Sport & Media

Our experienced team has been at the forefront of the development of sports law and is recognised as being one of the leading sports law firms in Europe. The team has led ground-breaking work involving complex litigation on issues such as competition, ticketing and anti-doping in addition to all aspects of sport, intellectual property and commercial law. As a result of its dynamic and flexible client centred approach, the team has developed an outstanding portfolio of clients including some of the most prominent sports events, governing bodies and individuals.

The team is ranked in the Legal 500 UK for Sports law, with Nick Bitel described as “an institution in the world of sports law”. Nick is also the Chief Executive of the London Marathon, Chair of Sport England and a Board Member of both UK Sport and the London Legacy Development Corporation. Zane Shihab is also credited in the Legal 500, has written several articles for the Sports trade press and is regularly requested by television broadcasters to provide his opinion on current sports law issues. James Thorndyke is recognised as a Leading sports lawyer in the Legal 500 and is credited with fighting “his clients’ corner hard” and is “impressive on ticketing work”.

Our dedicated sports law team has over 30 years of experience providing sports specific advice in the following areas:

  • Commercial: (practical commercial advice across all departments of a sporting event or organisation): supply of goods and services, website policy documents; manufacturing; terms and conditions.
  • Corporate: sports governance; investments; joint ventures; mergers and acquisitions; corporate finance.
  • Data and betting: development and implementation of data protection policies; data exploitation, enforcement and licensing.
  • Disputes and litigation: (commencing, maintaining and defending claims): contract disputes; regulatory and disciplinary cases; intellectual property issues (including trade mark oppositions and infringement actions).
  • Competition: advice on compliance with UK and EU competition laws.
  • Events: event establishment; structuring and funding; regulatory frameworks; commercial programmes; hospitality; ambush marketing; event management; ticketing.
  • Intellectual Property: (copyright, trade mark, passing-off, design rights and domain names): brand portfolio development and protection; registration; licensing; monitoring; enforcement; domain name recovery.
  • Marketing: sponsorship, endorsement, merchandising and licensing agreements; copy and image clearance; regulatory clearances; agency work.
  • Media: domestic and international media rights licenses on all platforms (including traditional, new and social media).
  • Procurement: advice on procurement rules; preparing invitations to tender; managing the bidding process and award of contract.
  • Regulatory: interpretation of rules and regulations; information sharing agreements (with betting companies, regulators and other stakeholders); investigations; disciplinary procedures; integrity issues (such as match fixing and other betting-related corruption).
  • Talent: representation and management agreements; agent-related issues; employment and playing contracts; player transfers; endorsement, sponsorship and merchandising agreements; image rights issues (including image rights structures, protection and exploitation issues); intellectual property issues (including trade marks); reputation management, defamation and privacy; dispute resolution and disciplinary.

Our sports and media team's experience includes:

  • Providing onsite assistance to The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) during The Championships, Wimbledon each year in relation to brand protection and ticketing. In addition to such work we advise AELTC year-round on the full range of commercial, contractual and intellectual property matters across all departments.
  • Acted for the Rugby Football Union in a Norwich Pharmacal order against Viagogo. The order was obtained in the High Court and successfully defended in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. To date it remains the leading case in this area and has had significant implications for all event owners and rights holders on enforcing ticket T&C’s.
  • Advised UEFA in respect of several European tournaments including the 2016 European Championships held in France and the 2016 & 2017 Champions League Finals held at the San Siro stadium in Milan and the Principality stadium in Cardiff respectively, where onsite assistance was provided in relation to brand protection and ticketing matters.
  • We advise the London Marathon on all aspects of their commercial programme for all its events (including the London Marathon, Half Marathon, London 10,000, Westminster Mile, Great City Race and Swim Serpentine) including sponsorship and supplier agreements.
Zane Shihab
Head of Sport, IP & Media
+44 20 7539 7312
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James Thorndyke
Partner, Dispute Resolution
+44 20 7539 7258
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Nick Bitel
Consultant, Sport & Media
+44 20 7539 7306
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Emma Shaw
Associate Solicitor, Dispute Resolution
+44 20 7539 7093
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Ben McLaughlin
Solicitor, Sports, Media & IP
+44 20 7539 7253
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