Sport in North West
Hailed as ‘the leading firm in the North West for sport’, Brabners LLP is known for ‘understanding the business of sport’. Maurice Watkins is a distinguished name with experience of serving as a director at both Manchester United and the Rugby Football League Board; he leads the practice together with Lydia Edgar, ‘the go-to person for employment-related issues’. The team advises sports agencies, international sportspeople, foundations, governing bodies and football clubs on issues including media, broadcasting, governance, event organisation, real estate and regulation. Commercial matters are also a core strength of the group which includes senior associate Andrew McGregor, tipped to be ‘the next star in North West sport law’; he handles a range of disputes and is an expert in football-related rules and regulations.
‘The leading firm in the North West in sport. Real strength and depth in sport. Well-established and understands the business of sport too.’
‘Lydia Edgar is the go-to person for employment related sporting issues. Andrew MacGregor is the next star in sports law in the North West.’
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 on the purchase of the business and assets of Bolton Wanderers Football & Athletic Company Limited (in administration) and Bolton Whites Hotel Limited (in administration).
- Advised Triple S on the world record transfer of its client Harry Maguire from Leicester City FC to Manchester United.
- Appointed by the Lawn Tennis Association for a period of three years to advise its registered coaches, registered official, registered clubs; and county associations.
The three biggest football clubs in the North West - Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City - are all clients of Centrefield LLP, which also advises several high-profile players, including Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold. In addition to football, the team also works with rugby league, rugby union, cricket, swimming, golf, basketball, cycling and esports clients. Matthew Bennett focuses on governance, regulatory, disciplinary and dispute matters in addition to immigration and athlete representation. Elsewhere, David Bentham is a go-to name for sponsorship arrangements, endorsements merchandising and broadcasting while Edward Canty, a specialist in governance issues, recently acted on various anti-doping matters. The trio jointly lead the practice, which also consists of Stuart Baird; his recent work has included several high-profile football transfers.
Other key lawyers:
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, acting on transfers with an aggregate value in excess of £500m in 2019.
- 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.
- Retained as Super League’s legal advisors across various areas of the Super League business and operation, including advising on its record breaking title sponsorship by Betfred.
At Mills & Reeve LLP, London-based Julian Moore leads the sports department alongside Mark Hovell and Carol Couse in Manchester. Hovell is a distinguished arbitrator in the Court of Arbitration for Sport whose clients include Premier League clubs, players’ associations, various professional athletes and the ITF. Couse gears her practice towards the football industry handling a range of regulatory affairs, as well as transfer agreements, player disputes, work permits and UEFA disciplinary matters. Commercial rights, including broadcasting, sponsorship and endorsements, are also a core strength for the team which has carved out a reputation for representing Spanish and Latin American footballers. Several governing bodies and unions also form the client base with sailing, boxing, golf, sportstech and e-sports also serving as industries of focus.
‘Efficient, knowledgeable, excellent coordination within the team’
‘Excellent contact and coordination with Carol Couse and Rachael Somerset, very professional, results-oriented, great client contact’
‘The practice, in general, is very professional. This is a consistency with all staff I have come into contact with. They are professional, experts in their field but also approachable and friendly.’
‘Rachael Somerset is professional and delivers expert advice. She takes the time to follow up and keep in contact and is always available to respond to urgent matters even outside of office hours, so viewed as highly reliable and trustworthy.‘
The Professional Footballers’ Association
Huddersfield Town AFC
White Rose Sports Management
Greater Manchester Sports Partnership
Super League (rugby league)
Professional Golfers Association
International Association of Ultrarunners
Sheffield Wednesday FC
- Acting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport on over 30 cases involving players, clubs, federations and agents all over the world, including inter alia FIFA, the IAAF, WADA, and the Football Association of Ireland. The cases involved a broad spectrum of sports regulatory issues including betting / match fixing, doping, corruption and breach of contract.
- Advising Rangers Football Club on several of its international football regulatory matters, including regarding transfer and employment agreements, work permit applications, training compensation and solidarity contribution disputes with foreign clubs, immigration issues, UEFA disciplinary matters and disputes.
- Produced and negotiated framework commercial agreements in relation to a UK-wide project whereby British Cycling, through funding from Sport England, is working with the tech company, Motitech, to provide exercise bikes in care homes across the UK, with the aim of promoting mental health for residents including those with dementia.
Fletcher Sports Law
Fletcher Sports Law's clients include football agents and intermediaries, managers, brands and players, with England captain Harry Kane and Manchester United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka notable examples. The team advises on player transfers, endorsement agreements, disputes, image rights, regulatory issues and contractual renegotiations. Outside of football, the group is also active on the boxing front in addition to ruby union, rugby league, darts, snooker, cricket, athletics and golf. The firm’s managing director Paul Fletcher leads the department and is supported by Tom Grant.
Other key lawyers:
England Men’s Football Team
Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor
Phoenix Sports Management
- Instructed by the Players’ Committee (a group of senior squad members) of the England Football Team to advise them (and the rest of the England squad) in relation to the restructuring of the way in which The FA is able to exploit the image rights of the players.
- Advising Tottenham and England captain, Harry Kane, on a number of high-profile endorsement agreements over the past 12 months, including Cadburys, Hugo Boss and Samsung.
- Instructed by Ovie Soko to advise him in relation to his high profile signing to London Lions basketball team.
The team at Gateley Plc is ‘very knowledgeable, well-connected and excellent to work with’. John Burns oversees the department, providing expertise in image rights protection and an array of commercial contracts, namely merchandising and sponsorship agreements. Additional key areas of work include hosting, broadcasting and construction arrangements, stadium development work, brand licensing and a wealth of disputes. The team works with Premier League clubs, national governing bodies, sports brands, agents and sportspeople.
Other key lawyers:
‘Very knowledgable, well connected and excellent to work with. They provide strong, sensible, practical advice.’
Racecraft Motorsport Promotion Limited
World Sports Buddy Limited
FGX Sport Limited
The Confederation of Professional Golf
Manchester City FC / City Football Group
Notts County FC
Sport and Recreation Alliance
West Ham United FC
International Netball Federation
Supporters Direct (now Football Supporters’ Association)
British Amateur Boxing Association
Brighton and Hove Albion FC
Pompey Supporters Trust
Sportstar Promotions Limited
FS 3 Racing
British Wheelchair Basketball Association
Bournemouth Football Club Limited
- Providing Sport and Recreation Alliance with a series of webinars and additional materials to support the sport and recreation members for Brexit.
- Advising The Confederation of Professional Golf on an ongoing basis, particularly in relation to the intellectual property issues regarding its recent name change.
- Advising Manchester City on an ongoing basis, including providing a permanent secondee, particularly in relation to sponsorship agreements, international licensing and facility agreements.
The arrival of Stephen Taylor Heath from IPS Law in May 2019 significantly bolstered the sports offering at JMW Solicitors LLP. An expert in both football and boxing, among other sports, he previously served as in-house counsel at Leeds United and has expertise in worldwide media and commercial rights, doping matters and disputes before governing bodies and athletic commissions, both domestic and global. The team, jointly led by Taylor Heath and Ben Peppi, is also well-versed in broadcasting agreements, club acquisitions and takeovers, media and sponsorship deals in addition to defamation, disputes and regulatory matters. Motorsports is also a key sector with the group engaged for driver contracts and personal endorsements.
E Street Investments Limited
Queensberry Promotions Limited
Michail Antonio/Triple MMM Limited
Cheshire Football Centre Limited
Queensberry Commercial Limited
Black Castle Management Limited
Queensberry Promotions Limited – Tyson Fury
NVA Sports and Entertainment Limited
Football Net Global
Blackpool Football Club Limited
- Acted on behalf of E Street Investment in its acquisition of Charlton Athletic Football Club Limited.
- Conducted the multi fight co-promotional agreements with US promoter Top Rank for Tyson Fury and Carl Frampton.
- Represented professional footballer Michail Antonio in a rights agreement with national clothes retailer Jacamo for an advertising campaign on BSkyB which included programme sponsorship.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP supports clients ‘across a broad spectrum of issues in the sport sector’; including regulatory, governance, commercial rights and digital projects while also handling a wealth of contentious matters. Department head Julian Diaz-Rainey, ‘one of the most experienced and best sports litigators outside of London’, focuses on football and has a track record of handling a range of high-profile litigation and arbitration At the junior end, senior associate Andrew Mitchell, reputed for his ‘technical and practical advice’, is knowledgeable of cricket, rugby league, athletics and motor sport in addition to football. He is regularly engaged by governing and regulatory bodies for assistance with reputation management, rules and policies and regulatory matters. Associate Alexander Richardson also stands out for his 'smart and practical' service. Clients include sponsors, venues, teams, major events, competitions and broadcasters.
‘One of the teams for sports law and litigation in the North.’
‘Julian Diaz-Rainey is one of the most experienced and best sports law litigators outside of London. Alex Richardson is a very hardworking and intelligent associate.’
‘They offer advice across a broad spectrum of issues that can come up in the sector. They are always efficient, practical and available – at times it is like working with colleagues rather than external advisers, which is how our team wants to work.’
‘Alex Richardson has been very supportive on a number of issues. Smart and practical advice that gets internal buy-in.’
‘Andrew Mitchell provides technical and practical advice. A real problem-solver.’
‘Trevor Watkins knows everyone in the sector; he is a fantastic lead and gives really kudos on complex matters (especially internationally).’
Manchester City Football Club / City Football Group
The Jockey Club Racecourses
The International Association of Athletics Federations (The IAAF)
The English Football League
Rugby Football League
Liverpool Football Club
Dundee United Football Club
- Conducting, and advising on issues arising out of, a QC-led inquiry into any connections MCFC may have had with the convicted child sex offender, Barry Bennell, and any other anomalous issues.
- Advising England Golf on its licensing and implementation of the new World Handicapping System across golf clubs throughout England.
- Obtained a landmark, permanent, anti-trespass injunction barring ticket touts from selling tickets on Cheltenham Racecourse premises on behalf of Jockey Club Racecourses.
At Brandsmiths, founding partner and practice head Adam Morallee primarily works with football, boxing and motorsports clients. His team's broad caseload includes commercial and regulatory matters, employment issues, sponsorship agreements and image rights. Football-related transactions, including both club and player sales and acquisitions, are also a notable strength, as are anti-doping matters. Both contentious and non-contentious matters are handled for a client roaster which includes sports organisations and brands, clubs, sportsmen, promoters, managers and boxers.
Sir Mo Farah, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Adam Peaty, Adam Gemili, Dina Asher-Smith and others (“Rule 40GB Case”)
Oldham Athletic Football Club
Shamir Mullings, Keith Lowe, Elliot Durell, Rhys Taylor, Ryan Lloyd and Jamie Grimes (“Macclesfield Town FC Players Case”)
Joe Joyce, Guido Vianello and Kody Davies (S-Jam Boxing)
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. The matter is known as the Rule 40GB Case.
- Regularly acting for French Champions League and international footballer Moussa Dembélé.
- Advising Olympic silver medallist heavyweight boxer Joe Joyce and bright boxing prospects Guido Vianello and Kody Davies on all aspects of their boxing careers.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP handles a wealth of sporting-related matters including commercial services, employment and insurance, contractual issues, disputes, licensing and corporate restructurings. Jan Levinson, the team’s practice head, is a disputes specialist with a track record of work relating to sports injuries, sponsorship agreements, disciplinary matters and defamation. Manchester United are a standout name on the client roster, which includes other sports clubs, athletes, regulatory bodies, sports associations, technology providers and sportswear manufacturers.
Other key lawyers:
Manchester United Limited
Joshua Murray (ex-Manchester City FC)
Lincoln City Football Club
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (“IHRB”)
- Amongst other things, during the course of 2020, the team has provided continued advice to Manchester United in relation to and applied for minor variations to reflect the changes within Old Trafford.
- Acting for a former Manchester City youth team player who suffered a career-ending injury as a result of a challenge made by an opposition player when playing for England Under-16s against Northern Ireland Under-16s.
- Provided advice and guidance to Lincoln City Football Club in respect of police services provided by the police to the club on match days.
Farleys Solicitors LLP's team has expertise in football, boxing, rugby, athletics, darts, cycling and golf, among other sports. Practice head Daniel Draper counts athletes, international footballers and managers among his list of clients. He handles disputes, employment matters and defamation; the broader team is well-regarded for sporting injuries and contracts, insolvency matters and regulatory issues.
Other key lawyers:
Shoosmiths LLP is called upon to advise on governance matters, broadcasting rights deals, disputes and technical partnership deals, working with clients drawn from sports including football, rugby, cricket, motorsports and volleyball. Practice head Richard Millington also acts on sponsorship and agency agreements in addition to IP exploitation matters, and was instructed by the Six Nations to form part of a consortium advising on Project Light. Specific involvement entailed the structuring of media rights and the sales process to ensure maximum exposure and revenue.
City Football Group (Manchester City FC)
The Football Association
British Wheelchair Basketball
Oleksandr (Alex) Zinchenko (Man City player)
Federation of Sports and Play
Hampshire County Cricket Club
Association of Sporting Directors
- Advising the Federation of Sports and Play Associations on the implications of UK’s Brexit negotiations.
- Lead advisers to the Association of Sporting Directors, a professional body of sporting directors in football.
- Advising Simon Corney, former owner of Oldham Athletic, in relation to issued proceedings against the club’s current owner.
Dominic McGinn is the key name for sports matters at Excello Law. He represents footballers, clubs, agents and sports-related businesses. His track record includes appearances before FIFA, as well as acting on behalf of fitness instructor Sarah Watson in a high-profile case which saw an injunction lifted, allowing newspapers to report on allegations concerning Manchester United footballer Marcos Rojo. In a more recent highlight, he represented a broker in a claim against a Premier League club for £6m worth of fees pertaining to the club’s sale.
World Sports Advisers S.L.
SM Sports Group
El Gouna Football Club
Laco Investment Limited
- Instructed to assist in the recovery of £6.5m from an Italian football club relating to monies due as the agency were part owners of the player who is a leading international footballer following his transfer to a top 10 world football club.
- Represented Merrill Sports in claims for £500,000 against Manchester City Football Club and Vasco de Gama Football Club following the transfers of two players.
- Instructed on a claim for £2.5m by a player’s former club against the client, a football club, under FIFA’s Articles of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players. The claim was heard before FIFA’s dispute resolution chamber and was successfully defended.
Freeths LLP’s sports offering has been enhanced by the arrival of managing associate David Keenan, a 'real rising star', from Hill Dickinson LLP. He heads the practice which caters to a client base of agents, players, athletes, managers and trainers on a wide variety of instructions. Prominent examples include anti-doping, disciplinary proceedings and disputes along with numerous contractual matters such as player contracts, image rights and sponsorship agreements. Football, boxing and horseracing are some of the most active fronts for the group.
‘With David Keenan on board they have a real rising star in this area, which will provide them with a great platform on which to compete with established names. Coupled with the Freeths’ profile for litigation, this will mean they will be a real alternative to established names.’
‘David Keenan has wide-ranging experience coupled with a great manner that makes him a great lawyer to deal with.’
1810 Sports Limited
R2 Sports Limited
Fishball Sports Management Limited
- Acted on behalf of the claimant in bringing a High Court claim against the British Harness Racing Club asking the Court to exercise its supervisory jurisdiction over a sporting governing body – relied upon the leading Judgment of Bradley v Jockey Club.
- Acted on behalf of R2 Sports Limited (football agency regularly instructed on behalf of leading clubs and players), who were agents for West Ham United in negotiating the £7.2m transfer of Pedro Obiang from West Ham United to US Sassuolo in Italy.
- Acting for Manchester City and England footballer Phil Foden in respect of all of his legal issues, including a new playing contract with Manchester City and four endorsement deals.
The practice at Hill Dickinson LLP is jointly led by Graeme Alder, Sue Russell and Louise Millington-Roberts, who serves as a consultant in London. Its services include breach of contract disputes, ticketing matters, global rights and brand management issues, defamation and reputation management along with a range sponsorship agreement. A further key component of the offering is disciplinary and regulatory-related work with clubs, promoters and athletes, both retired and current, forming the client base.
Lancashire County Cricket Club Limited
The Dallaglio Foundation
JD Sports Fashion plc
The Sports Office
Signature Living Group
DAO Holdings Limited
- Acting for Nurvv Limited in relation to legal issues arising from new wearable sports footwear technology which was launched in 2019.
- Sports brand licensing, IP advisory and trade mark portfolio management services to Signature Living Group.
- Enforcing a FIFA Award.