– one of UK’s largest sports law practices
LONDON – Today a number of the UK’s most prominent sports lawyers launch a new law firm, Northridge. Based in London, the top tier team has moved from law firm Charles Russell Speechlys with four founding partners Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen. They launch with an enviable client list and a starting headcount of 16 fee earners.
Ellis and Lynam had headed up the Sports Group at Charles Russell Speechlys for the last five years, leading the team’s promotion to tier 1 in both Chambers and Legal 500.
The team’s clients from day one will include The Football Association, leading Premier League football clubs, the Welsh Rugby Union, Premiership Rugby and a roster of high profile sports stars such as Dele Alli, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Founding partner Ian Lynam stated: “We have been delighted with the response from all of our clients in following us to Northridge. Our focus and scale will enable us to build on our position as the team to turn to in the sports industry when the stakes are highest.”
Founding partner Jonathan Ellis added: “The quality and depth of our team is what sets us apart. Our associates have market-leading experience, with many of them being trusted advisors to our core clients. We will start on day one with 16 fee earners and have ambitious recruitment plans for the coming year. We are committed to repaying the confidence that the team has shown in us by operating an inclusive management structure and by having each member of the team share in the success of the firm.”
Northridge will provide a broad range of services from disputes and regulatory to commercial and corporate. It will advise on the most complex disputes and investigations, business critical corporate and commercial deals, governance and regulation for governing bodies, and the most sensitive, high profile issues for professional athletes. Examples of recent work include:
- acting for Farhad Moshiri on his investment in Everton FC
- representing The FA at the Hillsborough inquest
- successfully defending the IAAF in appeal proceedings before CAS
- acting as the Solicitors and Secretariat on the on-going Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis.
Northridge lawyers are recognised, individually and collectively, as leading advisors to clients in the sports sector. The 2017 edition of Chambers states that Lynam’s “knowledge of the sports industry is unparalleled “and describes Ellis as “one of the leading sports regulatory lawyers in the industry”. In the last month Ellis has been honoured as one of sports industry’s Leaders Under 40, Lynam been listed by Who’s Who Legal as one of 10 Thought Leaders in European Sport and James Eighteen ranked by Legal 500 as one of the Next Generation of lawyers working in the sports sector.
Beyond sport, the Northridge team is recognised by the directories for general commercial advice and in media and entertainment for “particular expertise in advertising and marketing matters”. Jon Walters has a particularly broad practice, with Legal 500 recommending him as a leading lawyer in three separate categories (commercial contracts, TMT and sport). An enviable client base of businesses in the digital, gambling and leisure sectors and beyond move with them alongside the core sports practice.
The four partners are underpinned by three Managing Associates: Hannah Brunskill (also Northridge’s COO), Ben Rees and Paul Shapiro. The team also includes four associates, two trainees, three paralegals, an office manager and a PA. Northridge is supported by Kindleworth, a consultancy that has been behind the launch of some of the most high profile law firms in the last few years.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY SAYS:
“The FA has had a long standing relationship with Jon Ellis and the rest of the team. I also worked with Jon in my former role at the Rugby Football Union. The team’s advice is commercial, strategic but above all the team knows The FA so well that the advice is always ideally bespoke to The FA. We look forward to continuing to work with the team in the new firm, Northridge, which promises to be a huge success.” Polly Handford, Director of Legal and Governance -The FA
“I’ve had the pleasure to work with Ian and his team for many years at Arsenal and on several projects subsequently. Their knowledge on football’s regulatory matters is unparalleled and they are forceful and shrewd negotiators. I wish them every success in their new venture and I will certainly be supporting them.” David Dein, former Vice-Chairman of Arsenal FC
“I was appointed by the IAAF Ethics Board to investigate alleged violations of the IAAF Codes by Papa Massata Diack, Valentin Balakhnichev, Alexei Melnikov and Gabriel Dolle. Following the decision of the Ethics Board to suspect the first three for life for their involvement in the Sobukhova affair, they appealed unsuccessfully to CAS. During the appeals to CAS, I worked closely with James Eighteen and his team in the preparation for the appeal and during the 4-day hearing. They demonstrated a mastery of the intricacies of CAS procedures. Their work was outstanding and the success of the appeal owed a great deal to their extensive work and tactical skills.” The Right Honourable Sir Anthony Hooper
“Jon Walters and the team act as an extra arm of the business. They provided invaluable assistance on the Gaga deal guiding us through the complex design, delivery, IP and liability issues.” Nancy Tilbury, Executive Creative Director and Co-Founder of XO
“I’ve worked with the Northridge team for many years on projects ranging from acquiring teams to establishing new competitions. They have a great understanding of the sports business and its regulatory landscape, coupled with a commercial and pragmatic approach to getting the job done. They are also great people to work with.” Dan Jones, Head of the Sport Business Group at Deloitte
“The greatest compliment I can pay the team at Northridge is that they aren’t like other lawyers. They understand our business and our industry. They align themselves with us, they know what we want and what our elite sport customers need. They don’t tell me the law, they tell me what to do.” Alan Clarke, co-founder and CEO of STATSports
Northridge service overview:
- Resolving sports disputes at domestic tribunals, FIFA DRC, FIFA PSC and CAS
- Advising on High Court cases from high stakes commercial litigation to defending challenges to decisions of governing bodies
- Drafting the rules and regulations that govern sport
- Advising governing bodies, clubs and businesses on governance and driving reform
- Protecting the integrity of sport, from global integrity reviews to high profile disciplinary cases
- Launching new competitions and businesses (inside and outside of sport)
- Acquisitions, joint ventures and private fundraising (including SEIS/EIS advice)
- Sponsorship, merchandising and exploitation of rights
- The full suite of commercial contracts for businesses, both digital and bricks and mortar
- Player transfers, player contracts and image rights
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Kathryn Adamson, Kathryn@legalcomms.com, Mobile (+44) 0771 713 3595
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Football Association, Welsh Rugby Union, Premiership Rugby, Scottish FA, BAGS, Greyhound TV
Premier League and Championship football clubs
Dele Alli, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling , Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ilkay Gündogan, Asmir Begovic, Calum Chambers, Jadon Sancho, Reece Oxford, Gaël Clichy, Alex Song, Kolo Toure, Will Hughes, Patrick Bamford, Ben Gibson, Ethan Ampadu, Costel Pantilimon
STATSports, XO, Tok.tv, TRM, MatchPlus, Deuce
Farhad Moshiri, Red & White Holdings, Bessemer Venture Partners
Founding Partner Biographies
Jonathan is a commercial litigator who specialises in the sports sector. He has established himself as a trusted advisor to some of the biggest names in sport, with clients describing him as “technically excellent and extremely responsive” and as being “a superb litigator” and “one of the leading sports regulatory lawyers in the industry.”
Jonathan has acted for The FA for more than 12 years, undertaking a wide range of work from advising on the regulation of intermediaries through to representing The FA at the Hillsborough Inquests. Other highlights have included representing leading Premier League and European football clubs before CAS and successfully defending the WRU in high court litigation. He is currently acting as the Solicitor and Secretary to the on-going Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis. Away from sport, Jonathan’s experience includes acting for broadcasters, investors and retailers.
Jonathan is ranked as a leading individual by Chambers (Band 1), Legal 500 and in the International Who’s Who of Sports & Entertainment Lawyers. He was included in Leaders Under 40 Class of 2017 and has featured in profiles written by the Lawyer, the Times and Sport Business. Jonathan is a lecturer on the BASL/DMU Postgraduate Certificate in Sports Law, is an editor of World Sports Law Report and is a contributing author to “Sport: Law and Practice,” “Football and the Law” and the England & Wales chapter of The Sports Law Review.
James is a commercial litigator who specialises in dispute resolution, governance and regulation.
James has for many years advised major governing bodies such as The FA, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and Premiership Rugby on a range of contentious and regulatory matters. In addition, he advises individuals and teams, regularly appearing before disciplinary panels, the High Court and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
His recent highlights include successfully defending lifetime bans imposed by the IAAF for corruption, working on the Independent Review of integrity in tennis and acting for The FA in the Hillsborough Inquests.
Away from sport, James’ experience of the gambling sector includes regulation and licensing of casinos, the Gambling Act 2005 and acting in contentious matters for and against bookmakers.
James is ranked in Chambers and recognised as a Next Generation Lawyer in Legal 500 who describe him as ‘impressive’ and someone who provides ‘quick, reasoned and sensible advice’. He lectures on the BASL/DMU postgraduate certificate in sports law and is a contributing author to the forthcoming textbook Football and The Law.
Jon provides commercial and corporate advice to clients. He has led on governance reforms for The FA, the launch of the Hockey Pro League for the FIH, Premier League kit sponsorships for Nike, and the WRU’s deal with its regional teams. With experience through secondments as Acting Head of Legal at IMG for Rugby World Cup matters and at Brawn GP F1 team, he balances legal expertise with first-hand understanding of the way in which client’s businesses work.
Jon’s experience beyond sport is wide and varied. He has acted for technology businesses, consumer retail brands, telecoms infrastructure providers and private equity houses on corporate and commercial matters. A particular passion is supporting emerging businesses utilising technology to disrupt their marketplace.
He is recommended in Legal 500 in three categories: sport (“commercial and regulatory expert”), commercial contracts and media and entertainment (“particular expertise in advertising and marketing matters”). Jon is also an editorial board member of LawInSport, a contributing author to the BASL Sports Law Yearbook and has appeared on Sky News, CNBC and in The Times as a legal commentator.
Ian has wide expertise across corporate, commercial and regulatory matters. He is recognised by the legal directories as a leading “commercial dealmaker” “who has become a clear leader in the UK” and “an excellent lawyer, whose knowledge of the sports industry is unparalleled”. His expertise includes financial regulation of sport (including salary caps and financial fair play), mergers and acquisitions in sport, financing, governance, rules and regulations, sponsorship agreements, transfers, player contracts and image rights. He has a particular expertise in the use of data in sport, has spoken widely on the subject and sits on the board of STATSports as a non-executive director.
Ian’s recent experience includes advising Farhad Moshiri on his investment in Everton FC, advising a leading apparel brand on some of the highest value kit deals in football, advising Premiership Rugby on a wide range of regulatory issues and advising some of the highest profile individuals in sport including Dele Alli, Thierry Henry, Raheem Sterling, Cesc Fabregas and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain.
Ian is a contributing author to a number of leading textbooks including “Sport: Law and Practice”, “Football and the Law”, “The Sports Law Review” and “The Negotiator’s Desk Reference”. He regularly speaks at conferences (domestic and international, including Web Summit and the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference) and lectures on a number of undergraduate and postgraduate university programmes.
Ian is ranked as a “Leading Individual” in Sport by Chambers and Legal 500 and as a “Thought Leader” in European Sports Law bv Who’s Who Legal. He is admitted to practise in England & Wales, Ireland and New York.