Today I welcome a new guest author to the blog. In this interesting post, Liam Smith suggests that while we are all looking forward to big future sporting events such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup, one profession in particular will be more excited than most. Is the legal profession ready to profit from the sporting endeavours of others?

Sport provides valuable opportunities for budding athletes to become recognised on a global scale. Yet the globalisation of sport also provides the ideal platform for law firms to increase their own growth and success.

Sport in Latin America and Asia is growing at a considerable rate. Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games while China will host the 2014 Winter Olympics and Youth Olympic Games respectively. These are, arguably, the greatest sporting events in the world today and will no doubt have a substantial impact on these emerging economies. The substantial sums of money invested into these events means there is a vast amount of potential opportunities available to law firms, not only before, but after the events too.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games has seen a considerable amount of urban development in the surrounding areas of the city. The Rio 2016 Sustainability Management Plan has outlined a number of key areas in Rio which will see considerable development. Accelerated development provides fruitful opportunities to law firms in the commercial sector. Buildings suitable for shops, restaurants and bars will all be available in both the lead up to the Olympics and after. Many international brands will want to take advantage of the global nature of the Olympics, the enormous upturn in footfall and the benefits of rejuvenated region.

Dynamic and global law firms need to take note of the opportunities presented to them in the aftermath of events such as the Olympics. A large amount of real estate and infrastructure which will have built specifically for the sporting event needs to be considered. Rio 2016 organisers place a considerable amount of emphasises on sustainability. Stadia, accommodation buildings and other structures all need to have a life after the Olympics so firms should look to ensure their sustainability by looking to represent potential tenants and investors.

We do not have to look far to see the opportunities presented after major sporting events. London’s Olympic Stadium since its inception has seen its fair share of controversy over what would happen to it after the Olympics have finished. The stadium saw hundreds of applications of interest but ultimately West Ham United and Newham Council were chosen as the new tenants. This decision resulted in legal battles between Tottenham Hotspur and the Olympic Park Legacy Commission (OPLC) in which the former appealed for a judicial review in overturning the decision.

Further legal problems came about when it was discovered that an OPLC employee had carried out consultancy work for West Ham United without the permission of the OPLC. From a strictly legal perspective, the opportunities presented by stadia like this are numerous. Redevelopment and further construction are common in such scenarios. The Olympic Stadium for example is undergoing a considerable amount of redevelopment in order to bring it in line with UEFA’s category 4 venue requirements.

This leads nicely on to the common regulatory issues brought about by redevelopment, new tenants and new sporting opportunities. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) were keen for the Olympic Stadium to host certain games during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, however, the International Rugby Board have certain strict requirements for stadiums being used in major tournaments – predominantly in the Olympic Stadiums case being free from advertising. Other issues that stadia can face is whether the pitch size is appropriate for a certain sport, as highlighted by the MLB’s interest in hosting international games at the stadium.

Brazil is certainly shaping up to be an interesting market to be involved in with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games being so close together. While I take nothing away from the World Cup – as it is one of the greatest sporting spectacles on the planet – from a legal and commercial perspective it may well end up being something of a dress rehearsal. Firms and lawyers need to be acutely aware of the unique nature of sport. Not even politics, music nor film can come anywhere close to the sheer popularity that sport provides and the demands that need to be catered for. It is ultimately these demands and requirements that create the novel yet highly lucrative circumstances that lawyers will find themselves in.

The nature of sporting events is that these circumstances and issues will encompass areas such as planning law, sponsorship agreements, real estate and dispute resolution to name but a few. There’s no doubt that the opportunities presented are exciting, innovative and thought-provoking.

By Liam Smith Copyright © 2014

The views expressed are those of the writer(s) and may not reflect the views of JvdLD. This article does not constitute legal advice. In relation to posts by a guest Author(s), these are made by them through their own practical experience or knowledge of the subject in question or as a matter of their own opinions. Opinion posts expressed by the Author(s) or by readers of the blog on the site’s comment section are those of the individuals in question and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of John van der Luit-Drummond or JvdLD. The copyright of the individual Authors who guest post on this blog are theirs alone and John van der Luit-Drummond lays no claim to their intellectual property other than to be allowed through mutual agreement to display their posts/articles on this blog and share via social media such as sites as (although not limited to) Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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