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Tom acts for a range of clients in high value, complex and cross-border commercial disputes. He has particular expertise dealing with contractual disputes, company and shareholder disputes, professional negligence claims, insurance disputes and insolvency and restructuring issues. Tom also acts regularly for both insurers and insureds in relation to coverage disputes, complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service and in judicial review proceedings.
Tom has a particular focus on the sport and entertainment sector and is recognised as a leading sport lawyer. Tom frequently acts for football clubs (including domestic and international teams), athletes, sponsors and international and national sport governing bodies on a range of contractual and regulatory matters.
Tom also acts for musicians, managers and record and publishing companies in relation to a variety of issues.
“All businesses, regardless of their industry, need to be alive to the potential reputational damage that can be caused by such issues and should have clear guidance and policies in place to ensure those working for them understand what is acceptable.
“Although Gray’s comments were shared before he was at Burnley, a link to his club appears on his profile page and there is no mention about any comments being his own.
“Some fans could therefore wrongly interpret that the club shared Andre Gray’s views which is hugely embarrassing and explains why Burnley issued a statement to confirm that they do ‘not condone any discriminatory behaviour by any employee’.
“Football is a unique business and it can lead to young men suddenly becoming famous and under the public spotlight almost overnight. It’s vital that all professional clubs have programmes in place to educate them about what is and is not acceptable to share on social media and the potential damage any offensive comments could cause to their career.”
“Brands are already queuing up to sign the stars that helped Team GB to their greatest ever medal haul and for many it will be the first time they have been faced with contract negotiations and discussions over image rights.
“Sponsors see medal winners as worth their weight in gold with their association having a positive impact on a huge range of products and services.
“For the household names it will be business as usual. But for athletes competing in lesser known sports, the new found fame could represent a dramatic turn in fortunes.
“The reality is that many athletes never experience the riches on show in other sports such as football, golf and tennis. Although their Olympic campaigns will have been financed by Sport England and UK Sport, a large number of athletes will be unprepared for the commercial opportunities that now await them.
“The issue can often be timing, with sponsors desperate to sign these stars up immediately whilst success is still fresh in people’s mind and their faces still adorn the front and back of newspapers.
“When these offers start to come it is vital that these hugely talented sportsmen and women take time to study the contracts and get an expert view so it’s clear what is on offer and what they’ll be required to do for the money.
“Sports agents and lawyers have a role in this process, and from a legal perspective, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind. These include:
• What, exactly, is the athlete selling, and to whom?
• Should the contract be negotiated through an image rights structure?
• Does the new opportunity infringe any existing arrangement, or agreements with the athlete’s governing bodies?
“These are just a few of the many issues that will need to be negotiated now the stars of Team GB have returned from Rio."
“Offering a player a seven year contract – as is speculated here – is relatively unusual and is the reserved privilege of only the highest profile players. Such contracts are technically quite complicated so as to mitigate against the risks inherent in a long-term deal.
“For example, Bale’s advisors will insist on regular salary reviews to ensure his earnings keep pace with other high profile players and Bale may be able to insist that he is at all times the most highly paid player on Real Madrid’s books for the duration of the contract.
“Conversely, Real Madrid will want safeguards in place should Bale become injured, lose his form, or should his current “golden boy” reputation be tarnished in any way. The value of Bale to Real Madrid is far more than his talent on field; they will be relying on him to drive shirt sales and promote the club globally.
“Because of this, the negotiations are likely to be intense and lengthy, but there’s every chance a long-term deal could be agreed bearing in mind the mutual interest to both parties.”
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