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Interested in working in sports law? This page will aim to give a brief overview of this legal practice area in England and Wales.

What Is Sports Law?

Sports law would be best described as the application of the law to a sporting context. It has been known to incorporate acts and case law, from areas of law including but not limited to:

  • Contract Law relating to a sportsperson’s sponsors
  • Employment law relating to one’s club or federation contracts
  • European Union Law relating to the impact of freedom of movement on transfers
  • Criminal Law concerning doping or on-field altercations

Unlike areas such as conveyancing, criminal or family law, this specialism cannot necessarily be described as an individual entity that you can train in. Rather than being able to simply study and qualify in in the subject, you would need to have a working knowledge of various legal specialties.

Sports Law in England & Wales

In the latter part of the 19th Century, courts began to accept that sport in any form cannot continue to exist without checks or regulations. Some commentators would seek to argue the law stops at the touchline but the actions of both Parliament and judges make clear that the law can and must regulate spectators and sportspeople.

The law has faced problems for example when examining on-field violence, with judges debating whether the conduct falls short of the law or is, in fact, acceptable within the confines of the sporting arena.

The following acts give a brief overview of this legal area:

  • Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975
  • 1986
  • Football Spectators Act 1989
  • Football Offences Act 1991
  • Football (Disorder) Act 2000

How to Get into Sports Law

To give yourself the best chance of starting a career in the field, you should:

  • Have an interest and knowledge in sport. Unlike other areas of law where knowing the substantive content is arguably enough, you cannot succeed in the field without a wide interest and passion for the subject
  • Read the key cases. Whereas most other areas of law are resolved under English and Welsh Law, this is often not the case in sport. The highest appellate body is the Court of Arbitration for Sport who make decisions on cases using their own principles mixed with Swiss Law
  • Gain relevant work experience – whether that’s at a law firm with a sports law department or in another career field within sports

Salaries

There are no fixed salaries for solicitors and sports law salaries will inevitably vary based on the firm’s size and location. The most up-to-date figures according to the Law Society indicate that in 2018, the recommended annual salaries were as follows:

  • Trainee in London – £22,121
  • Trainee Outside London – £19,619
  • Fully Qualified Solicitor in Private Practice – £62,000
  • Fully Qualified Solicitor in Greater London – £88,000
  • South England – £63,000
  • Midlands and Wales – £46,000
  • North England – £43,000

Where barristers are concerned, they are seen to have more specialist knowledge, allowing them to out-earn solicitors by a significant margin. That being said they are self-employed and work can be sporadic, whereas solicitors are guaranteed a regular salary.

Firms

Some firms in and out of London that deal with the subject are as follows:

  • Brabners LLP
  • Walker Morris Solicitors
  • Richard Nelson LLP
  • Harbottle & Lewis
  • Morgan Sports Law

Relevant Books

NameAuthorPrice
Sports LawSimon Gardiner, John O’Leary, Roger Welch, Simon Boyes and Urvashi Naidoo£35
Law and Sport in Contemporary SocietyLaw and Sport in Contemporary Society£48
Ian HewittSporting Justice: 101 Sporting Encounters with the Law£4

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