This week we’re all talking about…..the beautiful game

There were some bleary-eyed lawyers at the start of this week after high drama at the end of the football transfer window.


The annual merry-go-round of buying and selling players came to a climax on Monday (1 September) night with millions of pounds flying in all directions.

Clubs had until midnight to get their paperwork sorted in time for the new season. But the real hard work fell to the lawyers who had the job of frantically trying to stand up the complex deals created by slippery agents, footballers egos and clubs turned international businesses.

Busiest of all was Hammonds, which advised on the 200m sale of Manchester City FC to an Arab royal family, as well as the biggest-ever Premiership signing.

A Hammonds team led by corporate partner David Hull represented the club in the sale, which was sold by former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after corruption allegations threatened his suitability to run the football club.

The same Hammonds team advised UK Sports Investments, Shinawatras investment vehicle, on its 81.6m takeover of the club last summer (TheLawyer.com, 22 June 2007).

A Shearman & Sterling team led by City-based M&A partner Laurence Levy acted for the new owner, Abu Dhabi United Group, which is a consortium led by the Middle Easts answer to Alan Sugar, Arab celebrity businessman Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim.

Hammonds also advised Manchester City in the last-minute action relating to the transfer window, acting on the surprise transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid for 32.5m the most expensive player in Premiership history.

Elsewhere, the sports practice at Brabners represented Manchester United on the protracted transfer of Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur for 30.75m, complicated by the last-minute loan of Man Utd striker Fraizer Campbell to Spurs.

Brabners also advised Liverpool on the transfer of Albert Riera from Spanish league club Espanyol for 8m.

“We got the pizzas in: it was a late one, said one partner who worked on the Berbatov deal. Some people think its glamorous work because its football, but its still just ploughing through contracts long into the night.

Elsewhere, a Slaughter and May team led by partner Andrew Jolly advised Arsenal on the signing of French international Samir Nasri from Marseille, Welsh international Aaron Ramsey from Cardiff City, Mikael Silvestre from Manchester United and Francis Coquelin from Stade Lavallois Mayenne FC.

In addition, the firm advised Arsenal on the sale of Alexander Hleb to Barcelona, Justin Hoyte to Middlesbrough and Gilberto Silva to Panathinaikos, as well as the loan of Phillipe Senderos to AC Milan.