The sport industry has been forced to tackle seismic disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the shut down of sporting venues causing considerable damage to revenue streams.
The crisis has reiterated the value sport has in our lives; as teams and athletes slowly begin the careful resumption phase, we have all been reminded just how much we appreciate it.
Sport’s return has been a welcome distraction for many from the stresses of the lockdown period, but it has come with substantial conditions to protect participants and fans alike. From an ever-increasing spotlight on integrity and healthcare regulation to changing sports marketing arrangements; from growing athlete exposure to the rapid adoption of technology, how we interact with and regulate sport will be different and perhaps never be the same again.
Finance in sport was already changing rapidly pre-coronavirus. This will continue to evolve with an increased focus on private equity investments shifting the way clubs and events are managed and operated.
Those organisations flexible enough to adapt to the evolving market, particularly where technology has filled the lockdown void, will be in the best position to succeed.
We will support you as you adapt to this changing market, offering a team of lawyers with critical experience working within sports organisations. We understand how the sports sector functions; our team has supported clients across sport for over 100 years, from clubs, athletes and international regulators, to innovative disrupters in sports media and technology.
Sport will emerge a different entity from the COVID-19 crisis, but hopefully stronger and more vital than ever, and our team will be there to support it.
Sports Marketing & Sponsorship
Commercial agreements across sports marketing, broadcasting and sponsorship are inevitably set to change in the future, instigated in a large part by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These arrangements will need to be more innovative and go beyond financial considerations; we expect to see greater use of performance based, short term deals, with power shifting to buyers.
How brands market to fans will change too. With empty stadiums, technology has stepped in to help brands and broadcasters market themselves and interact with a new remote fanbase. Technology continues to develop new methods of marketing and engagement.
We can support you in this changing process, through drafting and negotiating these new marketing, broadcasting and sponsorship deals in sport. With our dedicated technology team, we are able to anticipate the changing landscape, and help you shape deals in the future.
The advance of technology continues, with developments in the use of live sports data, live officiating technology and innovative engagement platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken technology’s role in sport to new levels; it is now less of an added bonus, and more a necessity. With esport competitions, remote fan engagement platforms and popular “Over The Top” (OTT) streaming services having gone beyond expectations to fill the void left by the shutting down of live sport the growth of technology and data in sport is unlikely to cease.
We combine the strength of our sport and technology teams to offer sports organisations, technology businesses and investors a range of market-leading legal services tailored to the emerging SportsTech industry. Whether you are disrupting or being disrupted, we can help you, offering advisers with a deep knowledge and understanding of the existing landscape, and new developments.
Integrity and Regulation
From sports betting, to anti-doping, to safeguarding; the spotlight upon integrity and sports regulation has never been brighter, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way sport can be played safely. It is more important than ever that all stakeholders in sport have sufficient policies and procedures in place protecting their integrity.
A sport that places integrity at the heart of its culture and values is one that can be recognised as honest and trustworthy, one that truly champions fair play and sportsmanship, and above all provides a safe environment for all those who compete, from grassroots to an elite level. Integrity should be the core value across the philosophy of all sports, and we are dedicated to supporting clubs, leagues, players and regulators achieve and maintain that aim.
Our team has extensive experience advising a range of stakeholders across all areas of integrity, and we combine a ‘Rapid Response Unit’ to support you through immediate crises and an ‘Integrity Risk Review’ to identify wider concerns within rules and regulations.
To read more about how our Integrity Sevices Unit can support you here.
Players & Athletes
The role of players and athletes in modern elite sport has changed. Whether you are a player or an elite athlete, technology and social media has blurred the boundaries between you and the fans; you have a far wider reach than ever before and being a sporting icon is as much about your personal brand now as the performance itself. We have seen the growing shift of power from clubs and federations towards sports stars, and it is imperative that you have the best legal advice to protect your brand assets.
We have supported some of the highest profile players and athletes in the world, with a growing reputation for support across player and athlete’s image rights and wider brand management.
We are also able to provide you the added benefit of our private client expertise, and can offer you leading legal support across philanthropy and personal planning, such as tax; buying property and protecting assets in relation to family matters; and supporting private wealth investments and structures.
Meet the team
The Score Podcast series
Listen to episodes of our podcast The Score.Download here
"Game changing" for the beautiful game
Nic Couchman writes for Sport Business on the evolution of sport as an investment asset class
Nic examines the ways sports rights-holders work with private equity houses and the key features of successful partnerships.
Nick White quoted by the Financial Times on the Japanese government’s determination to press ahead with the Tokyo Olympics
While the organisers have no contractual rights to cancel, the IOC would have little recourse if Japan closed its borders.
Darren Bailey quoted by Citywire on the unseen battle between the American and European models of sport
Fans and regulators are paying more attention to how clubs and competitions are financed at a time when sports need capital.
Pfizer, Ted Danson and the Olympic Vaccine Solution
Darren Bailey quoted extensively on the legalities of the European Super League proposals
Darren considers the legal questions that exist around the introduction of a European Super League.
Darren Bailey quoted by the Financial Times on the regulation of the sports betting industry
As the UK moves to a more regulated model, the US is throwing open the doors on the regulation of the sports betting industry.
COVID-19 Certification: Why do the Sport and Retail sectors disagree?
Darren Bailey quoted by SportsPro on the UK government’s ongoing review of gambling sponsorship
A new code of conduct for betting firms rather than an outright ban on sports sponsorship is the likely way forward.
Transfer of Power: Brexit and the Football Transfer Market
Nowhere in football will the effect of Brexit more keenly be felt than in the transfer market.
The EPL's Fantasy Nightmare
Jonathan McDonald and Rahim Hirji write for LawInSport on the relationship between data protection and referee reports in English football
Is data in reports submitted by referees to the Football Association subject to the General Data Protection Regulation?
Nick White writes for City AM on the publication of the first Olympic 'playbook'
How does Tokyo plan to stage a safe Olympics this year - and why cancellation remains the last resort.
Nic Couchman quoted by Host City on private investment in sport
Sports were once seen as risky ventures that wouldn’t get past an investment committee – this has changed.
Nick White writes for Host City on the debate surrounding whether the Olympics will go ahead this summer
It is perhaps the biggest question in sport right now: will the Olympics go ahead this summer?
Olympics 2021: Countdown or Count Out?
Nick White appears on Law In Sport's webinar on the legal rights to player data
Jody MacDonald quoted in Sport Business on the firm's role advising Veloce on the creation of Quadrant
Sports Self-Regulation on Thin Ice
Dan McDonagh analyses the judgement upholding banning athletes who participate in non-sanctioned events as anti-competitive.