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Who Represents Who

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The large and cross-disciplinary team at Brabners LLP continues to advise various entities including international federations, national governing bodies, clubs, player/athlete unions, agents and intermediaries as well as individual sportsmen and women. The skilled team also advises sponsors, broadcasters, new media and merchandising licensees. It is acting for new client The Commonwealth Games Federation on various matters including on its relationship with a leading, fully integrated, sports marketing and entertainment agency. In other highlights, the team acted for LEN and its President Mr. Paolo Barelli in contesting various decisions made by FINA (the International Federation and World Governing Body for aquatic sports) related to the determination of complaints that had been made by LEN and Mr Barelli about the conduct of certain senior officials of FINA and their interference in the independent election process of LEN. In other matters the department has advised a number of football clubs on their responses to Clive Sheldon QC’s independent review into historic child sex abuse in football. Maurice Watkins and Lydia Edgar are highly regarded.

Centrefield LLP  is recommended for its work across a range of sports including rugby, swimming, golf, triathlon, cricket and cycling. It is ‘particularly active and strong at representing football clubs’. The ‘specialist team’ advises a host of individuals, intermediaries and high profile sporting organisations including player associations such as PFA (football) and RPA (rugby union) and their members. The firm is regarded as one of the pre-eminent practices in football and regularly represents three quarters of all the Premier League clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Newcastle United and Watford. In addition the team has acted for a number of football clubs internationally across Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania. The department acted on football transfers worth over £500m in the summer of 2017 transfer window. Matthew Bennett  is ‘the ‘go-to’ person for regulatory work’. Bennett advises on complex and high value international player transfers, high profile disciplinary cases as well as on the resolution of disputes at an international level. The ‘well-regarded’ David Bentham  specialises in the commercial aspects of sport such as advising on sponsorship agreements, endorsements and venue agreements. Associate Deirdre McCarthy  is ‘very conscientious and thorough’.

The ‘highly regarded’ John Burns leads the team at Gateley Plc  that ‘has the depth in the team to really support clients’. The ‘excellent’ Stephen Roberts has advised sports organisations and NGBs on a range of governance issues. Senior associate Nick Murrills  focuses on sports litigation and defamation/reputation management. The group is particularly well regarded for brand licensing, sponsorship and general commercial contract work as well as for its work on stadium development. It acts for six premier league clubs and is acting for Bournemouth FC to advise on the construction contracts for its new training facilities which will include ten full-size pitches, three junior pitchers, an indoor artificial playing surface as well as state-of-art medical, fitness and rehabilitation facilities. The department has also been instructed by Brighton and Hove Albion FC on various commercial matters.

The ‘outstanding’ Mark Hovell  at Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘great for international arbitration work and is a vastly experienced lawyer’. He heads the sports team and is a noted arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport where he is known for his ‘very robust judgments’. Overall the team is ‘absolutely top-class’. Caroline Couse heads the Latin American desk and is experienced in football regulatory and commercial matters. Couse has a wide range of clients with a particular focus on Hispanic clients. Other areas of expertise include advising on women’s sport and on doping cases in football. The group represented Accrington Stanley footballer Patrick Lacey who failed an anti-doping test for cocaine. He was facing a four year ban from the sport. The firm did its own advocacy and managed to reduce the penalty to a 14-month ban instead. The department also acted for Wigan Rugby League Club Limited as it had been charged by the RFL with refusing to play a match. The matter was heard before the RFL and the team was successful in getting the fine and other penalties quashed.

Julian Diaz-Rainey at Pinsent Masons LLP  has extensive experience in sports-related litigation and arbitration as well as governance and regulation issues in sport. His main expertise lies in football and he represents leading premier league and football league clubs as well as a host of major premier league players, governing bodies and agents. Diaz-Rainey has acted for major football clubs, sporting bodies and leading individuals on a range of matters from contractual disputes, disciplinary proceedings to sponsorship agreements. Samantha Livesey  advises on technology and digital rights in addition to wi-fi and data privacy issues for sports related clients. Livesey has also brought on board a number of new retailers who are operating in the sportswear industry. The team continues to advise The Jockey Club on various sponsorship matters. The club owns and operates 15 of the UK’s most famous racecourses (including Aintree, Epson, Cheltenham and Sandown Park). Andrew Mitchell  is a senior associate who specialises in contentious sports matters. He has experience in a broad range of sports such as football, cricket, rugby league, athletics and motor sport. Jo Seed  who is also a senior associate has extensive experience on a wide range of sports including motor sport, football, horse racing and cricket. Manchester City Football Club/City Football Group Limited, Leeds United FC Club, Regatas Vasco De Gama FC and The English Football League are significant clients.

Adelphi Sports Law  is ‘fantastically expert in football in both litigation and non-contentious advice. It is really making a name for itself in reputation management, defamation and injunction work’. The ‘commercially astute’ Paul Fletcher ‘gets good results for his clients and is highly experienced in sports law litigation’. The group is best known for advising football intermediaries/agents and their players on matters including sponsorship and endorsement agreements, player transfers, image rights structures and other areas such as regulatory issues and media crisis management. Fletcher has a particular focus on football but he also provides advice in other sports such as rugby, cricket, darts, tennis and snooker as well as golf.

Jan Levinson heads a multi-disciplinary team at DAC Beachcroft LLP, which provides a wide range of commercial services to an ever-growing portfolio of sports clients. It advises on issues such as employment and contractual matters to sports stadium issues and corporate finance. Senior associate Andrew Martin  is also recommended. The group continues to act for Manchester United and has advised it on issues such as variations to the club’s premises licence. It has also been instructed by Brighton & Hove Albion FC on various matters such as real estate matters and property matters. Sir Bradley Wiggins, ECB Cricket Discipline Commission and National Autograss Sport Association are all clients. The group is also very well regarded for its work in sports injuries.

Hill Dickinson LLP  ’s multi-disciplinary team advises on sports contracts, dispute resolution, disciplinary and regulatory matters, with an increased focus on rights, reputation and brand management issues for clubs, promoters, athletes and ex-athletes. Richard Green and Geraldine Ryan are recommended. The team acted for Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group (a football agency) in a claim for damages against a former employee and football agent involving allegations of breach of post-termination contracts. In another matter it acted for Philip Foden (a Manchester City player and England U17 World Cup winner) in relation to his first professional contract and various sponsorship agreements.

Farleys Solicitors LLP  acts for clients involved in football, athletics, darts, Derny Bike Championships, cycling, short mat bowls as well as golf and boxing. It provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary service mostly to individuals employed in sport but also to bodies and associations. Head of team Daniel Draper is skilled at representing clients before FA arbitrations, football disciplinary commission panels and in applications before the Premier League Board. Draper has also acted for various footballers in contract negotiations with English Premier League Clubs.

Steve Harvey   heads the department at Hillyer McKeown LLP  . The team continues to act for UK Anti-Doping (‘UKAD’) and a host of professional sports clubs, associations and individuals. Bromborough Golf Club, British Judo and New Brighton Cricket Club are also clients.

At JMW Solicitors LLP Mike Blood  and Marc Yaffe are singled out for praise. Ben Peppi now heads the sport services team having joined the team from an in-house position. Highlights included defending Wayne Rooney when he was charged with driving with excess alcohol. The team continues to act for the match commander David Duckenfield and other senior officers in the recent inquest and ongoing criminal proceedings and alleged regulatory offences stemming from the sporting disaster that occurred at Hillsborough in 1989.

Shoosmiths LLP's team is headed by Richard Millington , who joined in 2016 to set up the sports practice after 12 years as a senior in-house lawyer for companies including Nike and Iconix, the owner of the Umbro brand. The team has worked on matters such as advising Lendy Finance on its sponsorship of the Cowes Week sailing event and providing guidance to The Federation of Sports and Play (FSPA) throughout the UK's Brexit negotiations. It also advised a major international sporting analytics company on privacy concerns under the proposed new GDPR regime.

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