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Sports governing bodies

Farrers are the paradigm of a governing body firm: they understand exactly how governing bodies work and are excellent.

Chambers UK

We understand the wide range of issues which face national governing bodies (NGBs) from governance, compliance/regulatory and employment matters through sports disputes, the enforcement of rules through to sponsorship, brand management and real property. We advise a number of the UK’s leading governing bodies and sports clubs on all these issues.

We also understand that increasingly NGBs face commercial and financial pressures and want their advisers to be fully up to speed with their organisation so that advice can be given cost-effectively. We work closely with all our clients to gain first-hand knowledge of their organisation so that we can provide speedy, relevant and value for money advice. Our partners take pride in building close working relationships with our clients and can be relied upon to be available at all times.

The range of legal expertise required by NGBs demands a range of legal experts from around the firm to be gathered into one team, a team that’s ranked among the UK’s best for sports law. The key to our offer is our ability to offer NGBs a “one stop shop” as we have extensive experience of the majority of issues an NGB is likely to face.

Headline work we have recently undertaken for NGBs includes:

  • advising the BOA on its dispute with LOCOG;
  • advising the Rugby Football Union on its agreement with Premier Rugby Limited and the Guinness Premiership clubs to govern the professional game in England until 2016;
  • advising UK Athletics on its Selection Policies, Procedures and Appeals Procedures for 2012;
  • advising the LTA on its Selection Policies for Player Funding and the Player Funding Contract;
  • drafting various Anti-Bribery/Anti-Corruption Policies and Rules for adoption by NGBs.

How we help

Matters on which we regularly advise include:

Incorporation: advising on the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation whether as a company limited by guarantee, IPS or Royal Charter body; and tax-efficient structures for achieveing this;

Governance: advising on Companies Act 2006 compliance for NGBs; conflict of interest issues; advising on corporate structures and working with a  partner charity or joint venture company;

Charity: advising NGBs on their relationship with any charity operating in the sport; on the establishment of such charities and the hiving off of charitable activity to such a body;

Employment: advising on high profile hires/dismissals including redundancy programmes;

Equality: advising on equality policies and procedures and equality implications of existing Rules and Regulations;

Regulatory: advising on selection policies, disciplinary and dispute resolution procedures; regulations for people who are licensed by the NGB (eg coaches, officials, agents etc); eligibility issues; and rules;

Disputes:advising on disputes with others involved in the sport whether they are participants, other organisations, sponsors or suppliers;

Sponsorship: preparing template sponsorship contracts to reflect the package of rights to be granted by our client and associated commercial agreements, eg rights agency agreement and event management agreements;

Brand Management: advising on the protection and exploitation of the NGB’s trade marks;

Commercial: advising on business critical contracts with suppliers eg IT, website, fulfilment, online store; advising on debentures and other methods of raising finance;

Welfare: advising NGBs as to how to deal with difficult disclosures and situations where there are allegations of child abuse.

How we help


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