Sport in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP stands out for its expertise in the horseracing sector, where it offers comprehensive advice to a range of clients on contentious and non-contentious matters. The team’s disputes work includes frequently representing jockeys in appealing decisions by racecourse stewards, and it also represents trainers and owners in litigation. Cases involving injuries to horses are another area of focus. Beyond horseracing, the practice provides input on employment disputes, sponsorship deals and the development of sport facilities for clients involved in golf, football and cricket. Practice head Rory Mac Neice is a former jockey with deep experience in horseracing, while Andrew Braithwaite handles commercial agreements involving sports clients. Associate Joanne Saye is also a specialist in horseracing matters.

Practice head(s):

Rory Mac Neice

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Braithwaite; Joanne Saye

Key clients

The Professional Jockeys Association

The Racecourse Association Limited

The British Show Horse Association Limited

Ascot Racecourse Limited

The National Trainers Federation

The Joint Measurement Board Limited

Dan Skelton

Brian Hughes

Oisian Murphy

John Hales

Hollie Doyle

Jonjo O’Neil

Harry Skelton

Graham Gibbons

The Professional Golfers Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for John Hales, a major racehorse owner, in connection with a dispute with a veterinary clinic, following the death of his racehorse whilst under the clinic’s care.
  • Advised one of the South West’s leading financial advisers, Cooper Associates Limited to secure its exclusive sponsorship deal of a first class county cricket club (Somerset County Cricket Club) commencing in 2021 for a term of 5 years.
  • Acting for racehorse trainer Heather Main in respect of an appeal against the decision of the racecourse stewards to fine her following a finding post race of an irregularity of the weight that the jockey riding her horse was allotted to carry.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP has a varied sports practice, acting for prominent clients from sports including horseracing, rugby, tennis and football. The team advises these clients on corporate and commercial transactions, with a particular focus on sponsorship deals and the management of IP portfolios. In the contentious space, the practice represents clients in disputes involving IP as well as competition law. Jeremy Dickerson leads the team and has a specialism in sponsorship agreements, while Helen Scott-Lawler handles commercial agreements and is particularly active in horseracing. Partners from the firm’s corporate and competition teams are also frequently involved in sports-related cases.

Practice head(s):

Jeremy Dickerson

Other key lawyers:

Helen Scott-Lawler; Neil Connor-McLaren

Key clients

The Racecourse Association

Racecourse Technical Services Limited

Scottish Premier Football League

Santa Barbara Polo Club

EDH Tennis Ltd (shareholders)

Bath Cricket Club

Virgin Sport

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Santa Barbara Polo Club in High Court and Court of Appeal trademark proceedings.
  • Acting for the shareholders of EDH Tennis on its sale of the sport-tech company FlightScope Services to IMG Arena UK, a subsidiary of US-based entertainment and sports business Endeavour Group.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP‘s sports team stands out for its work on employment matters, advising prominent players and managers on contract negotiations and also representing them in employment tribunals. The practice also provides ongoing and one-off advice to sports organisations on transactions, contractual disputes and corporate governance. Practice head Tim Copplestone specialises in employment law, while Robert Ridd handles corporate matters. Debt recovery specialist Philip Roberts is another name to note, as is associate Sarah Driscoll who focuses on employment cases.

Practice head(s):

Tim Copplestone

Other key lawyers:

Robert Ridd; Philip Roberts; Sarah Driscoll


‘Very well connected in sport – cricket, rugby and football in particular. Outstanding ability to find solutions on a commercial and cost-effective basis.’

‘Tim Copplestone is an outstanding and unassuming lawyer.’

Key clients

The Rugby Players’ Association

Wasserman Media Group

Decathlon UK

The Football Association – Club Wembley

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

Somerset County Cricket Club

Surfing England

Work highlights

  • Advised leading global sports agency Wasserman Media Group on its international acquisition of German boxing promoter agency Team Sauerland.
  • Advising the Rugby Players Association, the trade union for premiership rugby players, on player protection legal matters.
  • Representing Decathlon, the world’s largest sports retailer on employment law and commercial law matters.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey focuses on regulatory issues in the sports sector, advising clients on health and safety compliance for events, as well as helping them respond to any ensuing incidents. In 2021, the team was engaged by a number of clients to provide assistance related to the impact of coronavirus regulations on sporting events. Elsewhere, the practice also advises clients on the management of IP portfolios. Nathan Peacey leads the team in Bristol.

Practice head(s):

Nathan Peacey

Key clients

Football Safety Officers’ Association

Ashton Gate Limited

Bristol Sport

Go Skydive

Arena Racing Corporation

Exeter City FC

Bath Racecourse

Work highlights