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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Expertise & Experience

In this section

Our dedicated cross-practice Sport (Industry) Group has outstanding knowledge of the sector, built on 25 years of providing innovative and commercial solutions to our clients around the world. We regularly advise international, regional and national sporting bodies, as well as investors, clubs, banks and other stakeholders, on their legal needs (transactional or contentious), across the full legal spectrum of the Sport Industry.

The increasing convergence of sport and business involves an international and diverse community of investors, stakeholders, governments, supranational bodies, funders, consumer brands and, of course, sportspersons. Successful interaction among them depends on high-quality legal advice which is sensitive to the commercial and cultural environment of sport. Such advice is vital, for example, in acquiring and funding sports businesses, commercialising sports related rights, developing physical infrastructure and supporting the bodies that regulate and host events.

Our Sports Industry Group exists to meet that need, combining our international leadership in the key areas of legal expertise with longstanding and authentic expertise in the sports arena.

Client experience

Commercial experience:

  • Advised the majority shareholder in Arsenal FC on its takeover
  • Advised LFP in the context of the invitation to tender concerning the sale of the TV rights of the top French football championship (Ligue 1) for the seasons 2020-2021 to 2023-2024. For the first time in the history of the championship of France, the symbolic threshold of a billion euros (i.e. 1,153,000,000 EUR per season) has been exceeded in the sale of the TV rights of the Ligue 1
  • Fox Networks Group on a landmark media rights deal in African football. The deal, which saw Fox Sports working with two African football unions – Zone West A and Zone West B – resulted in a series of regional football tournaments for the 16 nations who make up the two zones. The tournament was broadcast in 22 countries in Africa and distributed to more than 125 million Fox Sports subscribers across Africa, Europe, Asia and the US
  • Adviser to the International Paralympic Committee
  • Adviser to the Centre for Sport and Human Rights
  • Appointed Official Law Firm of Rugby World Cup 2015
  • The successful London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics bid team on key agreements related to the bid for the Games 
  • Qatar bidding team for the Doha 2016 Olympic bid
  • UEFA European Football on the 2012 and the 2016 UEFA Championships 
  • The Organising Committee for the 2003 World Athletics Championship in Paris 
  • Event management, stadium and broadcasting agreements for the Stella Artois Tennis Tournament in London
  • Sportfive on the acquisition of the broadcasting rights for Europe for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games

Contentious experience:

  • Advised the Pakistan Cricket Board in a multi-million dollar dispute with the Board of Control for Cricket in India
  • Advised the minority shareholder of Blackpool Football Club in an unfair prejudice petition and a separate breach of contract claim against the Club's majority shareholder and its directors
  • Advised Multiplex Constructions Limited on diverse disputes arising from the construction of Wembley National Stadium
  • Adviser to the International Paralympic Committee in relation to a wide range of issues
  • Advised World Rugby in relation to the Rugby World Cup 2015 and other matters
  • Advised a professional sports team on an anti-doping investigation
  • Member of Sports Resolutions' pro bono panel, providing pro bono advice to athletes on anti-doping matters
  • Advised Richard Gasquet in response to anti-doping charges before the International Tennis Federation's tribunal and the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Directory listings and client comments

  • Clifford Chance LLP's international sports practice advises governing bodies on commercial, contentious and regulatory matters, including event hosting and IP, while also acting for shareholders and governing bodies on major disputes. The firm has been advising US businessman and Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke on his £600m bid to buy the whole of the Premier League football club.
    Legal 500 UK 2020: TMT (technology, media and telecoms): Sport (Legalease, Ltd.)
  • Christopher Yates, who recently successfully acted for VB Football Assets on its high-profile dispute over the ownership of Blackpool FC. He is also highly skilled in contentious issues surrounding regulations and anti-doping. The team also handles non-contentious corporate work through Tim Lewis, who continues to advise Kroenke Sports & Entertainment on its interests in Arsenal FC; he was recently added to the Premier League club's board as a non-executive director. Jennifer Mbaluto, who focuses on M&A and TMT matters, is also recommended.
    Legal 500 UK 2020: TMT (technology, media and telecoms): Sport (Legalease, Ltd.)
  • "go-to practice for particularly heavy sports litigation, involving complex analysis of extensive evidence."
    Legal 500: Sports (Legalease, Ltd.)
  • Yves Wehril is described as the "Star practitioner and undisputed leader in this area" and by sources as "the most important sports lawyer in the market, especially in the football sector".
    Chambers: Sport - France (Chambers and Partners)

Recent News

  • Clifford Chance partner Audley Sheppard QC has been appointed as the new Chair of the Sport Resolutions' Board, taking over from Edwin Glasgow CBE, QC. Audley said: "I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to work with the Board, the Chief Executive and the team at Sport Resolutions in helping to provide independent, efficient and accessible dispute resolution services to everyone involved in sport, and to build on Edwin's legacy. I am committed to improving integrity and trust in all aspects of sport at all levels."
    22 June 2021
  • Clifford Chance Sport Industry Group advise City Football Group on its first Non-Fungible Token
    19 May 2021 
  • Clifford Chance partner Chris Yates and Senior Associate James Cranston appointed to Sport Resolutions Panel of Arbitrators. Chris and James are the leaders of the firm's Sport Industry Group.
    March 2021

International Paralympic Committee anti-doping matters

Rory Scott and Jumani Robbins acted for the International Paralympic Committee in eleven an anti-doping cases brought by the IPC. Clifford Chance continues to act for the IPC on anti-doping and other matters.
Between March 2019 and March 2020