2 Hare Court’s Sports Law Newsletter
As Head of Chambers at 2 Hare Court it gives me great pleasure to be able to introduce this inaugural sports law newsletter, compiled by members of Chambers’ sports law team. Building on our combined experiences in this increasingly prominent area of practice, it is hoped that this and future editions of our sports law newsletter will provide analysis and insight that others in this sector will find informative, interesting, and practically valuable.
Having attracted the greatest controversy in cricket since the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal of 2010, Robert Dacre and Tom Cornell review the recent fallout of the Australian ball-tampering story, and question whether the penalties imposed thus far are proportionate, or perhaps the result of unprecedented levels of pressure from the court of public opinion.
Recent concerns over security at West Ham fixtures is a timely reminder of the necessary partnership between sports clubs and the police at large-scale sporting events. And with police resources continuing to be put under pressure, Lewis MacDonald analyses the legal principles governing that partnership, and how it may need to be reviewed in the future.
We welcome any feedback and suggestions for future editions which can be submitted here. Equally, please feel free to forward this newsletter on to any colleagues who may be interested. They will be able to subscribe to future editions by following this link.
“If they sign Mbappé, you could rip up Financial Fair Play. Since it was brought in you could argue it’s gone the other way. It’s obscene now.”
So said Brendan Rodgers, manager of Scottish football club Celtic, last year after his team were drawn in the same group as Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League. The Champions League is Europe’s most prestigious club competition, and Paris Saint-Germain had just made the record-shattering double signing of Kylian Mbappé from Monaco and Neymar from Barcelona. The arrangement for the first was a season-long loan with an option to buy for a reported sum of 180 million euros. Neymar’s signing, on the other hand, was an outright transfer for a fee of 222 million euros. The latter deal caused consternation when it was finally agreed (September 2017), with numerous football associations and clubs immediately raising the issue of a potential breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) Regulations. Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish La Liga, accused PSG of “peeing in the swimming pool.”
On 24 March 2018, the Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera doctoring a cricket ball with sandpaper to obtain an unfair competitive advantage during his side’s third test match against South Africa. It quickly emerged that the Australian captain, Steve Smith, knew about the ball-tampering and had condoned it. Moreover, the Australian vice-captain, David Warner, accepted that he had instigated the attempt at cheating and had even shown Bancroft how to manipulate the ball. These confessions made headlines around the world and sent shock-waves through the cricketing community. Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, weighed in on the scandal, labelling it a “terrible disgrace”, and calling on Cricket Australia, the governing body for cricket in Australia, to act “decisively and emphatically”…
The thorny issue of special police services (‘SPS’) continues to trouble the higher courts. Late last year, in Ipswich Town FC v The Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary  EWCA Civ 1484, Ipswich were the latest in a succession of football clubs to challenge the police’s approach, this time with the Football League wading in as well. The subject is likely to remain high on practitioners’ radars, and a stock take is therefore worthwhile.
The issue is this: where resources are provided to police a sporting event, what can a police force charge for under section 25 of the Police Act 1996 as constituting SPS?