Firms To Watch: Media and entertainment: Sports

DWF (France) AARPI established its sports practice with the arrival of Emmanuel Durand who joined the firm in February 2021, moving from De Pardieu Brocas Maffei.

Media and entertainment: Sports in France

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance‘s cross-practice sports group advises international, regional, and national sporting bodies, as well as investors, clubs, banks, and other stakeholders on transactional and contentious matters. Involved in some of the largest transactions, the team advised the French Rugby Federation on the long-term strategic partnership between Six Nations Rugby and CVC. On the contentious side, it represented the Ligue de Football Professionnel in commercial litigation initiated by the Groupe Canal+ due to football game rescheduling. Yves Wehrli, member of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body since 2009, heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Yves Wehrli

Key clients

Fédération Française de Football

Ligue de Football Professionnel

Fédération Française de Tennis

Fédération Française de Rugby

Work highlights

  • Advised the FFR in the negotiation between the Six Nations Rugby, the official organising body of the Six Nations Championships and Autumn Internationals, and CVC Capital Partners on the structuring of a long-term strategic partnership.
  • Represented the Ligue de Football Professionnel in the context of several proceedings initiated by Groupe Canal+  against the tender organised by the LFP in January 2021, following Mediapro’s bankruptcy, in order to reattribute the broadcasting rights for the French championships which had been awarded to Mediapro in 2018.
  • Acting as counsel to the French Tennis Federation in the context of the invitation to tender relating to the sale of the broadcasting rights of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tournament in Europe.

De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés

Mostly handling contractual negotiations for major sporting events, De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés was entrusted with drafting and negotiating the public contract for the provision of legal services for the French National Olympic and Sports organisation in relation to the winter Olympics in China in 2022. The practice also acts in trade mark infringement matters, the area of expertise of  Serge Lederman. Before joining the firm in May 2021, Jean-François Vilotte was the CEO of the French Tennis Federation for three years. Louis De Gaulle and Agnès Macaire lead the practice alongside Vilotte and Lederman.

Key clients

Association Sporting Club Bastiais

Caisse des Dépôt et Consignations

Sporsora

UCPA

Ile de France Mobilité

Amaury Sport Organisation (Tour de France, Dakar)

French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF)

French Tennis Federation (Roland-Garros, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Rolex Masters)

UEFA (EURO 2016, Champions League, Europa League)

Joffe & Associés

Particularly well-regarded for its strategic counsel, Joffe & Associés is often retained for its expertise in media rights negotiations. It also handles the bidding, hosting and commercial exploitation aspects of national and international sports competitions. Practice head Romain Soiron is known as an ‘expert in contract negotiation, capable of providing original solutions to complex situations’. Associate Alvyn Gobardhan supports Soiron in sports law and commercial matters.

Practice head(s):

Romain Soiron

Other key lawyers:

Alvyn Gobardhan

Testimonials

‘Soiron has always shown great availability. His experience, his listening skills make him an expert in contract negotiation, capable of providing original solutions to complex situations.’

‘A responsive team that listens to its clients.’

‘Romain Soiron knows how to make himself available to ensure rigorous follow-up of files. It is very nice to work with someone who is passionate and dedicated!’

Key clients

FEDERATION FRANCAISE DE FOOTBALL

LIGUE DE FOOTBALL PROFESSIONNEL

FEDERATION FRANCAISE D’ATHLETISME

FOOT IN ARENA

FRANCE GALOP

FIGHT NATION

IAME SPA

LIGUE NATIONALE DE HANDBALL

ASLOUM EVENT

PUNCHTIME

BRAHIM ASLOUM

FONDS D’INVESTISSEMENTS

Work highlights

  • Initiated legal proceedings against Rojadirecta, one of the biggest streaming websites, before the French courts on behalf of the French Professional Football League in order to protect the value of the French Professional Football League’s TV rights.
  • Assisted Fight Nation with the negotiation of the media contract with the local organisers and with the OTT platform called Sportall for the live broadcasting of several boxing, karate, MMA and judo events.
  • Advised an investment fund wanting to invest in the sports sector to help sports entities to recover from the pandemic.      

August Debouzy

August Debouzy has an established track record in advising major sports organisations, clubs, brands, and athletes on financing, commercial contracts and acquisitions. As chosen counsel for sponsorship and ticketing matters, the firm advised the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee. Drawing on the experience of its TMT and IP specialists, the practice also has significant experience in sports media, including the distribution of sports content on social media. Alexandra Berg-Moussa is particularly active in sponsorship and contractual matters. She heads the practice together with Basile Ader  and Laurent Cotret.

Key clients

URBAN SPORTS CLUB GmbH

JOGO BONITO GROUP (Girondins de Bordeaux – Football club)

ALEX MCMEEKIN

NIKE

OLYMPIQUE DE BIARRITZ

AGENCE FRANÇAISE DE LUTTE CONTRE LE DOPAGE (AFLD)

LOSC (LILLE OLYMPIQUE SPORTING CLUB)

AMER SPORTS CORPORATION

RIOT GAMES

VAFC (VALENCIENNES FOOTBALL CLUB)

UCPF

Work highlights

  • Advised Jogo Bonito Group on the acquisition of the entire share capital of Club des Girondins de Bordeaux and the refinancing of its bond indebtedness.
  • Assisted Nike with drafting and negotiating the commercial lease agreement in future state of completion related to its flagship store in Paris.

AyacheSalama

AyacheSalama impresses with its very established sports-related tax practice. Practice head Jacques Messeca has gathered an impressive client list of major sporting organisations as well as athletes, notably professional football players. Messeca’s caseload includes litigation and tax due diligence, for example for for regional football clubs.

Practice head(s):

Jacques Messeca

Key clients

PREMIERE LIGUE

STADE RENNAIS FC

TOULOUSE FOOTBALL CLUB

AS ST ETIENNE

GIRONDINS DE BORDEAUX

PARIS VOLLEY

FC LORIENT

BERRICHONNE DE CHATEAUROUX

CLASSICO SPORT MANAGEMENT

CITIZEN FOOTBALL INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF FOOTBALL

UCPR (UNION OF FRENCH PROFESSIONNAL RUGBY CLUBS)

PARIS SAINT GERMAIN (PSG)

TOTAL DIRECT ENERGIE

QSI (QATAR SPORT INVESTMENT)

EUGENIE LE SOMMER

DAVID LUIZ

LZ SPORT

ASO (AMAURY SPORT ORGANISATION)

XL SPORT

GAEL FICKOU

RAPHAEL LAKAFIA

HOUSSEM AOUAR

Bignon Lebray

Having developed an expertise in rugby, Bignon Lebray represents some of the top premiership clubs, defending its players before disciplinary panels. Equally as involved in golfing matters, the firm is the go-to counsel for Golf de Maisons Laffitte. Neil Robertson, who is also a sports agent, leads the practice and acts for clubs, players, and agents, with matters including the drafting and negotiating of employment contracts as well as of services and sponsorship agreements.

Practice head(s):

Neil Robertson 

Key clients

CA Brive

Golf de Maisons-Laffitte

Stade Toulousain

Vivendi

Racing 92 Rugby Club

Work highlights

  • Defended professional rugby player Fabien Sanconnie in a disciplinary hearing before the Federation Française de Rugby.
  • Represented professional rugby player Julien Marchand in a disciplinary hearing before the ECPR.
  • Defended professional rugby player Kurtley Beale in a disciplinary hearing before the Federation Française de Rugby.

Klein Wenner

With expertise in a range of sports, Klein Wenner acts for professional clubs, athletes, leagues and organising committees for international sporting events. The cross-disciplinary practice is composed of public law experts Eve Derouesné and Marc de Monsembernard and IP and digital law specialists Mathieu Bourgeois and Laurent Badiane. François Klein brings three decades of experience in sports law to the table.  

Key clients

Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF)

FC Sochaux

Ligue Réunionnaise of Football (LRF)

Sportfive (EX Lagardère sport)

Fédération française de basket-ball

Work highlights

  • Assisting an international football player with the promotion of his sport training service offer through the internet and social media in compliance with the GDPR.
  • Conducted a GDPR training campaign for the members of the Union of Professional Football Clubs.

Paul Hastings LLP

Testament to the firm’s expertise in sports law, Paul Hastings LLP counts some of the largest French sports associations as clients. The firm is the go-to counsel for leading entities in the French sports sector for the sale of broadcasting rights. With over two decades of sports law practice under his belt, Jean-Louis Martin has a strong reputation in the field.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Louis Martin

Testimonials

‘The team dedicated to our projects within Paul Hastings is headed by Jean-Louis Martin. We appreciate the extreme technical competence, major sector expertise, the availability, commitment, and ability to listen.’

Key clients

Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR)

Mediapro

European Club Professional Club Rugby

Upswing