The Olympics and Paralympics postponed. Premier League football played behind closed doors. Cricketers locked into a bio-secure bubble. This is not the 2020 that we all envisaged at the turn of the year and for global sport, the competitive, financial, and legal implications of major societal upheaval have been brought into stark focus.
Questions have abounded on loopholes in footballers’ contracts, the implications of a sporting career cut short by the virus, or the liability of a club should fans attending a match infect each other. More than ever, sport is a legal minefield, and federations, leagues, clubs and athletes are in need of help to navigate it.
So, who can sport’s most influential figures turn to when in a legal quandary? Below is our roundup of some of the top names in the world of sports law.
Talent and determination doesn’t just win matches on the pitch, it also wins cases off of it. Livida Sport is an internationally-recognised sports law advisory and legal concierge. The firm was established in 2020 by Liz Ellen and Stefania Genesis, who have built their reputations as two of the top sports lawyers in the UK, with a combined 25 years’ experience of working on the biggest cases in sport. Liv was ranked 13th in a list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Sport in 2015, and has been described by Legal 500 as ‘probably the best sports lawyer in the country’. Clients include athletes, clubs and leading sports businesses.
Mishcon has acted on some of the highest profile sporting matters in recent years, with experience in areas including immigration, employment, brand protection, reputation management, construction and tax. The international makeup of the team enables them to act for clients across the globe, and in sports including athletics, boxing, cricket, cycling, football, horseracing and motorsport, among others. The firm also has a history of acting on investment into, and acquisitions of, sporting assets, a particularly relevant topic as the financial impact of COVID creates new opportunities for institutional investors who are eyeing up sporting brands and businesses.
Co-founded by the charismatic Matt Himsworth, a former senior associate at international reputation and privacy consultancy Schillings, Himsworth Scott work with clients including football clubs, agents, FTSE 100 businesses and high-net-worth individuals. One niche Himsworth has secured himself is educating elite footballers on cyber-security and how to communicate online. In an age where every move footballers make is under the microscope, the firm can expect to be kept plenty busy in advising the biggest names in the game.
One of the only law firms rated in Band 1 by Chambers UK for Sports Law, Bird & Bird’s clients range from international federations and national governing bodies, to broadcasters and esports organisations. The firm have expertise across an impressive array of sports, including football, athletics, tennis, combat sports, and even bobsleigh. Head of Bird & Bird Sport Group in London Jonathan Taylor had plenty to celebrate already, renowned as one of the top sports lawyers in the world, and as a Fulham season ticket holder, he can now also look forward to another season of Premier League football, just as soon as fans can return to stadia across the UK.
Describing itself as an independent law firm that focuses on the most complex and important matters in sport, Northridge was the 2019 winner of Boutique Law Firm of the Year. The firm announced itself to the sector with a statement signing, being appointed as Puma’s exclusive UK advisory on sports marketing and sponsorship within months of launching the business. That’s just the tip of the credentials iceberg, having also advised Neymar Jr on endorsement deals with global brands including EA Sports, Honda and Mastercard, and representing AC Milan at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July 2018 to successfully overturn their ban from European football.
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