At Bird & Bird LLP, the ‘sheer breadth of expertise and experience means you know you will get a product that reflects the best industry practice in the sector’. Practice head Jonathan Taylor’s credentials as a QC position the firm for roles on high-profile and often precedent-setting disputes, and he has chaired external reviews on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Biathlon Union. Max Duthie is a former professional rugby player and highly active in contentious matters, having acted for leading sports organisations on major investigations. Felicity Reeve is the point of call for commercial agreements, with a client base including Arsenal, Chelsea, Six Nations Rugby and the British and Irish Lions. Craig Giles similarly focuses on commercial agreements but mostly involving media rights. Robert Turner, who was recently promoted to partner, is another key member of the commercial team. Andy Danson, whose standout strength is in the gambling sector, is also recommended. E-sports is a particular focus for associate Will Deller, while senior associate Lauren Pagé is a promising name at junior level for sports disputes.
Sport in London
Other key lawyers:
‘The pre-eminent firm for sports regulatory work. Peerless in the breadth and depth of their expertise.’
‘Max Duthie is intelligent, articulate and able to master details incredibly quickly. ‘
‘Has a breadth of knowledge across all areas of sporting integrity and governance. The quality and clarity of the advice given, and the engagement of the client – particularly in relation to understanding the client’s needs – in the process of giving advice.’
‘Jonathan Taylor has an enormous breadth of knowledge and experience on which to rely, and uses it to great effect. Understands the whole picture – from the minutiae to the broader context – better than anyone.’
‘Lauren Page is developing along the same lines as Jonathan Taylor; she has the ability to distil complex issues into clearly understandable advice.’
‘Rob Turner manages his team very well to ensure background knowledge is spread around a number of associates in case one is unavailable for any reason.’
‘The strongest sports regulatory team there is.’
‘Jonathan Taylor QC lives and breathes regulation and arbitration.’
‘The sheer breadth of expertise and experience means you know you are going to get a work product that reflects the best industry practice in the sector.’
‘Max Duthie is always available, understands our world and our needs and is able to loop in the right expertise from the firm where required.’
‘Robert Turner has always done a very comprehensive job on the sponsorship work he has advised on, whilst also always listening to our key issues and bespoke points we want addressing. ‘
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
The Rugby Football Union
The Premier League
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA)
The Football Association and other home football associations
The British & Irish Lions
World Athletics (f/k/a the IAAF)
The International Tennis Federation
- Represented the IAAF in the proceedings brought by Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa challenging the regulations that require athletes with differences of sex development and naturally high levels of testosterone to reduce those levels to the standard level.
- Advising the Premier League on an investigation into the transfers surrounding academy players.
- Advising the British and Irish Lions on all aspects of their tour to South Africa,.
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP's wide-ranging sports law practice works with big names such as The Premier League, the International Cricket Council and Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford. Nic Couchman, who leads the practice, built a strong reputation as name partner of sports law boutique Couchmans, which merged with CRS in 2018 - he is a key name for implementing sports rights for athletes' clubs and associations. Jason Saiban also focuses on commercial issues, most notably in marketing and promotional areas such as sponsorship, merchandising, advertising and event management. Darren Bailey runs the firm’s Integrity Services Unit, a special service offered by the firm whereby clients can receive reviews or rapid responses on issues such governance, investigations, reputation management and anti-doping.
Other key lawyers:
‘CRS leads the field with its full service capabilities and genuine depth across its teams.’
‘Their approach is always commercial and there’s clearly a deep rooted understanding of the sports sector. Jason Saiban’s support for his clients stands out in particular.’
International Cricket Council
Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL)
British Horseracing Authority
Leicester City FC
All England Tennis Club (Wimbledon)
International Tennis Federation
- Advising footballer Marcus Rashford on image rights agreements.
- Advising the Eddie Davies Trust on the insolvency of Bolton Wanderers.
- Advised the International Tennis Federation on the restructuring of the Fed Cup and its arrangement with its host city.
Representing major names such as Chelsea FC, the Football Association and Premiership Rugby, Northridge Law LLP is a highly renowned sports specialist firm founded in 2017 whose services cover a range of corporate, commercial, litigation, competition, employment and gambling matters. Jonathan Ellis is a key name on the contentious side, having represented sporting bodies in High Court disputes and major investigations. James Eighteen is particularly strong in regulatory disputes, most recently represented Premiership Rugby in its landmark dispute with Saracens concerning salary caps. For advisory work, Ian Lynam is adept in handling sports-related M&A, commercial agreements, as well as advising on financial regulation, with a growing focus on sports data. Jon Walters, who stands out for his work in sports governance reforms, is another name of note.
‘They are technically excellent whilst also being commercially minded and user-friendly. Paul Shapiro is across his brief and an excellent strategist – exactly the sort of lawyer you want on your side.’
‘Northridge has a very personable approach and a wide range of knowledge that makes them the ideal point of contact for an in-house team who faces constant time sensitive issues. ‘
‘As a firm they a flexible, tailoring the nature of the advice to our needs and working around our working practices.’
‘James Eighteen has a broad range of regulatory experience and is able to provide advice practical to the issues faced by horseracing, which can be quite unique. The biggest compliment that I could give is that in a moment of crisis he would be the first point of contact.’
‘Jon Ellis’ experience, expertise and knowledge is first rate. One of the best.’
‘Jon Walters – practical and sound commercial judgement. Responsive.’
‘In my experience the team at Northridge have a very wide range of knowledge in the industry that helps hugely when working on my clients and business.’
‘Paul Shapiro understands quickly what I’m looking to achieve and will work within my parameters, which I’m sure he does very effectively with other clients he has. Regardless of how busy he is I feel like a priority client of his. His knowledge and work standards are very high, which is of course essential, but it’s also the way he goes about his business in a very frank but likeable way which has led to a strong level of trust between us.’
‘Leaders in their field. Quality from top to bottom. They know their subject matter, have great attention to detail and fun to work with.’
‘James Eighteen is hardworking, considers all aspects of the problem, mixes controlled aggression with pragmatism. Understated in the very best way.’
‘Ian Lynam is recognised as a leader in his field but for someone who is by background a corporate lawyer he is not only extremely knowledgeable but also gracious.’
‘Jon Ellis is the football litigator par excellence.’
The Football Association
Welsh Rugby Union
The British Horseracing Authority
Rugby Football League
- Advised Premiership Rugby on the landmark proceedings brought against Saracens in respect of breaches of the salary regulations.
- Acted for Chelsea FC in its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport arising from a FIFA decision in respect of the transfer of minors, resulting in a successful reduction in the club’s transfer ban (from two windows down to one).
- Advised PUMA on its global merchandise deal with Formula 1.
Onside Law LLP
Fielding ‘a team of lawyers who know sport and sports law inside out’, Onside Law LLP expertly advises on a wide range of high-profile commercial deals, disputes, sponsorship agreements and events across sports including football, rugby, golf, cricket and tennis, among others. Founding partner Oliver Hunt is one of the leading European lawyers in golf, with clients including the PGA European Tour and the Ryder Cup. He also represents big names in football such as Belgian star Eden Hazard and Crystal Palace FC. Fellow founder Jamie Singer is particularly strong in tennis and rugby, notably acting on high-profile image rights and sponsorship deals. Chris Walsh, who advised on the 2019 Cricket World Cup, is a key name for the firm’s work in dispute resolution and regulatory work. Stevie Loughrey is another key name for disputes, with a strong emphasis on media-related issues such as libel, breach of confidence and privacy matters. Simon Thorp leads on the corporate side and advises on major fundraisings, M&A and joint ventures. Adam Leadercramer, who specialises in digital media, and senior associate Ross Brown, who focuses on corruption and integrity, are also highly recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘Sports lawyers can be viewed as sports fans who happen to practise law. This is not true of Onside Law. The firm’s lawyer are really first-rate lawyers and apply that skill to help their clients achieve their commercial and sporting objectives. ‘
‘Stevie Loughrey is an outstanding partner. He’s charming and a pleasure to work with, and has the added bonus of a first-rate legal brain.’
‘Onside have all of the attributes that make boutique law firms great – focus, in-depth knowledge and an obsessive dedication to their chosen area. It would be hard for me to understand why any sport-related enterprise would ever want to get advice from a mainstream firm when you have an Onside available to you.’
‘True partner-led service. They live for their clients and vice versa. ‘
‘Simon Thorp is genial and smart.’
‘Oliver Hunt is all-hours, all action.’
‘Real strength and depth in this dedicated and bespoke sports law team. Great clients across the sporting industry, who rely on Onside for the best advice possible. ‘
‘Stevie Loughrey is a former professional rugby player who advises insightfully on contentious matters.’
‘Chris Walsh has a forensic knowledge of sport.’
‘Oliver Hunt is a terrifically talented lawyer in commercial disputes.’
‘Senior associate Ross Brown has great experience in independent reviews.’
‘They have real sports law expertise and an understanding of the sector.’
‘Stevie Loughrey is a smart, practical and committed lawyer. He has excellent client skills. ‘
‘Onside have a team of lawyers who know sport and sports law inside out. They are great to work with and very impressive. ‘
Cricket World Cup 2019 Limited
British Telecommunications PLC
England and Wales Cricket Board
British Horseracing Authority
Welsh Rugby Union
World Snooker Limited
Lawn Tennis Association
Red Bull Racing
West Ham United
Golfers including Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Matt Fitzpatrick, Matt Wallace, Danny Willett, Francisco Molinari and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston
London Marathon Events Limited
Fairway Sports Capital Limited
Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA)
United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD)
BWT (Formula 1 Team Sponsor)
Tour Racing Limited (known as Team Sky cycling team)
Sports Recruitment International
Wentworth Golf Club
- Advising on a range of corporate, commercial and IP issues surrounding the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
- Advising Eden Hazard on his transfer from Chelsea to Real Madrid.
- Advising BT on its sponsorship with England football teams, through its deal with the FA.
Manchester-based Centrefield LLP is, for some, ‘the strongest sports law firm outside London’, with a major focus on football and a client base including Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool FC. Matthew Bennett has a strong reputation for advising on high-profile transfers and disciplinary cases, and represents a number of football clubs in the Premier League, MLS and SPL. Stuart Baird has a similar focus, but is also highly skilled in immigration issues. Founding partner David Bentham focuses on commercial agreements and arrangements, and is perhaps best known for his work handling image rights issues. Fellow founder Edward Canty is recommended for his work handling governance matters as well as arbitration.
Other key lawyers:
‘Without question the strongest sports law firm outside London.’
‘Super strength and depth. Talent everywhere. Incredible clients in UK and abroad. ‘
‘Matthew Bennett is one of the outstanding sports lawyers in the UK.’
‘Stuart Baird is an extremely talented lawyer.’
Liverpool Football Club
Manchester City Football Club
Manchester United Football Club
The Professional Footballers’ Association
The Rugby Players’ Association
Major League Soccer
- Advising a range of football clubs and players/agents in connection with transactions during the 2019 summer transfer window.
- Advised the Super League across various areas of its business and operation, including advising on its record breaking title sponsorship by Betfred.
- Advising a range of organisations and individuals on a range of anti-doping related matters, including in relation to failed tests and whereabouts issues/missed tests.
During 2019, DLA Piper advised the Premier League on £4.2bn-worth of international broadcasting deals, underlining the firm’s impressive credentials for high-scale sports media rights work. John Cloke, who led the firm's team on that work, has a strong background in commercial, regulatory and copyright issues. Nick Fitzpatrick is global co-chair of the firm's media, sport and entertainment sector group and is similarly highly skilled in media rights matters, particularly with international deals. He is often assisted by IP and media experts John Wilks and Ruth Hoy. The team also draws upon corporate partners Alexandra Kamerling, who is an expert in merger filings, and Jon Kenworthy, who handles major M&A deals.
Other key lawyers:
‘Probably the top sports law team in London. Huge knowledge and experience in the field. ‘
‘Ruth Hoy is great to work with. Clever, knowledgeable and tactical.’
‘John Wilks is very thorough and absolutely focused on the client’s commercial imperatives.’
‘Excellent knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of sports law, coupled with a recognition of the commercial imperatives of both their own client and the counterparty.’
‘John Cloke is an outstanding technical lawyer and an excellent negotiator. While he possesses a strong grasp of the legal issues at hand, he stands out from other lawyers through his willingness and ability to consider commercial solutions to contractual issues.’
The Football Association Premier League
International Olympic Committee
TEAM (Television Event and Media Marketing AG
Supreme Committee Qatar
- Advised World Rugby on its proposed Nations Championship, under which all current international men’s rugby (outside the Rugby World Cup) would be brought under the umbrella of an annual test championship.
- Advised the Premier League on its international broadcasting deals.
Elite London firm Farrer & Co places a strong emphasis on reputation management and integrity in sports, as exemplified by its recent work for the FA and the England women's national football team during the 2019 World Cup. This example typifies the work of practice head Julian Pike, who is very strong in advising both governing bodies and individual athletes on reputation management, but is also very experienced in regulatory and contractual disputes. Henry Sainty is another key name; he has extensive experience in handling commercial contracts for governing bodies. A growing are of expertise for the firm is advising sports organisations on subject access requests. Tom Bruce and David Hunt are also well-regarded for governance and employment issues respectively.
‘An extremely knowledgeable team not only in terms of what is legally possible, but also what is practical and can be implemented effectively.’
‘They have a deep understanding of the sector and try to make sure their advise recognises any limitations and sets out options to help an organisation find the most suitable solution for their circumstances.’
‘Tom Bruce is the most knowledgeable lawyer in regards to corporate governance issues in the sports sector. He has advised so many organisations, and his detailed knowledge of the sector, coupled with his legal skill, means he is now the go-to person for any governance related issues in the sport sector.’
‘David Hunt is a clear expert on all matters relating to employment law. However his real skill shines through when he is applying his knowledge to different settings, and his advice this year on employment law challenges for referees in sport has been hugely helpful. He provides clarity of thought and leaves you feeling informed and able to make decisions on the best way forward for your organisation.’
The Football Association (FA)
British Olympic Association (BOA)
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
PGA European Tour
International Canoe Federation
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)
Henley Royal Regatta
- Advised the Football Association on important reputation management issues including the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
- Acting for the International Canoe Federation in Court of Arbitration for Sport proceedings against the International Surfing Association, in connection with a dispute regarding the governance of Stand-Up Paddle.
- Advising the PGA European Tour on corporate governance, multimillion-pound joint ventures, and member rules and policies, among other issues.
Another relatively new name to the market, sports boutique Level handles a range of high-profile deals in football such as advising Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey on his move from Arsenal to Juventus, and assisting the Asian Football Confederation with its landmark commercial rights deal with DDMC Fortis. Daniel Lowen worked on Ramsey’s transfer and is an expert in talent management issues such as transfers, image rights and commercial campaigns. The latter deal was handled by Dan Harrington who is an expert in the acquisition and sale of commercial rights. The hugely experienced and highly regarded Morris Bentata has a similar focus on sports broadcasting, as well as on data and marketing rights. Also recommended is Fraser Reid, who represents a number of high-profile athletes, most notably on sports endorsement deals and player transfers. Broadcast and sponsorships agreement specialist Rowena Samarasinhe is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘Morris Bentata is intelligent, responsive and user-friendly, framing the relevant legal and commercial points clearly and concisely. Value for money in an increasingly expensive market. ‘
‘Morris Bentata is fully committed and dedicated. Very service-oriented and available 24/7.’
‘We have delivered strategic projects with Dan Harrington over the last years, where he contributed to provide his legal expertise to build knowledge and capabilities for the organisation.’
‘Experience, proactiveness, and honesty. Level offers a refreshingly different type of legal service, where work is carried out at a senior level by experts in their field rather than an initial interaction with a ‘name’ partner and subsequent work carried out at a junior level. ‘
‘They are open-minded, progressive, friendly and most importantly of all, provide outstanding legal support.’
‘Morris Bentata is simply an outstanding sports lawyer. His deep and impressive knowledge of his subject matter is allied with a commercial approach, which allows him to provide advice and support which takes into account the needs of his clients at all times. On a personal level, Morris is a pleasure to work with. Friendly, diligent and extremely hard-working, I can’t recommend him highly enough.’
Asian Football Confederation
Robbie Lyle and Tao Weitzer (Arsenal Fan TV)
Sunset & Vine
European Championships Management
- Advised Aaron Ramsey (and his agent, Avid Sports & Entertainment) on his move from Arsenal to Juventus.
- Advised the Asian Football Confederation (the governing body for football throughout Asia) on all of its non-contentious and contentious legal matters throughout 2019.
- Advised a leading OTT sports broadcaster on multiple rights acquisitions for premium sports properties all over the world.
Representing household names such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Rugby Football Union, Lewis Silkin LLP provides a full service to sports clients, handling general corporate and commercial matters, transfers and exits, immigration issues, IP, dispute resolution and data protection. Alex Kelham jointly leads the practice and focuses on sports marketing issues such as IP and advertising. Fellow practice head Andrew Osborne specialises in immigration and has been very active in advising on the impact Brexit will have on player transfers and feeder clubs. Other key members of the team include employment expert Jonathan Carr, corporate lawyer Karish Andrews and Jeremy Summers, who focuses on commercial and IP matters.
‘A very approachable team. We have built strong relationships over the years. They are always keen to help and we have always had a positive outcome in all matters that we have dealt with them on.’
‘Extremely professional with a wealth of knowledge and have always found solutions to problems we have presented to them. We have trust in them, which is key to the successful relationship.’
‘The team is a market-leader in employment issues, both day to day and for larger, more complex matters.’
‘The quality of the partners in this area is excellent.’
‘Very knowledgeable in the sector. Very friendly and easy to approach; they offer great practical advice.’
‘Alex Kelham is very knowledgeable and always on hand to help out.’
‘Andrew Osborne is very knowledgeable – clearly a leader in his field, and gives you comfort that you are getting the best advice out there.’
‘Lewis Silkin has always been very strong in sport, both in lucrative professional sport and also publicly funded sport. It has a wide range of talent: contentious and non-contentious, domestic and international.’
‘Alex Kelham is particularly talented at brand protection and publicly funded sports.’
‘Karish Andrews is a leading figure in corporate deals in sport, in particular financial regulation and rights.’
‘Andrew Osborne is the leading partner domestically on immigration-related issues in sport.’
The Arsenal Football Club
Chelsea Football Club Limited
Rugby Football Union
Ladies Professional Golf Association
Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club Ltd
Fulham Football Club
Northampton Rugby Football Club (Northampton Saints)
OCP Madison Holdings/Madison Sports Group Limited (Owner of Six Day Cycling Series)
Base Soccer Agency Limited
- Advising the Rugby Football Union on a wide range of employment law matters from routine advice through to highly sensitive and strategic matters.
- Advised on the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s joint venture with the Ladies European Tour and advised on all related matters from corporate, commercial and IP to employment and real estate.
- Advised Three on its shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC.
Pinsent Masons LLP
2020 has been a standout year for Pinsent Masons LLP, having been selected by World Athletics as its first official supplier of legal services, largely owing to its diverse skillset and international network. 'Well connected' practice head and former AFC Bournemouth chairman Trevor Watkins works on a wide range of sports-related legal matters, with a particular focus on commercial, governance and dispute resolution. The firm's Manchester office is home to Julian Diaz-Rainey, who is known for his work on football disputes, and Samantha Livesey, who is particularly interested in the commercial and technology aspects of equestrian sports.
‘In the transactional space, the Pinsent Masons team is peerless – led by Trevor Watkins with a fabulous ‘black book’, they are involved in practically all the deals in the market. Their real estate group is also top-rated in my view, advising on a host of stadium deals and planning consents.’
‘Trevor Watkins and his team bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the sporting and commercial landscape. They have done a great job on numerous complex issues over the years and most of all haven’t been afraid to offer straightforward common sense rather than expensive legal advice on a number of occasions.’
‘Trevor Watkins leads the team and has been fantastic on explain complex issues to all my team coupled with a huge amount of common sense.’
‘Very approachable and amicable, they understand the value of pro bono work to develop a relationship and see the bigger, long term picture. Standout partners would be Trevor Watkins and Julian Diaz-Rainey.’
‘They are more than just a law firm and that’s why the firm is the first port of call for any legal or commercial issue.’
‘Trevor Watkins has a wealth of in-depth knowledge about the sector. Full scale support across all business areas sets them apart from the traditional ‘sport’ team. Employment, commercial, disputes and public policy all get picked up seamlessly.’
‘Trevor Watkins is seemingly always available, very well connected and generous with his time for all members of our team.’
Jockey Club Racecourses Limited
World Athletics (formally known as The International Association of Athletics Federations – the IAAF)
Yorkshire 2019 Ltd
The English Golf Union Limited
Scottish Rugby Union Plc
WMG Management Europe Limited
The Football Association
English Football League
- Obtained a permanent, anti-trespass injunction for Jockey Club Racecourses Limited barring ticket touts from selling tickets on Cheltenham Racecourse premises.
- Advising Fulham Football Club on its pioneering Riverside Stand redevelopment proposals at Craven Cottage including development over the River Thames.
- Acting for Yorkshire 2019 Ltd on all aspects of the 2019 UCI Road World Cycling Championships in Yorkshire including the commercial, operational and post event issues.
Squire Patton Boggs has been a longstanding relationship with Chelsea FC, most recently working on its investigation into allegations of historic sexual abuse. This was led by disputes specialist Stephen Sampson, who regularly acts before sports tribunals and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Stuart McInnes is another experienced arbitrator whose reputation spans further beyond the UK, having recently been appointed as Chairman of the Ordinary Division of Qatar Sports Arbitral Tribunal. On the non-contentious side, the team regularly advises on major football club sales and acquisitions, primarily led by Mark Yeo and Birmingham-based David Hull. Charlie Frost, who advises on employment matters, also works from the firm's Birmingham office.
‘Squires has a long tradition of acting in high-profile sports matters. They are a go-to practice for sports, particularly in contentious matters and M&A. ‘
‘Stephen Sampson is one of the market leaders for contentious work in sport. He knows all the issues and is extremely hard working. He is a great person to have on your team and a difficult opponent to face. Particularly strong in football related matters.’
Sheffield Wednesday FC
United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
International Tennis Federation
Renault Sport Racing
International Entertainment Corporation
Aston Villa FC
Blackburn Rovers FC
- Assisted Charles Geekie QC in the preparation of the report, published in August 2019, into historic sexual abuse at Chelsea Football Club.
- Defended World Sailing regarding antitrust inquiries by the Italian Antitrust Authority and the European Commission in connection with the selection of sailing equipment for the Olympic Games of 2024.
- Advised Renault F1 on a wide range of UK employment matters.
Based in Manchester, Brabners LLP has a multi-disciplinary sports practice which represents major sporting bodies, clubs and well-known athletes. Sports sector head Lydia Edgar's standout strength is in employment; she handles a wide range of work for sporting bodies, federations, clubs and individual athletes. She works in tandem with senior partner Maurice Watkins, who advises on a range of weighty commercial and regulatory matters, drawing on his significant experience as a director of Manchester United and former chairman of Barnsley FC. Jason Smith has a similar focus as Watkins on commercial sports law but especially stands out for his strengths in international rights and licensing matters.
‘The Brabners team is close-knit with a range of experts in each particular field available to advise on any situation I have needed. The access and response are always fast.’
‘Andrew McGregor has been excellent in everything I have ever asked of him. He is extremely knowledgeable and applies the law to the finest detail. He is always available at whatever time I may email or call him. I cannot thank him enough for the work he has carried out on my behalf.’
‘Specialists in football club and agents work. Great all-round talent in commercial disputes, employment, regulatory and technology.’
‘Lydia Edgar is a versatile and reassuring partner; she is particularly accomplished in employment-related sporting disputes.’
‘Andrew Macgregor is a standout individual for football related disputes, in particular involving clubs and agents.’
Liverpool Football Club
Triple S Sports and Entertainment Group
Wasserman Media Group
Leicester City Football Club
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club
Lawn Tennis Association (‘LTA’)
Barnsley Football Club
Football Ventures (Whites) Limited
- Advised Triple S Sports on the transfer of its client Harry Maguire from Leicester City FC to Manchester United.
- Advised Football Ventures in relation to the insolvency of Bolton Wanderers.
- Advised the Lawn Tennis Association on general advisory matters.
Clifford Chance LLP's footprint in the sports sector is largely down to commercial litigator Christopher Yates, who recently successfully acted for VB Football Assets on its high-profile dispute over the ownership of Blackpool FC. He is also highly skilled in contentious issues surrounding regulations and anti-doping. The team also handles non-contentious corporate work through Tim Lewis, who continues to advise Kroenke Sports & Entertainment on its interests in Arsenal FC; he was recently added to the Premier League club's board as a non-executive director. Jennifer Mbaluto, who focuses on M&A and TMT matters, is also recommended.
‘The firm’s advice is timely, logical, innovative, nuanced and always delivered with enthusiasm, clarity and good humour. It has added value at every step.’
‘The individuals have been highly focused, perceptive and insightful at every stage combining outstanding legal advice with a strong human element. ‘
‘They have sought innovative and creative solutions to complex issues and brought all parties on a collective journey with them.’
Arsenal Football Club
Centre for Sport and Human Rights
E Stanley Kroenke and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
International Paralympic Committee
Invictus Games Foundation
Pakistan Cricket Board
Real Madrid FC
Sport Resolutions anti-doping panel
UK Football Association
Valeri Belokon (President of Blackpool Football Club)
VB Football Assets (minority shareholder in Blackpool Football Club, co-owned by Valeri Belokon, President of Blackpool Football Club)
21st Century Fox
- Advised VB Football Assets on its enforcement actions against the former majority shareholder of Blackpool FC.
- Advised The Invictus Games Foundation on its IP and commercial strategy.
- Advised the International Paralympic Committee on proceedings against athletes who tested positive for illegal substances.
CMS has continued to build on the combined strengths which were brought together by its 2017 tie-up with Olswang and Nabarro. Olswang was well-known for advice on sport image rights, and the merger enabled the practice to draw on expertise across a range of other others areas, covering commercial, regulatory and IP. David Zeffman leads the practice and is adept in handling the purchase and sale of global media rights. Victoria Gaskell is another key name and predominantly advises sports clubs on rights issuing and licensing.
‘Not only do the team have an excellent grasp of the legal position, they inherently understand the practical and commercial impact on clients and are therefore able to provide their advice in as helpful a way as possible.’
‘John Enser is one of the go-to people on broadcast and digital matters. An excellent legal brain and extremely good at explaining complex legal issues to clients in a relevant and meaningful way.’
International Cricket Council (ICC)
Pitch International LLP
Union Des Associations Européennes De Football (UEFA)
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (Wimbledon)
Sports Information Services
The Queen’s Park Football Club Limited (QPFC)
- Advised the International Cricket Council on its latest digital content rights tender process, which saw Facebook become the exclusive digital content rights partner in the Indian sub-continent.
- Acted for UEFA on anti-piracy work.
- Advised longstanding client the All England Lawn Tennis Ground (All England), which owns the tennis courts, grounds and buildings on which the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships are staged, on its acquisition of The Wimbledon Park Golf Club for approximately £65m.
Fladgate LLP has a strong track record of in commercial and finance work for sports clients including Major League Baseball and Surrey Cricket Club. James Earl leads the practice and focuses on the aforementioned areas, often working on cross-border mandates involving the US, Australia and Asia. TMT work is another key area of focus for the team, most notably through Alex Haffner’s expertise in handling media rights deals as well as Mark Buckley’s skillset in contentious IP. Alan Wetterhahn, who focuses on transfers and commercial arrangements, is also recommended.
- Advised Major League Baseball on its events in London.
- Advised Surrey Cricket Club on hosting The Hundred.
- Advised Monster Energy on its sponsorship agreements with several Premiership teams.
Harbottle & Lewis LLP’s core areas of focus include sports marketing, technology and reputation management. Bob Mitchell helms the team and is particularly active in sponsorship and sporting events agreements, as well as on regulatory and disciplinary issues. Michael Lister is also heavily involved in sponsorship agreements, and has acted for companies outside of sport such as Nissan and Pokémon on their sponsorships of sporting events. Dalton Odendaal was formerly head of legal: commercial for the London Olympics, and as such is highly skilled in advising on all types of commercial arrangements relating to events.
‘The team have a great depth and breadth of experience in the sports space. They are able to blend deep legal knowledge with an understanding of how brands work and the challenges they face, in order to deliver the right outcomes. ‘
‘Michael Lister is always available; he has extensive experience across a range of sports and a really positive can-do attitude. The advice he has given us in several different scenarios has been invaluable and in instances where we have had to work with in house legal teams.’
‘Besides being highly experienced in the sports industry and doing an exceptional job for us, they have the inimitable capability to explain complex legal topics in a language which makes them understandable/comprehensible for us as a commercial team.’
‘Michael Lister and Sam Purkiss have a really professional way of working, responding quickly to new challenges with high-quality assessments. And all this in an exceptionally pleasant, friendly and cooperative way. I very much appreciate their behaviour in negotiations – resolute in execution, gentle in manner. Which fits perfectly to the spirit of our team.’
Ladies European Tour
Nissan and Nissan Formula E
Team England Player Partnership
Santa Rita Wines
Professional Cricketers’ Association
- Advised England Hockey on the negotiation of a co-operation agreement relating to the provision and development of an innovative temporary portable hockey pitch system.
- Negotiated the commercial and employment terms for Team England Player Partnership (England cricketers) relating to a significant rise in revenue to be assigned to England cricketers during the next five years.
- Advised Nissan and negotiated the terms of a sponsorship extension agreement with the City Football Group, as part of which Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola became a personal ambassador of Nissan.
K&L Gates LLP
K&L Gates LLP’s international network makes the firm a popular choice for global sporting names such as WWE, PUMA and DFL Sports Enterprises. The team is highly experienced in commercial, regulatory and events management matters, with a strong emphasis on increasingly relevant areas such as data management and virtual advertising technology. Warren Phelops, who leads the team, has a strong track record in advising on domestic and international sporting events, as well as on general rights issues and regulatory compliance. He is also skilled in disputes and sits as a director of the Sports Disputes Resolution Panel. He supported by the 'superb' senior associate Michael Llewellyn.
Other key lawyers:
‘Very confident and very professional they think outside the box. ‘
‘Warren Phelops and Michael Llewellyn are superb and commercial; as well as being great lawyers. ‘
‘Warren Phelops has a unique position at the heart of the sports industry. He is trusted by all areas of the industry and acts as both confidante and lawyer. The practice has developed around his unparalleled network and professionalism.’
‘K&L Gates’ attention to detail leaves nothing to chance, while balancing the needs of time pressures and real world counter-party impact.’
‘Warren Phelops is a hands-on partner who collaborates to help frame and establish the key objectives for any transaction or relationship so both parties are working towards the same common goal. This goes a long way in building the bonds between our company and our clients/partners during this process, avoiding debilitating combat between parties is a real value add we get from Warren and his team.’
‘Mike Llewellyn does all the heavy lifting, long hours and amazing attention to detail. I simply cannot say enough good things about Mike, his work ethic, his dedication and his capabilities.’
‘The team’s comprehensive understanding of both law and business have been a clear advantage for my company. Warren Phelops’ business insight and creative, practical advice are invaluable to my business and without peer. ‘
DFL Sports Enterprises GmbH (Bundesliga)
Arena Racing Corporation and The Racing Partnership
European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL)
Cricket West Indies
Henry Birtles Associates
Sony Pictures Network India
- Advised Arena and The Racing Partnership on a litigation relating to the infringement of the rights in racing and betting data from racecourses owned by Arena.
- Advising Supponor in relation to licensing arrangement for the use by Mediapro of its virtual advertising technology for use at Spanish sporting events.
- Advised Cricket West Indies on a wide range of commercial arrangements, including sponsorship, ticketing and media rights matters.
The team at Mishcon de Reya LLP is well-known for its work on transactions and commercial agreements. Managing associate Simon Leaf now leads the team following the departures of former practice head Liz Ellen and associate Stefania Genesis, who left in early 2020 to found their own sports advisory boutique. Leaf has been building a strong reputation through his work with Barry and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Lewis Cohen advises on commercial matters for clients including football clubs, governing bodies, sponsors, promoters and rights owners.
Other key lawyers:
‘Mishcon de Reya are by and large one of the best law firms I have had the pleasure to work with. Top-notch professionals with deep knowledge and expertise in their respective areas.’
‘Mishcon de Reya are always there when you need them, but what sets them apart is that they are also always there when you don’t. This is exactly how a client relationship should be and I can only wish that other professional service providers would have the same approach vs. being there mainly when “chargeable hours” are on the table.’
‘Simon Leaf is outstanding; his work is impeccable, to the point and with clear advice on what can and cannot be done.’
‘The firm has partners and associates across different departments, which ensures the firm can provide specialist knowledge (for example in commercial, dispute resolution, employment, immigration and corporate).’
Castore / J Sporting Club Ltd
Birmingham City Football Club Plc
Rugby Football Union
Matchroom Sport Limited & Matchroom Boxing Limited
Professional Darts Corporation
Tennis Integrity Unit
World Snooker Limited
- Advised Sport Pesa on a number of their most important commercial and sponsorship-related contracts.
- Advised British, premium sportswear brand Castore on its major endorsement/partnership agreements with Sir Andy Murray and his brand management company 77 Management.
- Advised Golfbreaks, market leader in golf travel, on a minority investment in it by the PGA Tour.
Morgan Sports Law
Morgan Sports Law, which has 'unmatched expertise when representing athletes accused of anti-doping violations', has in recent years broadened its scope, and is now handling 'an increasing amount of commercial litigation resulting from other disciplinary processes’. Managing partner Mike Morgan is well-established as a key name in the market for anti-doping disputes, representing athletes in courts and tribunals both in the UK and internationally, while also handling other major administrative matters. Science unit head Richard Martin is also heavily involved in anti-doping work; offering a notable perspective given his degree in genetics. Senior associate Donna Bartley is another key name in the team; she is praised for being ‘relentless in probing the issues' and 'always searching for weaknesses in her opponents' cases to exploit’. The firm has continued to grow in recent years, with equestrian services head Lisa Lazarus launching the firm’s second international office in New York in 2020, following the addition of former CAS deputy secretary general William Sternheimer in Lausanne in 2019.
‘The firm has lawyers who speak several languages.’
‘They have very good knowledge of the legal environment for sport and CAS procedures. This is particularly the case for William Sternheimer.’
‘They are for me the standout equine lawyers in showjumping related matters.’
‘The best and most high profile sports clients go to Morgan Sports Law because they have a reputation for excellence, particularly in anti-doping cases. ‘
‘Their practice now extends to managing media and communications matters for their clients, such as defamation and privacy claims, and they have a great reputation.’
‘They deliver outstanding results for their clients and are extremely hands-on.’
‘Mike Morgan is an excellent strategist and very conscientious lawyer who will not miss a single detail. He is highly respected and an excellent litigator and negotiator.’
‘Donna Bartley is a highly experienced associate who has a wealth of experience in handling high profile cases for elite sportspersons. She is extremely reliable and a great client-handler.’
‘Highly recommendable! MSL is without doubt the leading firm in the UK if not worldwide when it comes to anti-doping matters on the athlete side. Their expertise is unmatched and their legal and strategic skill when representing athletes accused of anti-doping violations is absolutely first rate. Their contentious practice outside of anti-doping is also growing steadily and they have recruited a number of talented lawyers giving them deep expertise in a range of sporting disputes. ‘
‘Mike Morgan is the single go-to lawyer when an athlete is accused of an anti-doping violation. He stands head and shoulders above everyone else in the field. His tactical awareness and understanding of the science is deeply impressive. ‘
‘Morgan Sports Law, as the name implies, has a focus on sports law. This sweeps up a number of different fields, however, and the team handles an increasing amount of commercial litigation resulting from anti-doping and other disciplinary processes.’
‘Donna Bartley leaves no stone unturned in her effort to achieve the best results possible for her clients. Donna is relentless in probing the issues and is always searching for weaknesses in her opponents’ cases to exploit.’
‘Mike Morgan is very highly regarded for his knowledge and experience.’
‘In matters which requires the expertise of a very experienced international sports lawyer, Mike Morgan is our go-to person, whether it involves anti doping or administrative matters. ‘
‘Donna Bartley proved to be the most compassionate and diligent lawyer that we could have ever wished for in leading our case, and her open sincerity in going through all matters led to us being left with a full understanding relating to the case at all times. She was continually on hand to answer any questions and worked tirelessly to present the case in the most transparent way possible. I would have to describe Donna as the most empathetic and hardworking person I have had the privilege to meet.’
Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels (“FIFPro”)
Olympiacos S.F.P. B.S.A.
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association
Mamadou Sakho and MS Top Limited
Dillian Whyte (WBC Interim World Champion – boxing)
The Scottish Football Association
The Royal Endurance Team of Bahrain
Al Wathba Stables
Sofia Abramovich (International showjumper)
Nicole Walker & Equestrian Canada
- Acted for British heavyweight professional boxer, Dillian Whyte, in securing the withdrawal of anti-doping charges issued by UK Anti-Doping.
- Acting for Mamadou Sakho and MS Top (Sakho’s image rights company) in relation to their negligence and defamation claims against the World Anti-Doping Agency.
- Successfully advised the Royal Endurance Team of Bahrain in the dismissal of an equine anti-doping case.
RPC is the commercial law firm of choice for Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, and deals with a wide range of commercial, regulatory, contentious and technology-related issues. Jeremy Drew, who leads the team, is highly experienced in both general commercial litigation and advisory matters, but is also very active in areas where sports and technology overlap such as e-sports, data management and online betting. Associate Joshua Charalambous assists Drew on most matters and similarly works on a broad range of matters in both contentious and non-contentious sport. Tax disputes specialist Adam Craggs also acts for the firm’s sports clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘What particularly impresses me is that they have huge specialist knowledge of the industry, but that is not at the expense of excellent skills at managing general commercial litigation. ‘
‘The judgement of the partners and their responsiveness to client needs is particularly notable. They are highly experienced litigators, with great judgement (worn lightly), and exceptional client management skills. ‘
‘Joshua Charalambous is a star lawyer in the making.’
‘Josh Charalambous is very mature, the complete package.’
‘They are fearless in every given situation.’
‘Jeremy Drew sets himself apart from anyone in this industry. He is polite, prompt and thoroughly professional in his approach with his clients. His reputation is fully deserved.’
‘The RPC sports team is dynamic and talented. Its members have a real breadth of knowledge across many areas of sports law. They forge excellent relationships with the client.’
‘Jeremy Drew is very intelligent but commercially savvy. Very experienced in many areas of sports law.’
‘Joshua Charalambous is a real rising star in the sports law arena. Very talented. Extremely conscientious and knowledgeable.’
Newcastle United FC
Facebook / Instagram
Flutter Entertainment (owner of PaddyPower Betfair)
Dreams (sponsor of British Olympic Association)
- Advised Sports Direct in the long-running dispute with Rangers FC concerning football kit supply and retail arrangements.
- Advising sports betting operator, VBet, on all aspects of its innovative global partnership agreement with Arsenal FC.
- Acting for Newcastle United FC in response to the football industry-wide investigation into player transfers and the roles of agents and agents’ fees.
TSC Legal is incorporated within The Sports Consultancy group and focuses exclusively on sports law, with particular strengths in events bidding and hosting as well as sponsorship agreements. Ashley Blake leads the team and focuses on the aforementioned areas, while also being highly skilled in image rights issues and commercial partnerships. Sponsorship specialist Andy Korman is another key name and has acted for household names such as the Premier League and the Six Nations. David Becker is a former head of legal for the International Cricket Council and is an expert in commercial agreements, not just in cricket but also in football and golf.
- Represented the UCI in relation to contracting with host partners for the inaugural Cycling World Championships due to take place in Scotland in 2023.
- Advised European Professional Club Rugby on its process to secure the host city of the European Professional Club Rugby Finals weekend in 2021.
- Engaged to assist in the management of a global tender to secure the entire route of the 2021-22 edition of The Ocean Race.
Based in Leeds, Walker Morris LLP covers the spectrum of corporate and commercial work for a large number of Premier League and Championship football clubs. David Hincliffe has advised on the purchase and sale of major football clubs, most recently acting for Simon Sadler on his takeover of Blackpool FC. He is supported by director Alistair McHenry, who focuses on contentious matters; senior associate Liz Coley, whose standout strength is in handling player transfer and contracts; senior associate Geoff Cunningham, who works on contentious football-related issues; and 'exceptional' senior associate Katie Reed, who deals with football-related M&A.
‘Strength in depth and some real streetwise lawyers.’
‘David Hinchliffe is astute and commercial. He knows the work and the business from top to bottom. ‘
‘Katie Reed is exceptional in the world of professional football and assisting knowledgeably in all aspects of the day-to-day issues of running a football club commercially.’
‘David Hinchcliffe’s football expertise and knowledge surpasses any other law firm partners that I have dealt with in the past.’
‘Geoff Cunningham is always very readily available at any time of the day to offer advice.’
Swansea City FC
Bolton Wanderers FC
Crystal Palace FC
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
Nottingham Forest FC
Scunthorpe United FC
Sheffield United FC
- Acted for Hong Kong based investor, Simon Sadler, during his acquisition of majority shareholding of Blackpool FC.
- Advised Sheffield United regarding two international, commercial partnerships: Al Wefaq Rent a Car and USG.
- Acted for Peterborough Director, Barry Fry, with respect to a betting charge handed down from the FA during 2018-19.
Armstrong Teasdale, which took over London firm Kerman & Co in early 2021, stands out for its work against ticket touting as well as its expertise in handling commercial agreements for major events such as The London Marathon, Wimbledon and The Ryder Cup. Zane Shihab leads the practice; he is able to draw on strong experience in relation to commercial aspects of major sporting events through his former role as in-house counsel for Wimbledon. James Thorndyke works on the contentious side and particularly reputed for his work against ticket touts, but is also highly skilled in disputes concerning contract and regulatory breaches, as well as disciplinary issues. Consultant Nick Bitel is also highly regarded for his work on commercial sport issues and also sits as Chair of Sport England.
‘A first class service, with excellent lawyers at all levels and peerless client care.’
‘A market leading sports practice.’
‘The team has had particular success acting in connection with Premier League football and Championship Tennis. ‘
‘James Thorndyke is an excellent young partner, with gravitas and experience well beyond his years. A first rate litigator.’
‘They have excellent knowledge of all aspects of our business. Sport is an area that requires broad general legal knowledge as well as specific understanding of the commercial pressures that we face. They simply understand what we are trying to achieve.’
‘They give excellent legal and commercial advice. Nic Bitel, who has a leading position in the sports industry himself, is able to give insight no other solicitor can give. He is backed up by a high quality and charming team who also really understand the sports industry given the experience they have.’
‘They deliver legal advice quickly and provide excellent value for money. When I say that a matter is urgent, they also understand why and get documents turned around quickly. ‘
‘Zane Shihab provides calm advice, getting to the nub of the issue with ease and turning round documents quickly.’
All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Limited (Wimbledon)
Union des Associations Europeennes de Football (UEFA)
London Marathon Events Limited
Rugby Football Union (RFU)
London & Surrey Cycling Partnership (known as RideLondon)
World Marathon Majors
Welsh Rugby Union
Racehorse Owners Association
Pit Stop Brand Consultancy Limited
Miss World Limited
- Advised W Series on its agreement with Formula 1 to host two races for the 2020 Season of the W Series on the undercard of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Austin and Mexico City.
- Advised The All England Lawn Tennis Club on the sale of non-debenture tickets and hospitality to the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
- Advising UEFA on various matters concerning the staging of the 2020 European Championships.
With a client roster including the Commonwealth Games Federation, Football Foundation and the Rugby Football Union, Bates Wells is an established name for representing not-for-profit sporting bodies, particularly in areas such as governance, charity incorporation, tax, funding arrangements and immigration. Thea Longley leads the practice and has acted for nationwide sports governing bodies, sports-related charities, as well as professional and amateur sports clubs. Senior counsel Jane Lougher is another key name and focuses specifically on grant funding for sports bodies. Associate Rebecca Rider is a promising name at junior level.
‘The team are extremely knowledgeable in working with sports bodies and clubs on real estate matters. They are well balanced in terms of the expert areas and distribute the work accordingly. Each lawyer I have dealt with is accessible and always willing to dedicate the necessary time to a matter, in a cost effective way.’
‘Jane Lougher is a fantastic lawyer with great attention to detail. Jane also provides a real commercial understanding to her advice, providing solutions rather than questions.’
‘Rebecca Rider is a diligent lawyer who provides timely and accurate advice on often complex matters. Rebecca is a pleasure to work with and always makes the time to understand the full facts of a matter to be able to provide the best advice.’
‘Thea Longley is compassionate and motivated to support charitable sectors, and is an excellent sounding board on governance.’
England and Wales Cricket Board
Rugby Football Union
Albion in the Community
Lawn Tennis Association
Amateur Swimming Association (Swim England)
Commonwealth Games Federation
- Advising the Football Foundation on its Parklife Project, a fund aimed at developing football hubs in the most deprived areas of the UK.
- Working with The National League Trust (the charitable arm of football’s National League) to offer advice to clubs in the National League on setting up charitable foundations.
- Advising Everybody Sport and Recreation on transforming a former AstraZeneca industrial park into a leisure centre.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is perhaps best known for its work in sports financing for both Premier League and La Liga clubs, but it also has strong credentials for its work on both contentious and non-contentious issues surrounding contracts and media rights. Graham Shear leads the practice and has a broad range of expertise, covering third-party financing, image rights and anti-doping. Other important aspects of the practice include Marcus Pearl’s work in technology and IP, and Marc Trottier’s advice on restructuring and insolvency matters.
‘Competent and highly creative problem-solvers. Engaging knowledgeable and trustworthy.’
‘Graham Shear and Marc Trottier’s creativity and knowledge have a huge value-add; well above any other firm we have used in the sector.’
West Ham Football Club
Rights & Media Funding Limited
MP & Silva
- Acted for Rights & Media and its funders on facilities to Premier League and La Liga clubs.
- Advised Fortress (GB) Limited, a sports technology specialist, on its collaboration with Barclays Plc on a new multi-purpose membership card designed specifically for sports fans.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP’s standout strength is in the field of sports injuries, but the firm also handles a range of other issues for sports clients including commercial contracts, employment, disputes, restructuring, corporate finance and licensing. Manchester-based practice head Jan Levinson is an important figure for sports compensation claims, recently acting for Manchester City Academy prospect Joshua Murray, who suffered a career-ending injury while playing for England’s U16 national football team. The team also features Bristol-based Andrew Allan-Jones, who is adept in contractual agreements, and Tim Ryan, who works from the London office and focuses on commercial and image rights.
‘The team has strength and breadth across all areas of sport, in particular motorsport. ‘
Manchester United Limited
Joshua Murray (ex-Manchester City FC)
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
Lincoln City Football Club
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board
- Advised Manchester United on accessibility issues surrounding the new development at Old Trafford.
- Advised Lincoln City Football Club in respect of police services provided by the police to the club on match days.
- Advised Envision on its joint venture with Virgin’s Formula E team.
Fletcher Sports Law
Manchester-based boutique Fletcher Sports Law advises on a steady stream of newsworthy football matters, including acting for manager Brendan Rodgers on his move from Celtic to Leicester City and defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka on his £50m transfer from Crystal Palace to Manchester United. Managing partner Paul Fletcher worked on both of those deals; he is known for advising athletes and managers on transfers, endorsement agreements and disputes. Football is the core area of focus but the team also represents boxer Josh Taylor, basketball player Ovie Soko and veteran darts player Phil Taylor.
‘Very personable approach , up-to-date information, quick to respond.’
‘Excellent knowledge in sport and football in particular.’
‘Paul Fletcher is knowledgable, calm, smart, informed and quick to respond.’
‘Genuine sports connections and deep understanding of how sports works which puts them apart from other competitors.’
‘Paul Fletcher provided a great service when I was going through the process of selling my business. He was always on the end of the phone for advice and a chat and the process of the sale went very smoothly.’
- Instructed by a group of senior squad members of the England Football Team in relation to the restructuring of the way in which the FA is able to exploit the image rights of the players.
- Instructed by Ovie Soko to advise him in relation to his high-profile signing to London Lions basketball team.
- Advised England striker Harry Kane on a number of endorsement agreements.
McCormicks operates under the leadership of name partner Peter McCormick, who is chairman of the Legal Advisory Group of the Premier League and advises on corporate, commercial, regulatory and contentious matters. He is supported by Philip Edmondson, who is particularly strong in commercial litigation, as well as James Towler, who focuses on corporate and commercial transactions.
‘Peter McCormick has unparalleled knowledge and experience in commercial and sporting matters related to football. He has both wisdom and judgement, which is of immense value to clients. ‘
‘I have recently worked with Philip Edmondson on a high profile football disciplinary dispute. He was very impressive, both in terms of complicated client management and in terms of his legal input. I would not hesitate to recommend him to clients for sporting disputes in the future.’
The Premier League
The Premier League Charitable Fund
Leeds United FC
The Bostik League
Professional Game Match Officials Ltd
Frank Boddy (Shoot Proprietor)
Visit Harrogate (Peter McCormick was the inaugural Chairman)
Harrogate Town AFC
McLaren Formula One
Leeds Rhinos RLFC
Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Robert Jones (Long Mountain Shoot and other shoots)
Liam Botham (son of Sir Ian Botham)
Norwich City FC
- Handling the due diligence and approvals process for The Premier League in applying the Owners’ and Directors’ Test when a proposed takeover of a club or acquisition of a significant interest in a club is to take place.
- Instructed by Leeds United FC to represent a young player, Jordan Stevens, in relation to a high-profile investigation into his betting activity.
- Advising shoot proprietors and others engaged in shooting activities on events and activities.
Mills & Reeve LLP has built a strong reputation for representing major football clubs and players on high-profile matters, most recently acting for Rangers FC in its dispute with Sports Direct concerning replica football kits. Carol Couse led on that particular case; she primarily focuses on commercial and regulatory matters in football. Fellow practice head Mark Hovell also advises on commercial and regulatory issues, as well as on insolvency and governance. He regularly sits as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and has an 'excellent' reputation in the market.
‘Excellent on football regulatory work; the team has few peers in this area. They also have a great understanding of what is happening internationally and are at the forefront of developments.
‘Mark Hovell is a font of all knowledge. The depth of his knowledge of previous decisions is unmatched.’
‘Mark Hovell is a very experienced practitioner. His reputation is excellent.’
‘Mark Hovell is a very highly respected CAS arbitrator.’
The Rangers Football Club
Infront Sports & Media
The Court of Arbitration for Sport
Other football clubs – commercial work (including Everton FC, Huddersfield Town and Luton Town)
SportsTech and Esports
Professional athletes – commercial work (including for Kevin de Bruyne, Steph Houghton (and other Lionesses) and James Milner)
- Advised Rangers on the majority of its international football regulatory matters.
- Representing Daniel Sturridge in relation to proceedings brought by The FA under The FA Betting Rules.
- Advising Infront on its multibillion -pound bid to represent all broadcast, sponsorship and other commercial rights to all international rugby played over a 12-year period.
The Newcastle-based Muckle LLP is a longstanding adviser to a number of major national governing bodies, including The Football Association, England Athletics and Sport England, and has a strong track record of work on commercial and regulatory matters, covering club structures and tax issues. The firm is also retained sole adviser to parkrun Global, which now operates in more than 20 countries around the world, and provides day-to-day advice to the Rugby Players Association. John Devine, who focuses on sponsorship deals, image rights and advertising, leads the practice; he also has expertise in sports charities. Employment and contracts specialist Tony McPhillips is another key figure in the team.
The Football Association
The Caribbean Premier League
Chelsea FC Foundation
The EFL Trust
The Premier League Charitable Fund
Newcastle United Football Club
Durham County Cricket Club
The Rugby Players’ Association
The Football Foundation
- Advised The FA on providing a legal support service to Charter Standard Clubs and 51 County FAs nationally and, from concept to realisation, on the national charitable facilities ‘Parklife’ project.
- Retained sole legal adviser to England Athletics, the national governing body of the sport of athletics.
- Retained sole legal adviser to Caribbean Premier League, a major international televised club cricket competition.
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is the point of call for the League Managers Association and has recently represented managers such as Lee Bowyer and Alex McLeish on libel claims. More broadly, the team advises on general commercial and employment disputes for individual athletes, managers and coaches. Andrew Haywood is notably adept in employment issues, particularly in relation to discrimination and disciplinary issues. The team has been expanded by the merger of Penningtons Manches and Thomas Cooper in 2019; Nick Humphreys is an expert in employment litigation, whereas Richard Marshall focuses on commercial litigation and arbitration. Jeremy Clarke-Williams handles privacy and defamation disputes.
‘Really strong, in particular on the commercial and employment overlap with sport. Involved in some leading manager disputes.’
‘Nick Humphreys is an employment specialist who will get results for managers and backroom staff.’
‘Andrew Haywood is another employment specialist who is very dynamic and user-friendly.’
‘Commercial dispute resolution specialist Richard Marshall is first-rate at financial disputes in sport.’
‘A really talented team. Richard Marshall is a highly experienced practitioner who is always well prepared and is willing to go the extra mile for his clients. He blends that with a realistic approach which makes him very effective.’
League Managers Association
Mahindra Racing UK Ltd
Dave Richardson (cricketer)
Twelve Consulting Group Ltd
Grey Sports Group
Toca Football UK Ltd
I trust Sport
Rathbone Boxing Club
- Acted for the League Managers Association on a claim for breach of privacy against The Daily Record.
- Defended Lee Bowyer from a libel claim by a football agent arising from comments made by Lee Bowyer on Talk Sport radio.
- Representing a former Aston Villa assistant manager who was called as a witness by the Sheldon Inquiry into the allegations of abuse of young footballers.
Sheridans is a media and entertainment specialist firm; its expertise in sports law lies in the areas of broadcasting rights and digital media. Andrew Nixon has a strong focus on technology, digital media, data and e-sports. Daniel Geey is another key name, with a strong record of work on media rights issues.
Sports media rights and regulatory disputes are the key pillars of Simons Muirhead Burton’s sports practice. Practice head Marc Sobol saw an increase in sports rights work in 2019, adding new clients such as ITV, 4Global Consulting Limited and Women’s Sports Group to his current roster. His work typically involves the purchase and sale of media rights surrounding sporting events. Regulatory disputes are handled by Stephen Shotnes, who recently advised Watford FC on its complaint to the Premier League regarding the alleged ‘tapping up’ of former manager Marco Silva by Everton FC.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team has a breadth of experience across a number of fields of litigation, including employment law, meaning they are an up-and-coming force in sports law.’
‘Stephen Shotnes has excellent judgement, fights his client’s corner fiercely and is well respected. ‘
‘Marc Sobol is approachable and extremely knowledgeable. His work is thorough and pragmatic.’
International Hockey Federation
4Global Consulting Limited
The Women’s Sports Group
Zone Golf Limited
Fighters Choice Management
European Professional Club Rugby
Watford Association Football Club
London Irish Rugby Football Club
Total Performance Data Limited
Professional Squash Association
- Advising ITV on the extension and renegotiation of its existing rights to broadcast major horseracing events.
- Advising 4Global Consulting on a sponsorship and services agreement with the organisers of the 2023 Pan American Games.
- Advising the Women’s Sports Group on a media advisory agreement with The Football Association for the sale of media rights.
Corporate powerhouse Slaughter and May is regularly called on for high-profile sports-related M&A and project finance work, most notably advising on the development and financing of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. Practice head Andrew Jolly works on M&A but is also highly skilled in regulatory and corporate governance work. Other notable names in the sports space include David Ives, who focuses on technology and IP, as well as Simon Hall, who is particularly skilled in project and acquisition finance.
Arsenal Football Club
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Rugby Football Union
Everton Football Club
Fulham Football Club
United States Ski and Snowboard Association
Marylebone Cricket Club
Cambridge University Boat Club
Boat Race Company
- Advised INEOS in connection with its acquisition of Ligue 1 football club, OGC Nice.
- Advise on all aspects of Everton Football Club’s new stadium.
- Advising Lendlease Construction Europe on all aspects of their project for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Wiggin LLP has carved out a niche in advising sports rights holders and distribution platforms on the purchase, exploitation and protection of their commercial rights and IP. Ross Sylvester is a key name in this line of work, as well as on its interplay with online betting. Sean James similarly specialises in online content, as does Sarah MacDonald.
‘Wiggin is always extremely pragmatic, reactive and efficient. The mix of flexibility and sharp knowledge of the industry is unique.’
‘Ross Sylvester always gets me the results we need.’
‘A friendly, hard-working and talented team, led by the excellent Ross Sylvester. Sylvester is a talented and commercially orientated lawyer, specialising in rights acquisitions and distribution but willing to provide a broader range of services to an equally high standard. A strong communicator, he is able to explain complex legal and contractual issues to lawyers and non-lawyers alike and his diligence and unfussy approach mark him out as a rising star in the industry. ‘
‘Sean James is highly skilled and experienced in the media and sports sector with an excellent understanding of the underlying business issues which impact on contractual negotiations. He is very responsive and turns around work quickly and effectively, adding real value to the in-house legal team.’
- Advised Caribbean Premier Sports on the acquisition of live coverage of the English Premier League.
- Carried out a range of content acquisitions for DAZN as it continued its push into new markets.
- Advised Racecourse Media Group on their international rights licensing matters, race-day data arrangements
Clintons’ team is led by consultant Mel Stein, who is also president of the Association of Football Agents and as such is uniquely experienced in commercial agreements involving football players. He is currently acting for the association on its landmark dispute with FIFA, which has sought to cap the commissions earned by agents from football transfers. Karim Bouzidi is another key name and specialises in disputes concerning regulations, commercial contracts and media relations.
Other key lawyers:
‘Excellent service in all respects.’
‘The service our company experienced was totally professional and first class.’
‘Our case was dealt with by Karim Bouzidi – the individual service and attention to detail was quite incredible, as was the professional advice we received, which resulted in a satisfactory conclusion for our company.’
Association of Football Agents (UK) Limited
The National League
Didier Drogba Foundation
The Sports PR Company
Joey Barton (footballer)
Barnet Football Club
- Advised in respect of a challenge to the FIFA Council’s proposal to introduce a mandatory cap on the commissions agents can earn with respect to player transfers.
- Advised the sponsorshsip agent SportQuake in the negotiation of sponsorship, and agency and confidentiality agreements.
- Advised The National League on the negotiation and drafting of a new broadcasting deal with BT Sport.
Focusing primarily on corporate and commercial work, Dentons has been involved in newsworthy deals such as advising Saracens on its use of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, as well as advising Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley on the potential sale of Newcastle United. Practice head Richard Barham, who worked on those particular matters, is known for his work on M&A, financing and bidding for major sports events. Senior associate Nick Harrison, who focuses on commercial contracts in both sport and retail, is also recommended - he is based in the firm's Milton Keynes office and is able to draw on experience gained from a number of previous in-house stints.
Other key lawyers:
‘Nick Harrison is a great commercial lawyer. His previous in-house experience is invaluable when advising clients.’
Watford Association Football Club Limited
Science in Sport Limited
Silverstone Circuits Limited
Mash Holdings (owner of Newcastle United)
Esports Awards Limited
Hibernian Football Club
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1
Basketball Entertainment Partners Ltd
Falkirk Football & Athletic Club Limited
- Advising Mash Holdings Limited on the prospective sale of 100% of the share capital in St James’ Holdings Limited, the owner of Newcastle United football club.
- Advising Science in Sport (SiS) on the negotiation of their sponsorship agreement with Arsenal FC to become their official supplier of sports nutrition products.
- Advising Saracens on the drafting and negotiation of a new Partnership Agreement with Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Fieldfisher's cross-disciplinary sports practice is particularly strong in sports technology and fundraising matters. For technology, the team has worked on digital platforms involved in streaming services, virtual reality and fitness technology. The team's fundraising work has involved venture capital raising, reverse takeovers and private equity investment. Corporate finance specialist Patrick Cannon is the key name of note.
Managing partner Matthew Pryke leads the team at Hamlins LLP; he is active in advising on new sporting events, such as short-form formats like Sail GP and Tie Break Tennis, as well as e-sports. He is an expert in advising on commercial arrangements relating to sport, most notably for English Cricket Board in relation to the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Additional expertise includes sponsorships, regulatory issues and player transfers.
‘The firm executes an extremely high level of service and attentiveness with its clients – allied to the extremely high level of excellence – in every single action or decision.’
‘Every element of the process is well-handled, well-communicated and I would not hesitate to recommend Hamlins to other potential clients.’
‘Matthew Pryke responds quickly to any communication, he assesses every situation with impeccable scrutiny and judgement, and has the calmness to find the right path every time.’
‘Matthew Pryke manages to convey the complexity of legal situations and puts his clients at ease quickly, and his work ethic is exemplary. Unlike other law firms I feel like we have a personal touch with Hamlins and an extension of our in-house team.’
‘Matthew Pryke has strong broad legal knowledge and specific industry knowledge. I feel like if we have a problem then Matt will either a) know how to support or b) be honest enough to send us in the right direction even if that means outside of the firm.’
Oracle Racing Inc.
The English Cricket Board
366 Group Limited
Youth Sport Trust
Tie Break Tens
La Liga Lowdown
F50 Racing team
- Advised Team GBR on securing Sir Ben Ainslie as the team’s new skipper.
- Advising the English Cricket Board on commercial arrangements and agreements in relation to the Cricket World Cup 2019.
- Acting for high-profile female footballer, Izzy Christiansen, on her move from Olympique Lyon to Everton FC.
Latham & Watkins took a significant step in the London sports market with the hire of new practice head Patrick Mitchell from DLA Piper in late 2019. Mitchell handles sponsorship and media rights agreements and joins a fast-growing City team with top-tier capabilities across M&A, finance, competition and disputes. Notable clients include the International Olympic Committee and the English Football League.
English Football League
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Dutch Formula One Grand Prix
Silver Lake Partners
F.C. Internazionale Milano
- Advised Silver Lake on its $500m strategic investment in City Football Club Group.
- Advised on a revolving credit facility and term loan in connection with the public-to-private acquisition of Amer Sports (a premium sporting goods company) by Anta Sports (another sporting goods company) and FountainVest.
Sailing is a hallmark of Payne Hicks Beach's practice, which is also has strengths in boxing and motor sports. Jonathan Gatward leads the practice and is an expert in commercial and IP agreements. The team’s contentious work is primarily handled by Hanna Basha, who specialises in representing athletes in privacy and defamation cases, most notably former professional boxer Frank Bruno. Litigator Dominic Crossley, who is also very active in defamation cases, is also highly recommended.
‘A firm reputation in the media world, including for sports personalities.’
‘Dominic Crossley is excellent – a great strategic lawyer and excellent with clients. Hanna Basha is similarly excellent and well respected in the field. ‘
‘Payne Hicks Beach are a highly respected and experienced firm in this area. They have a reputation for excellence and can be trusted to handle complicated cases for very high profile clients. ‘
‘They have quality throughout their team and are all highly personable and a pleasure to work with. They have secured a niche as one of the top tier of firms which appears regularly in the top cases.’
‘Hanna Basha is one of the outstanding litigators in this area. She has a wealth of experience acting for well known individuals, particularly sportspersons, and her courtroom experience is unrivalled. She is very skilled at handling clients and providing high quality advice, and is also always a pleasure to work with.’
‘Excellent strength at both partner and associate level and an ability to conduct media work for both claimant and defendant perspectives.’
‘Dominic Crossley is an excellent partner, who is hugely liked by clients and has the ability to unflappably deal with the most difficult cases. He has a superb ability to combine sound legal judgement with commercial and tactical savvy.’
‘Hanna Basha is an enormously experienced and hugely client-friendly lawyer, who has a great grasp for media related cases and can be relied upon to take the right decisions at the right time.’
- Acting for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in respect of a range of matters, including sponsorship agreements with well known sailing related brands, employment issues and intellectual property matters.
- Acting for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation in relation to a range of matters.
- Acting on a range of projects regarding AI related technologies for DNAFit Life Sciences.
Representing big names such as Chelsea Football Club and British Fencing, Russell-Cooke LLP advises on regulatory matters, disciplinary issues, reputation management as well as the protection of IP rights. Matthew Bosworth focuses on the aforementioned areas; his work as a litigator extends to leading the private prosecutions team as well as possessing Higher Rights of Audience to appear as an advocate in all courts.
‘A wealth of under-the-radar experience as well as high-profile cases. They are discreet and resist the urge to brag about their client base. ‘
‘They advise across the full range of sporting disputes and club ownership issues, as well as doping, real all rounders.’
‘Matt Bosworth is hugely experienced in a range of sporting disputes from boxing to paralympic athletes.’
‘Peter Cadman is the first port of call for a number of Premier League club owners. Astute, tough and uncompromising. No one is as good at handling the media as he is.’
Sky UK PLC
Sport Resolutions UK
Surbiton Hockey Club
Barnes Rugby Football Club
Thames Ditton Cricket Club
Old Elthamians Rugby Club
- Advising Sky on the protection of its intellectual property relating to sports broadcasting/live sports broadcasts throughout Europe.
- Instructed on an ongoing basis to advise Chelsea Football Club and its playerson various matters throughout the year.
- Representing club players from Old Elthamians Rugby Football Club disciplinary proceedings before the Rugby Football Union.
Russells Solicitors stands out for its strength in the sport of boxing, primarily focusing on dispute resolution, employment and reputation management issues. Steven Tregear is a renowned litigator with a strong track record in contractual and copyright disputes. Non-contentious work is primarily handled by Ryan Vince, who is an expert in commercial agreements and corporate transactions.
US firm Winston & Strawn LLP is particularly strong in the application of competition law to sport, most notably involving rights to commercialise as well as rights to compete. Peter Crowther is managing partner of the firm’s London and Brussels offices and is known for his strengths in EU competition law. In a sporting context, this has involved enabling athletes to commercialise their performance in major sporting events as well as advising Paralympians on their rights to be involved in conventional athletics competitions.
‘Peter Crowther and his team produced (pro bono) the best appeal I could have asked for. Within 24 hours of hearing about my case, they were in touch and asking all the right questions. They communicated well, kept me involved throughout, worked efficiently and to a very high standard. ‘
‘Peter Crowther shows unwavering support for athletes in their legal matters, providing first class advice.’
Professional Football Club CSKA-Sofia JSC
Substantial shareholder in Swansea City Football Club
British Athletes’ Commission
General American Capital Partners (GACP) / Bordeaux Football Club
- Advised the British Athletes’ Commission on selection issues, doping allegations and the ability of Olympic athletes to commercialise their performance.
- Represented Bordeaux Football Club on series of receivables sales involving football transfer receivables owed by a number of leading European clubs.
- Advised the American double-amputee track-and-field athlete Blake Leeper on his apeal to compete in conventional races.
Focusing primarily on football and boxing, Brandsmiths has a strong contentious offering, recently acting for a number of Team GB athletes (including Sir Mo Farah) in a sponsorship dispute with the British Olympic Association. Adam Morallee, who splits his time between London and Manchester, acted on that particular dispute and is also adept at handling a range of non-contentious commercial issues.
Sir Mo Farah
Oldham Athletic Football Club
New Era Global Sports
Entourage Sports & Entertainment
Elite Sports Management
YMU Sports Management
Consilium Sports Group
- Acting for a large group of leading British athletes in an action against the British Olympic Association concerning sponsorship restrictions.
- Advised footballer Moussa Dembélé on a number of commercial agreements.
Burges Salmon LLP has a strong footprint in horse racing and rugby, and primarily works on broadcasting sponsorship and competition law matters. Jeremy Dickerson leads the sports and IP team and handles sponsorship, marketing and advertising work. Helen Scott-Lawler, who works on commercial contracts and IP, is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
‘The consistency of service across different specialisms is excellent. My initial interaction was with the corporate team but have received introductions to property, commercial and IP and been delighted with the service received.’
‘A very strong team with good media and sports experience that have been trusted advisers since we founded our business.’
The Racecourse Association
The Queen’s Club
Unicorn Products Limited
Gunn & Moore
Racecourse Technical Services Limited
Play Sports Group
Scottish Premier Football League
Scarlets Regional Limited
- Advising Scarlets Regional in relation to a competition law and contractual dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union over the distribution of funds.
- Advising Racecourse Technical Services in respect of contractual arrangement for broadcast rights and related services in the horse racing sector.
- Advising Virgin Sport in multiple partnership deals, most notably on all aspects of its multi-year agreement with Nike and Virgin Sport’s Hackney Festival of Fitness.
Howard Kennedy LLP is best-known for handling private affairs and family law matters for well-known athletes, combined with a strong commercial offering. Family law specialist Lois Langton has represented athletes on settlements and divorce proceedings, often with a cross-border element. Commercial litigator Fiona Hinds is another key name and has acted for athletes on disputes concerning image rights, employee structures and employee benefits.
- Advising boxer Scott Harrison on his challenge against he British Board of Boxing Control for refusing his licence.
Keystone Law boasts a number of lawyers with strong credentials for disputes concerning equestrian sports and football. Rachel Flynn has a specialism in horseracing and equine sports, offering expertise on the governance of equine authorities, as well as commercial arrangements and disputes concerning horses. Football work is handled by Paul Daniels and Nick Tsatsas, who both share a strong emphasis on employment-related disputes, with Daniels mainly representing managers and Tsatsas advising managers, players and agents.
‘Rachel Flynn brings considerable expertise of someone who knows the racing world from the inside but an energy and determination which was exceptional. She stands out as a strategist by possessing the rare ability to combine expertise with impeccable judgement in litigation.’
‘Great range of knowledge, easily accessible, straightforward to deal with Quick response, sensible approach, depth of knowledge.’
Life Health Foods UK Ltd
Football for The Community (Wales) Limited
Oliver St Lawrence Bloodstock Limited
Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association
The Racing Foundation
British European Breeder’s Fund
- Advised Football for The Community (Wales) on hosting the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff.
- Instructed by the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association’s to review and consider the standard terms for the sale of horses.
- Acted for global food company Life Health Foods on its sponsorship agreement with British Swimming.
Focusing primarily on football and motor racing, Kingsley Napley LLP has expertise in both contentious and non-contentious commercial matters, with a strong emphasis on regulatory work, private client and employment. Litigator Sue Thackeray leads the team and is highly experienced in sports-related disputes, particularly concerning civil fraud. Criminal litigator David Sleight has also defended athletes and other sporting professionals against claims of assault, driving offences and tax evasion.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is streamlined and experienced, allowing it to place an emphasis on client care and take a very tailored approach to each case. ‘
‘The team is able to call upon colleagues in all aspects of law to enable an all round service to be given to sports clients .’
‘Sue Thackeray isno-nonsense in her approach, which is refreshing.’
‘We have instructed Kingsley Napley for a number of years and they have become a key trusted adviser, working with our high-profile clients. ‘
‘Their unfussy pragmatic approach mean that event the most highly charged matters are dealt with in a calm, capable, reassuring manner.’
‘Sue Thackeray is tremendous – she is as formidable as she is fun and is a reassuring presence in the boardroom and the courtroom. Sue’s responsive, practical, strategic input and guidance in the most tense situations is really valued by us. Although Sue is a litigator her commercial acumen is also second to none. Hugely admirable, hugely capable and a joy to work with.’
‘The team were excellent in dealing with the particular issues that I had to deal with. As well as being extremely professional they came across at all times as personable and interested in the issues I was facing.’
‘The team excels in working on big-ticket cases involving high profile individuals, often with an international element. Their client management is excellent.’
‘Sue Thackeray is an excellent lawyer. She is very bright, thoroughly personable and a delight to work with. She is one of the most talented solicitors I have worked with.’
‘This is a tight-knit team with a real collegiate spirit. They are excellent lawyers who are ready to share their complementary talents in the interests of the client and each other. This has enabled the firm to achieve a profile that is the envy of many other firms with an emphasis on sponsorship disputes.’
‘Sue Thackeray is extremely well-connected, particularly in motor sport. She has exquisite client care skills and is able to limit expectations where necessary whilst leaving the client in no doubt that everything possible will be done on their behalf.’
Norton Rose Fulbright has a strong corporate and commercial offering in the sports arena, acting for well-known entities such as Southampton FC, Harlequins and the British Racing Drivers Club. The team is led by Stephen Rigby, an expert in M&A and equity capital markets, and is supported by corporate finance specialist Claire O’Donnell.
Other key lawyers:
Envision Virgin Racing
British Racing Drivers Club Limited
Crusaders Cricket Australia Inc.
Barclays Bank Plc
London Development Agency
Iconix Brand Group
Sportsworld Media Group Plc
Royal Bank of Canada
- Managed McLaren Racing’s international portfolio of trade marks in 2019.
- Advised McLaren in connection with its proposal to become a 50% partner in Bahrain Merida, a professional cycling team competing in the UCI World Tour events.
With an impressive client roster including Six Nations, The FA and Manchester City, Shoosmiths LLP’s Manchester-based sports practice advises on regulatory issues, commercial agreements and disputes. Working at the helm of the team is Richard Millington, who focuses on football, rugby and cricket, and is well placed to handle sponsorship agreements due to his previous role as GC of Umbro.
City Football Group (Manchester City FC)
The Football Association
British Wheelchair Basketball
Federation of Sports and Play
Hampshire County Cricket Club
Association of Sporting Directors
- Advised Six Nations on Project Light, an initiative whereby the nations involved in the tournament pool together their commercial interests.
- Advised the Federation of Sport and Play on how Brexit will impact sport.
- Advised the F1 Grand Prix Drivers’ Association on various issues.
A relatively new sports specialist boutique, Solesbury Gay has attracted clients such as The Football League and the Force India Formula One Team, primarily focusing on commercial, governance and disciplinary disputes. Founding partner Mark Gay is hugely experienced and well-known in the market; he has a track record of High Court and CAS proceedings and is particularly strong in governance disputes. He leads the team alongside fellow founding partner Tom Solesbury, a former Olympian rower who is very strong in disciplinary and employment cases.
The English Football League
Force India Formula One Team
Sam Bird (Formula E driver)
Racing Point F1 Team
Alexander Jacobi/ALJ Promotions
- Advised the English Football League in proceedings against a club for breaching its profitability and sustainability rules.
- Acted for Force India F1 against AMP Advisory & Management Partner in a sponsorship dispute.
- Acted for the Racing Point F1 Team in an arbitration claim brought by Haas Formula in relation to the allocation of prize money.
Stephenson Harwood’s key strength in sport is major insolvencies; the team recently advised on the high-profile collapse of Bolton Wanderers and the sale out of receivership of Blackpool FC. Disputes partner Ben Sigler, who leads the practice. is also skilled in handling fraud claims. Julian Cahn is another key name for insolvency. Other areas of expertise include commercial contracts, sponsorship agreements, media licenses and intellectual property.
Other key lawyers:
‘Julian Cahn is very strong, particularly in sport insolvencies.’
Administrators of Bolton Wanderers Football Club
Receivers of Blackpool Football Club
Trustees in Bankruptcy of Boris Becker
- Advised the administrators of Bolton Wanderers Football & Athletic Company Limited and Burnden Leisure Limited in the widely-publicised administration of Bolton Wanderers.
- Advised trustees on relation to the bankruptcy of tennis player Boris Becker.
- Advised the receivers over the shares and assets of Blackpool Football Club (Properties) Limited, including the shares of Blackpool Football Club, from pre-appointment to the sale of the Blackpool FC in June 2019.
Wright Hassall LLP
Leamington Spa-based Wright Hassall LLP advises on a number of national governing bodies relating to equestrian sports as well as niche sports such as lacrosse, netball and archery, as well as representing local rugby clubs. Richard Lane leads the practice and handles disciplinary and regulatory issues such as equine doping and child protection. He is supported by Nathan Talbott, who also works on regulatory and disciplinary matters.