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Our sports expertise 

Farrer & Co has one of the UK’s leading sports practices.

Our team advises sports businesses and those who invest in them. We advise household-name sports clubs, rights holders, national governing bodies and international federations, across the full range of their activities.

Our breadth of specialist advice and quality of service means we are ideally placed to meet our sports clients’ needs across a range of disciplines. We can advise in all relevant areas, providing a comprehensive and integrated service. 

Our team contributes to publications including The Athletic, FourFourTwo, LawInSport and WIRED.

Recent work highlights

  • Advised PGA European Tour on its negotiation of a ground-breaking strategic alliance and subsequent operational joint venture with PGA Tour;
  • Advised the Premier League, and a number of Premier League Clubs, on safeguarding issues;
  • Advised World Boxing on its establishment as an international federation;
  • Advised BOXT on its shirt sponsorship of Everton Football Club;
  • Advised the NFL on its establishment of the NFL Academy - an elite American Football development programme for student-athletes aged 16-19.

Commercial, IP and data 

  • Our Intellectual Property and Commercial team advises governing bodies, professional clubs and other sports rights holders on major deals such as sponsorship, broadcasting rights, and strategic partnerships. The team also advises on branding and intellectual property issues, performance and betting data, and marketing and advertising. It recently advised the award-winning smart home systems installer BOXT on its partnership with Everton Football Club.
  • The team has worked closely with governing bodies on structuring and staging international events and recently advised the NFL on the establishment of the NFL Academy at Loughborough. It has experience in the exploitation of global databases and assists clients with complex data protection matters concerning investigations and data subject rights.

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  • Our Finance team has earned a strong reputation for guiding sports clubs, governing bodies, sponsors and investors through borrowing and lending activities, as well as more innovative and bespoke financing transactions. Such transactions include loans made to football clubs against future income streams (such as broadcasting revenues, player transfer fees and sponsorship income), as well as in the fast-moving space of playing squad value linked loans.
  • Our experience, expertise and in-depth knowledge of the latest commercial and regulatory developments in the sports finance sector allows us to build long lasting relationships with our sporting clients and continue to grow our sports finance practice. 

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Corporate and governance 

  • We are experts in advising a wide range of sporting organisations on their bespoke transactional and governance needs, from national and international governing bodies and federations to clubs and member organisations.
  • We have longstanding relationships with high-profile sports clients, who value our ability to develop an in-depth understanding of their organisation and of the rules and regulations governing their sport. Our diverse practice areas allow us to offer a “one stop shop” for all of our clients’ transactional and governance needs.

In particular, we advise on:

  • Structuring and negotiating of a wide range of corporate transactions for corporate and individual clients, including major acquisitions, disposals, fundraisings and joint ventures.
  • Ongoing governance requirements, including compliance with the UK Sport / Sport England Code for Sports Governance, for organisations in receipt of public funding.
  • The drafting of critical governance documents, including Articles of Association, Board and Committee Terms of Reference, Codes of Conduct, Member Handbooks and Policies and Procedures.
  • Strategic reviews and, where necessary, overhauls of an organisation’s governance framework, whether in response to a change in best practice or legislation, an internal or external event, or recommendations arising from an independent review.
  • The embedding of ED&I and safeguarding principles into governance frameworks and cascading those principles throughout an organisation.

We have been named Sports Governance Firm of the Year - UK twice in recent years.

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  • Our Safeguarding Unit is market leading, advising all types of sports clubs and their governing bodies in relation to safeguarding, equality, and regulatory matters.
  • The team’s wide-ranging work includes supporting governing bodies and clubs in establishing, enforcing and monitoring safeguarding standards (in a UK as well as international context), managing both live safeguarding and disciplinary concerns as well as non-recent matters.
  • We have conducted comprehensive safeguarding reviews at Premier League football clubs, guided institutions through the introduction and implementation of new policies and standards, delivered training for staff, and advised on investigatory processes and crises management. We have supported a significant governing body in investigating and responding to a Club’s handling of whistleblowing concerns against a high-profile individual in the sport, which included complicated cross-jurisdictional safeguarding and data issues.
  • Our work goes beyond the safety and welfare of children and vulnerable groups and looks at wider issues of safer culture, inclusion and participation. The team has also advised bodies on accommodating transgender athletes and other Equality Act 2010 related issues.
  • As the first UK law firm to establish a dedicated Safeguarding Unit, we are thought leaders and commonly collaborate with sector experts from other disciplines to ensure our work and perspectives remain at the cutting edge. The Unit’s Low Level Concerns Guidance, which was revised this year, has been endorsed by the Department for Education and by Anne Whyte KC in her independent report commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England investigating allegations of mistreatment in gymnastics in the UK.
  • We host an annual Safeguarding in Sport conference bringing together a wide range of voices from the sector (including professional sports people themselves) to discuss emerging themes, share best practice and explore innovative approaches.

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  • Our Employment team’s specialised expertise makes us ideally suited to deliver comprehensive employment law advice to clients in the sports sector. We act for leading sports governing bodies, for clubs and for individual athletes on both employment and equality related issues. 
  • We have provided support in relation to high profiles hires and exits, complex investigations, sports specific issues around selection and promotion of home-grown players, individual employee relations issues and wider projects such as redundancy, restructures and TUPE transfers.
  • We also advise international governing bodies on disciplinary processes and sanctions.  

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Dispute resolution 

  • We work with sports clients on high profile litigation, contractual and regulatory disputes, international arbitration (including before the CAS), and disputes around selection and disciplinary proceedings.
  • We have close relationships with prominent agents and represent numerous high profile athletes. As one of the leading private client law firms in the country, we leverage our expertise to advise sports professionals on both personal and professional matters. Our guidance covers a broad range of issues, from personal tax, trusts, property, family law, and philanthropy to professional matters including sponsorship, image rights, and immigration.
  • Examples of our work include acting for a number of international federations on disputes arising at CAS, as well as providing advice to governing bodies and individual athletes on disputes and appeals relating to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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Reputation management 

  • Our elite reputation management and media law practice is critical to providing a full service to our sports clients. We regularly advise individual athletes, national and international federations and clubs on all issues affecting their reputation. This ranges from mainstream media coverage to online content, as well as wider reputational concerns around issues such as harassment and blackmail that affect high profile sports clients.

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Charitable foundations 

  • Our Charities practice is highly regarded, and we regularly combine our specialist charity law knowledge with in-depth practical expertise in the sports sector for sporting clients looking to set up a charity.  We advise governing bodies, sporting organisations and individual athletes on all aspects of charity formation including structuring, registration, and tax matters.  We regularly act for consortia of sports bodies seeking to collaborate on charitable ventures.  For registered charities, we advise upon a full spectrum of issues including governance, (re)structuring, trading and subsidiaries, fundraising and tax as well as advising upon and assisting with regulatory interactions. 

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Athletes and sportspeople 

  • We act for numerous high profile current and retired sports men and women, advising them on their personal planning, including preparing Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and setting up lifetime trusts. We work closely with agents, managers, accountants and financial advisers to provide holistic advice across all aspects of estate and tax planning.
  • As one of the leading private client law firms in the country, we harness our expertise to guide athletes in future-proofing their estates and personal lives and conserving their assets for the long term through careful risk analysis and planning. Recognising the unique challenges of transitioning from a sporting career to life afterward, we offer tailored support to assist during this critical phase
  • We work closely with our colleagues who cover property matters, sensitive questions of reputation, family law and philanthropy, as well as professional concerns around sponsorship, image rights and immigration issues.

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Their expertise and understanding of the sports sector enables them to work seamlessly with sports organisations, almost as if they are your very own in-house legal team and trusted friend wrapped into one."

Joy Johnston, Premier League Charitable Fund

How can we help?

Contact the team about services for sport:

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