Intermediaries and contractual certainty – lessons from Winlink Marketing Limited v The Liverpool Football Club and Athletics Grounds Limited

It’s no secret that gambling has become a huge part of football. With over £349 million in kit sponsorship being paid to Premier League football clubs in the 2019/20 season alone, it is clear that betting companies and the gambling sector as a whole make a significant contribution to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football.

Because of this, there is no shortage of opportunities for those operating as intermediaries to make lucrative introductions between betting firms and football clubs. Where there are such large sums at stake, however, it is important to ensure any rights to commission for such introductions are properly protected.

Last week, sports intermediary ‘Winlink Marketing Limited’ had their claim for commission against Liverpool FC dismissed in its entirety due to what was, in essence, lack of contractual certainty.

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Football fan engagement limited to broadcast again

The Premier League resumed on 12 September 2020 and initially plans had been in place for an October return for fans to be allowed in stadia, with home fans only. Yesterday, following an announcement from the government of a spike in coronavirus cases in the UK, those plans were put on hold indefinitely.

Back in May, Sport Shorts considered how Europe’s top football leagues were dealing with the global pandemic, all of which, at that stage, had been forced to come to a grinding halt. Project Restart brought football back on 17 June 2020, but fans had to settle for the digital experience as they were precluded from attending matches. Suddenly, all of the football was available all of the time, but this was little consolation for those dedicated season ticket holders that had already paid upfront for the 2019/20 season. Sadly, the position for fans this season looks like it is going to be all too familiar.

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Preparing the Pitch – England’s Return to Grassroots Football

On July 18, the English Football Association (the “FA”) announced plans for a ‘phased return’ to the pitch. For our American readers, the FA (formed in 1863) is the oldest football association in the world. It is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory, which includes England and the three, self-governing island territories off the coast of Great Britain: Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. The FA is a member of both the Union of European Football Associations (“UEFA”) and FIFA, and it holds a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (“IFAB”), which is responsible for the Laws of the Game (i.e., the codified rules of association football).

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Managing Coronavirus in the NBA: A Success Story

The NBA returned to action in July with teams currently in the process of competing in eight regular season matches before the playoffs commence.Basketball arena

COVID-19

The return to action has been full of drama on the court and has been, without a doubt, a success. In the most recent round of COVID testing, all 343 players tested inside the league bubble at Disney World tested negative for the third week in a row. Players who have tested positive are required to quarantine until they test negative. Similarly, players who leave the bubble or breach the bubble’s rules will have to quarantine for at least four days and be required to test negative before exiting quarantine. However, Lou Williams, of the Los Angeles Clippers, was required to quarantine for 10 days after attending a funeral (which was sanctioned by the league) but appeared to break the league’s rules by visiting a restaurant before returning to the bubble. This demonstrates the NBA’s careful and precautionary approach to matters in Orlando. Continue Reading

Prize promotions in sport

With the sporting world wrestling with the effects of COVID-19, stakeholders in the industry are considering various ways in which they may boost engagement with fans and increase their profile. Carlton Daniel and Ailin O’Flaherty recently wrote an article for Sports Business Daily looking at the benefits and challenges of running international prize draws for those operating in the sports sector as well as some key legal issues to consider. You can read the article here. If you are considering running a prize draw, please contact Carlton Daniel or Ailin O’Flaherty for further information on how Squire Patton Boggs can support you.

Women’s Sport in lockdown: Rugby’s next phase

Unlike the men’s competition, which is set to restart in August following a COVID-19 enforced suspension, the top tier of English women’s rugby, the Tyrells Premier 15s (“Premier 15s”), was declared null and void back in March.  Regulation 22.9 of the Rugby Football Union (“RFU”) Regulations brought the season to a premature end:

“The Tyrrells Premier 15s season shall be deemed concluded on 16 March 2020, there shall be no playoffs, and there shall be no winner of that competition.” Continue Reading

The postponement of Tokyo 2020: Sponsor perspectives

The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected many areas of the sporting world, resulting in cancellations and postponements across the globe. The Olympic and Paralympic Games (together, the “Games”) are just two of many high-profile events that have been affected by the pandemic. The Games were due to take place in Tokyo, Japan between July and September 2020. However, both events were postponed, with the Olympic Games now due to take place between 23 July and 8 August 2021 and the Paralympic Games due to take place between 24 August and 5 September 2021. This is a momentous decision; it is the first time since the Second World War that the Games have been postponed. Organisers took the decision following World Health Organisation advice. The 2021 Games will still take place in Tokyo and they will keep the ‘Tokyo 2020’ name. Continue Reading

FIFA announces changes to the transfer window

Sports Shorts previously commented on the FIFA guidelines that were recently published to address some of the practical issues that arose as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. FIFA has now published temporary amendments to its FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTP“), which are binding. FIFA also published recommendations in response to Frequently Asked Questions, which are non-binding.

The temporary amendments are as follows.football

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The suspension or the end of the 3pm blackout?

With less than one week to go until the Premier League resumes, English football fans are going to have the opportunity to watch every game for the first time ever. On 3 April 2020 UEFA announced that it had accepted a request from the Premier League to suspend the 3pm blackout rule which has prevented broadcasters from showing 3pm games on Saturdays since long before the Premier League era. With so many matches to be played in quick succession, only a handful will actually take place at 3pm on a Saturday, but this could be a significant step towards changing football broadcasting for good. Could this be the historical spark that changes the status quo?

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NBA answers a number of questions about season resumption

Since our last article about the challenges faced by the NBA as a result of COVID-19, the NBA’s Board of Governors voted to resume the season on 31 July at Disney World Orlando.

The Board of Governors is made up of the owners of each NBA team and voted 29-1 to resume the season. As predicted, the season’s resumption involves a modification of the usual season format. Continue Reading

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