Sport in Scotland

Harper Macleod LLP

Retained by a stellar and wide-ranging roster of international federations, national governing bodies, tournament organisers, sports clubs, prominent sportspeople and sports representatives, Harper Macleod LLP possesses an enviable reputation in the sports law arena. Spearheaded by Bruce Caldow, the team handles matters emanating from all kinds of sports, with particular strength in regulatory and constitutional issues, event staging, commercial contracts, litigation and dispute resolution, disciplinary issues, anti-doping work, licensing mandates, insurance work and child safeguarding mandates. Tom Thomas excels in work at the intersection of IP and sports law, including broadcasting and sponsorship instructions. Another key name is senior associate Kelly Fraser, who specialises in charity law and regulatory and compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Caldow

Other key lawyers:

Tom Thomas; David Kerr; Carolyn Morgan; Kelly Fraser

Key clients

sportscotland

Scottish Rugby Union plc

UEFA

Glasgow City Council (host 2023 Cycling World Championships)

Commonwealth Games Scotland

Celtic plc

Tennis Scotland

Scottish Gymnastics

Scottish Swimming

Enduro Series

Work highlights

  • Reappointed as expert resource providers for legal services to all governing bodies in sport in Scotland.
  • Advising Glasgow City Council following the appointment by UCI, the world governing body of cycling, to host the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships.
  • Advising Scottish Gymnastics on conduct in sport matters, reviews and running the Conduct in Sport Panel helping to maintain standards across the sport, and to react to complaints received.

Addleshaw Goddard

The sports practice at Addleshaw Goddard encompasses the full range of contentious and non-contentious sports-related issues. Simon Catto, who heads up the group, routinely acts for football players and high-profile clubs in a variety of disputes, with additional strength in complex issues relating to contracts and regulatory matters. Helena Brown is particularly skilled in sponsorship, data protection and consumer compliance matters. In recent team news, Tony McGlennan departed in September 2020 to take up a role at Stranraer Sheriff Court.

Practice head(s):

Simon Catto

Other key lawyers:

Helena Brown; Erin Grieve

Key clients

Celtic Football Club

The Scottish Football Association

St Mirren Football Club

Motherwell Football Club

Kilmarnock Football Club

Ice Hockey UK

The Rugby Partnership

Edinburgh United

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of St Mirren FC in relation to an SPFL Notice of Complaint, issued in respect of alleged breaches of the SPFL regulations governing Covid-19 protocols.
  • Advising Ice Hockey UK on a dispute concerning the application of the international rules regarding transfer fees applicable to a professional ice hockey player transferring from Canada to the UK.
  • Advising The Rugby Partnership Limited on signing and retaining players on contracts of employment.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's multidisciplinary sports team is noted for its frequent representation of large football clubs and sports governing bodies in complex sports-related issues. In particular, it receives a flow of mandates relating to disciplinary rules, governance matters and sporting-related litigation. Neil Smith leads the group, which includes senior associate Stephen Farrell, who is an experienced commercial litigator and arbitration expert with extensive experience in sporting-related disputes. Other areas of focus include IP issues, health and safety matters, brand protection work and property transactions.

Practice head(s):

Neil Smith

Other key lawyers:

Hazel Moffat; Stephen Farrell; Colin Hulme

Testimonials

‘Always on hand, there when you need them, the Burness Paull team build strong relationships with their client base. to have that in house legal feel, as though we are part of the same Club, they are our extended family.’

‘A well regarded firm, who are developing a strength in sports representation.’

‘Stephen Farrell is excellent, smart, switched-on; he provides clear, focused advice with an understanding of client expectations.’

Key clients

Scottish FA

Scottish Rugby Union plc

Scottish Squash Limited

Scottish Professional Football League

Aberdeen FC

Sir Alex Ferguson/ACF Sports Promotions

PicRights

LBJ Sports Apparel Limited (“Elite”)

Sky Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Elite in a multi-million pound dispute with Rangers FC regarding kit and merchandising agreements.
  • Advising the Scottish football league body on intellectual property enforcement.
  • Advising Hampden Park Limited on upgrade works to the stadium in order to comply with UEFA requirements for Scotland hosting the delayed Euro 2020 championships.

CMS

Following the recruitment of counsel Neeraj Thomas from Burness Paull LLP in 2019, CMS' sports practice has grown substantially, with expertise encompassing a broad range of pure sports law instructions and wider issues facing the sports sector. Most notably, Thomas acts as the lead adviser to the Scottish FA, which he assists with myriad disciplinary and regulatory matters. Other areas of focus for the multi-disciplinary group, which works on a cross-departmental basis, is high-profile sponsorship agreements, real estate deals, contentious issues and commercial contracts.

Practice head(s):

Neeraj Thomas

Testimonials

‘Neeraj Thomas is excellent, very reliable on all issues re. Scottish football.’

Key clients

The Scottish Football Association Limited

UEFA

WME IMG LLC (Ultimate owner of IMG sports agency)

Scottish Golf

Northridge Law

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers

Gleneagles Hotel Ltd

The former Joint Administrators of Rangers Football Club

Unilever UK Central Resources Limited and Unilever Group

Attis Fitness Limited

Game4Padel Limited

Hunterfit (UK) Limited

Places for People Leisure

Raeburn Place Foundation and Raeburn Place Development Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Scottish FA on various disciplinary matters arising from alleged rule breaches of clubs, players and others under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA.
  • Defending a claim brought by the Joint Liquidators of Rangers Football Club plc against the club’s former Joint Administrators.
  • Advised Unilever Central Resources Limited (and other members of the Unilever Group) on a number of high-profile sponsorship agreements in respect of the promotion and marketing of Unilever products, namely “Sure”, “Rexona” and “Lifebuoy” with Chelsea Football Club, Manchester City Football Club and others.

Brodies LLP

With strength in matters at the nexus of sports and technology law, Brodies LLP's sports practice combines firm-wide expertise in dispute resolution, IP issues and commercial contracts. It has seen an uptick in work related to software and service agreements, specifically fan engagement and loyalty scheme transactions, which it handles for a range of sports clubs, technology providers and e-commerce entities. Department head Andy Nolan is well-versed in issues arising from the worlds of football, tennis and e-sports in particular.

Practice head(s):

Andy Nolan

Other key lawyers:

Ross Campbell

Key clients

Scotcomms Technology Group Ltd

Rewards 4 Group

Aberdeen Football Club

Perfect Memorabilia Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Scotcomms Technology Group Ltd on a teaming agreement with the Atos Group in respect of a joint bid to provide electronic ticketing services to FIFA for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
  • Advised Scotcomms Technology Group on an agreement with The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Champions) Limited for the provision of electronic ticketing services at The Championships, Wimbledon 2020.
  • Negotiated the provision of loyalty scheme services to Everton Football Club through EvertonRewards.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP’s sports practice, led by Andrew Sleigh, has capabilities across a wide array of corporate and commercial, property, litigation, disciplinary and charity law issues. An established name in the football and golf arenas, key focal points of the team's expertise include commercial contracts, corporate governance issues, commercial projects, and the sale and purchase of sports-related property. Notably, Gary Booth advises the Scottish Football Association on long-term projects and pressing short-term issues.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Sleigh

Other key lawyers:

Gary Booth; David Gibson

Testimonials

‘Gary Booth has always provided a fantastic service. He takes the time to understand the issue and then present solutions in a commercially focused way, leaving the legal jargon out but ensuring risks are always understood. He truly acts as your legal partner and has always delivered, even in the tightest of deadlines.’

‘Where the area has not been one of his own expertise, Gary Booth has drafted in the relevant colleagues but always overseen and owned the issue as our partner contact.’

Key clients

Scottish Football Association

Hampden Park Stadium Limited

Royal Troon Golf Club

Tommy Gilmour Sports Promotions

DAFC Fussball GmbH

Work highlights

  • Advised Scottish FA on binding documentation in relation to the acquisition of the National Stadium, Hampden Park.
  • Acted for DAFC Fussball GmbH, a German client, on its acquisition of a stake in Dunfermline Athletic FC.
  • Advised Scottish FA on the organisation and holding of a virtual AGM due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gilson Gray

Gilson Gray is best known for its knowledge of Scottish football, where it advises clubs and individuals on a range of matters. Practice head and 'future star' Keith Anderson demonstrates 'extensive experience beyond his years acting in high-profile restructuring, commercial, sporting and political dispute matters'. Corporate lawyer Derek Hamill has particular expertise in supporter trust-led acquisitions of Scottish football clubs, private investments into football clubs, and general commercial matters.

Practice head(s):

Keith Anderson

Other key lawyers:

Derek Hamill

Testimonials

Keith Anderson is an outstanding tactician, his full-throated presentation of any case belies a thoughtful and nuanced assessment of his client’s needs and the best way to achieve them.’

‘Keith Anderson is a future star. He has extensive experience beyond his years acting in high-profile restructuring, commercial, sporting and political dispute matters. He is the paradigm example of the modern litigator: highly adaptable, digitally and media savvy, and astute to commercial and political realities.’

Key clients

Heart of Midlothian plc

Partick Thistle Football Club Limited

Scottish Golf

Work highlights

  • Acted for two Scottish football clubs in the highest profile litigation in Scotland in 2020, specifically arising as a result of the Covid pandemic.
  • Defending an athletics club in an action of passing off by another local club offering a variety of sports activities.
  • Acted for Scottish Golf in resolving a contractual dispute that arose as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Lindsays

Lindsays places an emphasis on incorporation and corporate governance matters, usually carried out on behalf of governing bodies and sports clubs. With capabilities across rugby, golf, cricket, football, horse racing, sailing, tennis, boxing and athletics, the department is led by Douglas Roberts, who is best known for his knowledge of sports contracts. Brent Haywood specialises in contentious issues arising from the sporting sphere.

Practice head(s):

Douglas Roberts

Other key lawyers:

Brent Haywood

Testimonials

‘Lindsays clearly have a strong in-depth knowledge of the industry, which helps in shaping legal and commercially focused solutions for their clients.’

‘Douglas Roberts clearly understands the sporting landscape through personal interest and previous matters/clients that he has worked upon. He went above and beyond the initial required ask and certainly was generous with his time.’

‘The key USP of the practice is the people and their willingness to go above and beyond to deliver a service, solution and/or advice.’

‘The people at the practice were invested in the best outcome for the company.’

Key clients

Dundee United Football Club

Cove Rangers Football Club

Raith Rovers Football Club

British Boxing Board of Control

Edinburgh Academical Football Club

Heriots Rugby Club

Work highlights

  • Advising three Scottish football clubs, which won their respective leagues and gained promotion, in successfully securing promotions after two other Scottish football clubs raised legal proceedings to annul such promotions.
  • Advising British Boxing Board of Control on the implementation of the recommendations of a Fatal Accident Inquiry following the tragic death of professional boxer Michael Towell.
  • Advising Edinburgh Academical Football Club on the legal aspects of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the first international rugby match.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser is noted for its capabilities in gymnastics, football and hockey in particular. Employment issues, disciplinary hearings, governance matters, commercial contracts, immigration-related mandates and image rights are key areas of strength for the group, which is led by Paul Geoghegan, who also advises several charitable sports organisations on strategic governance issues. Best known for his considerable expertise in corporate transactions, insolvency matters and sponsorship contracts, Iain Young is another noteworthy practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Paul Geoghegan

Other key lawyers:

Iain Young

Testimonials

‘ Easy to work with, good communication and a great reputation.’

‘Paul Geoghegan has been professional and knowledgeable with the work our business has undertaken with them. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.’

‘We work with Morton Fraser because they have got to know us well as a business. They understand sport and have a diverse range of expertise to help us with issues that arise.’

‘We work with Paul Geoghegan who is diligent and incredibly supportive. He really took time to understand us as an organisation and the sport of gymnastics in order to offer tailored support.’

Key clients

Dundee United Football Club

Scottish Hockey

Scottish Gymnastics

The Scottish Racing Academy

Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Club

Tartan Golf International Limited

Boroughmuir Rugby and Community Sports Club

Kirkcaldy RFC

Pollok Football Club

Work highlights

  • Advising Scottish Premiership club, Dundee United Football Club, on its football academy development proposals.
  • Advising Scottish Gymnastics on a number of legal matters including data protection, legal structure and governance.
  • Advised Scottish Hockey, the national governing body for the sport of hockey in Scotland, on the setting up of a new entity for the purposes of running international masters hockey teams for participants aged 35 and over.