ‘shrewd and a problem-solver’. A contentious highlight for the team was advising Crystal Palace Football Club in its dispute with former manager Tony Pulis for leaving at the start of the 2014-15 season, in which a Premier League Tribunal decision to award the Club damages of £3.77m plus costs was upheld on appeal. The team has also been advising a Premier League club on a large kit supply dispute. Senior associate Katie Reed and associate Geoff Cunningham also come recommended.

Chris Allen leads the sports team at Blacks Solicitors LLP in Leeds and is a ‘consummate professional and a concise lawyer with a fine eye for detail’. The team provides full legal services to sports clients in matters ranging from civil and commercial cases and disciplinary matters to ancillary relief and immigration. It represents individual sportspeople as well as clubs, academies and other corporations with involvement in the sector. Assistant solicitor Andrew Boyde is highly recommended as a ‘go-to’ for clients across the sports sector, but as a former professional rugby union player has ‘insight to the game that gives him an edge over competitors’. Recent highlights for the team include negotiating the exit of a manager from a football club, negotiating broadcast, filming and production agreements, advising on settlement agreements and reviewing representation agreements.

The cross-department team at Clarion is led by Richard Moran, who has considerable experience advising on the purchase, sale and funding of football and rugby clubs, stadium acquisitions, commercial agreements and sponsorships. A highlight for the practice in 2016 was successfully defending Silverstone Circuits against a later abandoned claim for alleged breach of contract relating to the provision of catering services at the racing circuit, which threatened the client’s ability to continue hosting the British Grand Prix. Esther Kirwan has been representing various sports clients in trade mark and brand protection matters. The private client and family team continues to represent high-profile sportsmen and women, while the banking and finance team has been acting for sports clients in relation to a debt reorganisation and refinance.

Richard Cramer heads the niche sports firm Front Row Legal and specialises in dispute resolution matters for high-profile clients. The firm acts for individuals and companies in a range of matters, from commercial, regulatory and disciplinary issues to media and entertainment and arts law matters; the latter includes IP, privacy and image rights matters as well as specific sports law disputes arising in venues such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Based in Leeds, the team also comprises Robina Hussein, who specialises in dispute resolution, employment and business law.

Giles Searby heads the multidisciplinary sports team at HLW Keeble Hawson, whose client base includes Southampton FC, Chesterfield FC and Doncaster Knights RUFC. The department provides litigation advice and defence, corporate support and advice on commercial property and human resources. The team has recently been advising two England test cricketers with property acquisitions and continues to provide general legal support to Doncaster Knights, and general commercial support to Chesterfield FC.

Leeds-based Shulmans LLP’s sports department is headed by Rob Lucas and advises multinational sports brands, football clubs and local sports clubs. Lucas has been leading matters for sports clients relating to media and entertainment law and intellectual property, including advising Setteo, a start-up social network for racket sports, on establishing a UK base for future development and growth internationally, and assisting a sportswear brand with potential trade mark infringement proceedings. The team has also been advising Blackburn Rovers FC on utility charges by telecoms companies.

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Legal Developments in Yorkshire and the Humber 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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