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DWF logo


            We use our commitment to sport and sector-leading experience to get the results you want with the minimum of fuss and risk.

            Our clients trust us to understand the unique, evolving, fast-paced and highly pressurised sports environment. They value our dedication and responsiveness, and our understanding of what matters to them as a business.  We recognise the drivers motivating businesses operating in the sports sector, and our clients rely on our ability to provide pragmatic legal advice in this context.  As a result, we have developed a track record of presenting market-leading legal solutions allowing our clients to achieve their commercial aims.

            With the challenges heralded by new data protection legislation and wider sports regulatory backdrop, as well as a growth in sophisticated counterfeiting, reputation management challenges and the increasing pressure to commercialise activities, we help our clients ensure that the legal structures supporting technology and media driven initiatives are robust, but also flexible enough to ensure on-going success. 

            We handle a range of commercial and intellectual property (IP) issues, including licensing, advising on and drafting of bespoke commercial agreements, all aspects of IP and brand management and defamation issues. We have expertise in data and information management use, commercialisation and regulatory compliance.

            We take an integrated approach, going beyond just legal advice, to cover strategic planning, risk management and project facilitation. Our sports expertise includes advising on contracts, ranging from the commodity and routine through to complex and ‘special projects’, in areas including:

            • Image rights
            • Licensing
            • Trademarks
            • Data Protection
            • Defamation issues
            • Technology, Media & IT Supplier contracts
            • Sponsorship Arrangements

            It’s easy to be distracted by the glamour of the sporting world, as well as phased by the increasingly variable regulatory rules underpinning the activities of each sports association and linked brands.  

            At DWF we have a broad and deep experience of providing market-leading advice, with a long track record for success.  We work as an extension of the legal and business affairs departments of sports clubs, merchandisers and retailers.  

            Our number one objective is to help you work more effectively. That means designing and implementing innovative, practical solutions that allow you to be self-sufficient, whatever the circumstances surrounding your activities. By working collaboratively, to ensure the day-to-day challenges are met, our time becomes more cost-effectively focused on the areas of significant organisational or commercial risk and opportunity.

            We act as your trusted advisor – contributing to the commercial debates required, offering an impartial and commercially rigorous view and going beyond the transactional role of the traditional law firm.

            We demonstrate our commitment to the sports sector through action, plain speaking and commercially relevant advice.

            We think our client list demonstrates the level of trust our lawyers have across the sports sector. Organisations such as adidas, British Cycling, Dunfermline Athletic Football Club, Scottish Golf Union, Umbro and FC Manchester United, amongst others, have all trusted us as their legal advisors.


            We advised Umbro, the iconic British football brand, on its technical kit and sportswear partnership with Everton Football Club. The partnership, which officially commenced in June 2014, saw Everton wear the famous double diamond of Umbro from the start of the 2015/16 season. Umbro produce all on-pitch and training products for the men’s, women’s and academy teams at Everton and will also sponsor the club’s grassroots programmes.

            Lagardere Sports (formerly Sportfive)

            We have advised Lagardere Sports on a significant number of high profile advertising deals including a number of perimeter advertising deals with major European football clubs, shirt sponsorship agreements and other advertising rights. We negotiate services agreements with governing bodies, betting partner agreements between various bookmakers and UK football clubs, and agreements for player/team image rights used in EA Sports FIFA games and the Championship Manager 15 mobile phone game. As well as having an in-depth understanding of a range of regulatory and legal issues which impact on these types of agreements, it is essential to have a genuine appreciation of the sporting and commercial factors that can influence the content and functionality of these agreements.

            FC United of Manchester

            We were instructed by supporter-owned football club and community benefit society FC United of Manchester on the club’s new stadium development project with purpose built community facilities.  We worked with FC United from the start of the project, deploying a large team with a wide range of skills encompassing everything from commercial contracts, funding, employment and litigation (including judicial review) to planning, property, tax and construction.  The project had many complex issues but our vast expertise in community benefit societies and their ability to raise capital was vital to the project.

            British Cycling

            We supported British Cycling when devising a strategy to bridge a potential future funding gap. As a result of a strategic review of British Cycling's brand presence and proposition, we helped British Cycling (the internationally recognised governing body of all cycling sports in the UK) identify several opportunities relating to research and development ventures and sponsorship opportunities. These had two objectives; to help the athletes maximize their performance; and commercialise the association’s know-how and brands. 

            Belle Vue Speedway

            DWF acted for the purchasers of the Belle Vue Speedway franchise in February 2017. As part of this arrangement the owners secured property rights to the National Speedway Stadium, the Belle Vue brand and the rights to run a speedway team in Manchester.

            We have a long and proven track record for successful work across the sports sector. Whether we're working with a premiership football club, or a small sports charity, we're known for advising on the basis of what we see - delivering practical advice and solutions. 

            "DWF have worked for us on a wide range of issues, from safeguarding and disciplinary hearings to intellectual property and licensing, and on all of them they have always meet our expectations and have delivered what we required in the timeframes we gave them. They provide an excellent, personal service and also respond quickly to our needs and requests."
            Iain Heaton, The Pony Club

            "The acquisitions, from two different administrators, of Dunfermline Athletic Football Club and of East End Park were unusually complex transactions. Working alongside Pars United, however, DWF’s constructive and proactive advice saw both deals through to successful conclusions.”
            Ian Hunter, Dunfermline Athletic Football Club

            "As a long standing adviser to SGU, Paul Pignatelli and his team at DWF have worked well with us in understanding the unique and challenging issues which affect sporting organisations in a business world. Their assistance was invaluable throughout the discussions behind our historic amalgamation with Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association. Critically their advice not only covers our legal requirements but also consistently adds value to the solution delivered for the SGU.”
            Hamish Gray, Scottish Golf Union

            Craig Chaplin

            • Partner // National Head of Commercial & Competition

            Richard Meehan

            • Senior Associate
            Connected Services offers a range of stand-alone consultative services that complement our legal offering in each of our core sectors.

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