Lawyers can play a significant part in the success of major sporting events, City lawyers told the Global Law Summit yesterday afternoon.
Magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was asked to help with London’s successful bid in 2003 to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and was appointed the Games’ official legal services provider in 2009.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the globalisation of sport, Freshfields partner Tim Jones said: ‘When London first started talking about the bid for the 2012 games, most people thought it was a long shot. Paris and Madrid were seen as much more organised, [and had] a better history of putting on major events.
‘One of our first tasks was: can we come up with a governance structure for London that will reassure others that this decision can be taken quickly and efficiently?’
Jones said lawyers contributed significantly to the efficiency and effectiveness of London’s governance structure.
Legal work included the development of ‘robust and comprehensive’ contractual protections. By keeping the procurement process for LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) – responsible for staging the games – cooperative and collaborative, Jones said there were almost no legal disputes or contentious issues arising from the winding up of LOCOG.
Highlighting the extraordinary amount of legal work that was involved in the Games, Jones said around 7,000 contracts were involved in putting on the torch relay for the Olympics.
Jones was joined in the panel discussion by Law Society president Andrew Caplen (pictured), Manchester City Football Club GC Simon Cliff and barrister Adam Lewis QC of Blackstone Chambers. The discussion was chaired by Sean Cottrell, CEO of sports law website LawInSport.
Caplen, a Southampton FC season-ticket holder, said he was an ‘avid sports fan’. But addressing the issue of sports and human rights, Caplen said he was deeply concerned that the ‘joyful’ occasion of sport had such a ‘dark underbelly’, such as people from poorer communities allegedly being forced from their homes to make way for building projects.
Meanwhile, multinational club structures are also raising new legal issues, Cliff said. They raised issues such as competition integrity and third-party ownership, he observed.
The Manchester City family incorporates three other clubs: Japanese J-League club Yokohama F-Marinos, Australian club Melbourne Heart and the New York City Football Club.
Highlighting governing body FIFA’s ban on third-party ownership for instance, Cliff said players in the US’s Major Soccer League (MLS) were signed and registered by the MLS, employed by the MLS and allocated to the club. ‘Just from an issue of control, if you loaned a player into the MLS, there is an issue whether MLS as a single entity structure is in itself in breach of those regulations,’ Cliff said. FIFA, he said, was ‘looking at that question’.
Another legal issue was the Football Association’s rule banning participants from betting in football. ‘I, as a Manchester City employee, [cannot] bet on any match in the Premier League, as we’re playing in the Premier League competition. The FA extended this last summer… to all participants to do with football globally.’
‘Can my Australian colleagues bet on football [games] given the FA rules?’ he asked.
Cliff said Manchester City had taken a ‘very restrictive approach’ to the issue. As a policy, Australian colleagues – and others – are not allowed to bet on any football globally.