2017 Year in Review
We wish our readers a happy New Year, and best wishes for a prosperous 2018.
For our first post of the new year, we wanted to take a quick look back at the highlights of 2017 - a busy and eventful year for the Mills & Reeve sports team.
Some of the highlights of 2017 included:
- Eni Aluko - we’re proud to have supported Eni Aluko and the PFA in Eni’s year-long grievance with The FA, which culminated in a dramatic Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hearing in October 2017. We hope Eni’s case will be a watershed moment in British sport when it comes to equality and diversity. In fact, just this week The FA announced that it was introducing a new whistle-blowing policy for players in partnership with UK Sport, as well as a bespoke training programme on the topic of player care for national coaches in collaboration with UK Sport and Kick it Out. Chief Executive of The FA, Martin Glenn, confirmed that Eni was consulted on the new whistle-blowing policy.
- England Golf - we’re also proud to have recently been appointed as the sole legal provider for England Golf, the governing body for amateur golf in England. Over the next three years, we will be providing England Golf with a variety of assistance and legal advice including helplines for their clubs and member county bodies, merger and incorporation work, company law, corporate structures, sports law, employment, property and litigation.
- Mo Salah - the Head of our sports team, Mark Hovell (an arbitrator at the CAS), was appointed as an arbitrator on a case involving Chelsea Football Club and (the now Liverpool footballer) Mohamed Salah dealing with the €40m claim brought by Fiorentina against Chelsea and Salah. The CAS panel rejected Fiorentina’s appeal and found in favour of Chelsea and Salah.
- Image rights – as we have written about previously, over the last year the image rights protocol between the Premier League cubs and HMRC ended, and as such there has been a lot of uncertainty as to the future of image rights structures for footballers. We liaised with HMRC and advised numerous footballers and football clubs regarding establishing, or re-structuring, image rights structures to comply with HMRC guidelines.
- Women’s football - there were a number of proposed changes in the women’s game in 2017, including a new standard contract and salary capping. We reviewed all of these and were active in assisting the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in pushing back against salary capping in particular, which has now been dropped as an idea by The FA.
- Wigan Warriors – we acted for Wigan Warriors who were charged by the Rugby Football League (RFL) for failing to play a Super League match against Widnes. The matter was heard before the RFL and we were successful in getting the fine and other penalties quashed, and Wigan were left with a warning.
- Patrick Lacey – we acted for Patrick, a footballer who failed an in competition anti-doping test for cocaine and was facing a 4 year ban from the sport. With the assistance of medical experts we appeared before the judicial commission of The FA and managed to secure a 14 month ban for Patrick.
- Pro-bono work - our lawyers provided pro-bono advice to two national governing bodies and a jockey/trainer this year. Tiran Gunawardena was appointed to the Disciplinary Panels of England Boxing and British Gymnastics. He was appointed to a case for England Boxing involving a sparring session which lead to a former British Middleweight champion falling into a coma, and a case for British Gymnastics involving a former international gymnast’s social media indiscretions.
- Publications – our lawyers were quoted in and/or wrote numerous newspapers articles and journals (including The Independent, LawInSport, World Sports Advocate, the EPFL Legal Newsletter, Watford Observer and Goal.com) on sports law topics ranging from Paul Pogba’s and Neymar’s high profile transfers to the Criminal Finances Act and Brexit.
2018 will also undoubtedly be a significant one in sports, with the FIFA World Cup in Russia and the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and we look forward to sharing our insights and opinions on these events and more.