Skip to content

Archive for

Nothing more important in beautiful game


Brexit – watch out #sports

Lest we forget, Brexit, an insight on sporting implications kindly authorised to be reproduced by  GlobalSportsJobs’ legal partner, Couchmans LLP – as the author of the below article.

“Following more than three months of guesswork and intrigue, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has provided much-needed insight into the timetable for the triggering of Article 50 and the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the notice will be issued by the end of March 2017, beginning a two-year period of negotiations with the aim of completing the process by 31st March 2019.

These negotiations are the subject of immense debate. Apart from those who don’t accept that Brexit should take place at all (a sizeable majority in some regions), there is a spectrum of support for different Brexit ‘options’, ranging from ‘hard’ to ‘soft’.

But with the road ahead depending on the views of all 27 other EU member states, it is difficult to tell at this stage what type of Brexit will prevail. The sheer number of overlapping commercial, regulatory and legal issues that require consideration and renegotiation is staggering, carrying huge implications for the international sports industry.

Amputation, not resignation?

In legal terms, the process of Brexit is more akin to the amputation of a limb than the resignation of a club member.

Some British civil servants have described the amputation process as ‘spectacularly complex’, such is the depth of the connective tissue, arteries, nerves, muscles and veins between the UK and the EU. Cutting through each thread will be a painstaking and lengthy process, with some estimates suggesting it could take 10 years for the full set of arrangements to be negotiated to conclusion.

The proposed repeal bill removing the European Communities Act of 1972 may assist the process, taking all current EU legislation into British law and thereafter permitting the UK Parliament to amend or cancel any unwanted legislation over time. However, this necessary step does not disguise the difficult path ahead.

The implications both for the severed limb and the remaining body are complex and serious. The Article 50 procedure was clearly not devised with the objective of making it easy for EU members to exit. Once the two-year resignation process has started, it can only be extended by the unanimous agreement of all of the members. If negotiations haven’t concluded within 24 months, the amputation will take place in any event. This should perhaps focus negotiators’ attention on the key objectives; they will not want a situation in which, at midnight on 31st March 2019, all treaty obligations between the EU and the UK fall away with nothing to replace them.

However, such a timetable equally allows a minority of members to exercise more leverage over the outcome than they might usually have. Either way there is something of a gamble involved in commencing the Article 50 procedure.

One possible means of effectively extending the timeframe might be for a withdrawal agreement to be reached via a qualified majority (65% rather than 100%) of the European Council, a step which itself includes an extension of time beyond the two years within which to conclude certain aspects of negotiations. However, the legal and political legitimacy of such an approach might be questionable, if its true objective is to circumvent the two-year notice period.

The common theme running through all this complexity is uncertainty, which is having a significant and largely hidden impact on sport and other industries.

M&A activity in the UK has fallen substantially since the referendum decision in June 2016. Investors, sports bodies and others are undoubtedly sitting on their hands, waiting for some clarity over the parameters of negotiations. Will the UK be forced into an isolated, protectionist approach, or will the remaining EU members be prepared to consider a form of ‘Brexit Lite’, given the UK’s position as the sixth largest economy in the world? Will the pound be further devalued? Will tariffs apply to UK products and services – including, for example, sports rights?

Impact on sports deals

Sports contracts pertaining to, amongst other things, media rights, sponsorship and hosting arrangements are often multi-year in duration and international in scope. Sports bodies, media owners, sponsors, athletes and others who seek to enter into pan-European, multi-year contracts and arrangements, extending beyond March 2019, have legitimate concerns around how to protect their position in this new environment.

Of course, one measure that should certainly be considered is taking legal advice, which will likely focus on two key areas:

1.      What might be the impact of a sudden change in the law and/or circumstances affecting deals

2.      What steps might be taken (including contractual provisions) to guard against the implications of these?

The latter might be added, for example, to a ‘force majeure’ type clause, and/or a ‘material adverse change’ provision could be drawn up to tackle specific concerns that might apply to the contract in question. This might include termination rights in certain circumstances, or possibly the right to convert the UK portion of an international transaction into a separate contract, provided it made sense for the parties once the effect of the UK’s withdrawal agreement is known.

There may also be opportunities to consider the jurisdictional positioning of rights ownership either within or outside the future boundaries of the Single Market.

Meanwhile, the changes in free movement will undoubtedly have an effect on sport – and football in particular. Any potential changes to visa regulations may encourage longer term contract extensions and signing of EU players before the 2019 deadline. The 2018 football summer transfer window will potentially be the last to take place while the UK is in the Single Market and we may see a rush of activity as clubs seek to secure continental talent.

One issue many sports bodies are already grappling with is the effect of the potential changes in trademark protection processes and laws on their existing and planned international trademark programmes. The degree to which the European trademark regime will continue to apply to UK brands remains very much up in the air and will require careful auditing and management of portfolios.

A further legal outcome of Brexit will be the ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in the UK.  Whilst the system of making preliminary references to the ECJ will come to an end, it is likely that the UK courts will continue to have regard to EU jurisprudence for guidance.  Bearing in mind the long lead time for references to be resolved, what will happen to ECJ references which are still pending at the time of Brexit? In the absence of a specific agreement as part of the Article 50 withdrawal negotiations, the simple answer is that nobody knows. Possibilities include pending references being declared devoid of purpose and therefore inadmissible, thus requiring them to be withdrawn, or the ECJ simply declaring that it no longer has jurisdiction to determine such cases.

Surgical precision

Returning to our amputation analogy, surgeons on all sides will need to work with great skill and patience to minimise damage to both patient and limb during this unprecedented operation.

Whether the process is a panacea or proves to be fatal remains to be seen. Meanwhile, sports business operators should not remain on the sidelines, but lobby for their positions to be properly represented, while factoring in the potential Brexit outcomes – ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, painless or painful, short or long – into their legal, regulatory and commercial strategies.”

Original article at:

Football is important…..

We often recite those famous words from William (‘Bill’) Shankly OBE 1913-1981 “Football’s not a matter of life or death. It’s much more important than that.” Well I thought that quote might lead in to a particularly heart-moving story from this weekend’s fixtures in junior football in Stockport.

From my perspective I posted last week on Facebook: “Feel genuinely ‘numb’ when have learned that a girl, with lovely boys, passed away today. Cannot claim to have been a close Friend, she was a former neighbour – but lovely, genuine person, who I always chatted with and smiled to. Life can be so cruel taking away a young mother when her whole life should have been ahead of her 😦 RIP x”.

This serves in to a much more important reflection, that which recounts, the braveness and heroics of the deceased, Dawn Shepherd’s Son, Cameron.  The article kindly repeated courtesy of Author, Gary Howard.

“What a gorgeous story about the very brave Cameron from his football game on Saturday..

Lisa Shepherd (Dawn’s Sister) – My Gary writes a match report after every football match and I thought you might like to read this about how wonderfully brave Cameron was today. X

“Dad, should I ask Cameron if he’d like to be captain today?”. And so the tone for the day was set, as I wiped the first of many a tear away from my eye and told Corey that, yes, that would be a lovely gesture.

After the devastating news filtered through on Thursday that Cameron’s much loved mum, Dawn, had sadly lost her brave battle with Cancer and passed away at such a stupidly young age, today was a day that I didn’t think would ever happen. Upon hearing the news, we obviously made arrangements to postpone the game. Our opponents, Cheadle and Gatley Hurricanes, couldn’t have been more accommodating and were fully prepared to cancel at a minute’s notice. If they ever get to read this, thank you.

Cameron, however, had other ideas. He got in touch late on Thursday evening via his Grandad, Brian, to say that he wanted the game to go ahead. Quite how Cam and Brian found the courage to even think about football on such a tragic day is beyond my comprehension. What’s more, however, Cam said that he wanted to play in the game in order to ‘make his mum proud’. She always was, Cam. She always was.

And so, with Cam’s wishes, the league cup game went ahead. To say it was an emotional roller-coaster would be somewhat of an understatement!

We could talk about lots of things. A last minute chance from James that went begging with the game finely (I mean frantically) poised at 2-2. Brandon’s last second winner to give us a 3-2 victory. Dan’s hop, skip and jump celebration that saw him destroy the ref’s brand new linesman’s flag. Harry running the length of the field from his goal to join in the match-winning celebration. Or Ollie Rab obtaining the dubious recognition of being our first ever player to get sent off. We could talk about all of this. But it wouldn’t mean a thing.

For today was about one brave little boy, his brave Grandad for coming along as always to support, and his brave, brave mum, who will sadly no longer see what an amazing human being her son will grow up to be.

As is so often the case in these horrendous circumstances, something happens that you just couldn’t script. And so it was, just 3 minutes into the game that Cameron himself scored to give us an early lead. As he celebrated by pointing his hands to the sky before being mobbed by his team-mates, the tissues came out on the sidelines for the first of many, many times. I’ve never seen so many grown men with ‘something in their eye’ as the whole crowd seemed to pause for a moment to grasp the emotion of what had just happened.

The next 5 minutes were a bit of a blur for everyone I suspect, players and supporters alike. So it wasn’t really surprising that Cheadle & Gatley managed to equalise after 8 minutes. To be fair, they fully deserved to be level. They matched us in nearly every area of the park, with their coach commenting how it was without doubt the best he’d ever seen his team play. Some day for them to choose that performance eh?!

2-1 down at half-time wasn’t what we were hoping for. A few strategic changes here and there, with Matty coming on to rekindle his lost love affair with defence, thankfully provided the catalyst for an improved performance in the 2nd half.

I could tell you who got our equaliser, but Hollywood scriptwriters would suggest I’m being far-fetched! But it was indeed the man of the day, Cam, who scored with just 5 minutes remaining. 4 minutes and 30 seconds later, he also played a ball through to Brandon, who found himself running through on goal with just the keeper to beat.

Time seemed to come to a stop at this point. I’ve played it back in my mind for the last few hours and, what must’ve been a 5 second process in real-life, has somehow become played out in slow-motion to take an age. I’m convinced that nobody at that ground today could have remained so composed in such circumstances as Brandon did to coolly slot home the winner.

Myself, Dan and Ian celebrated like we’ve never celebrated before. The parents celebrated like they’d never celebrated before. The lads, our boys, celebrated like they’d never celebrated before. And we cried. Like we’ve all never cried at a football match before. On the toughest day of our short history, we’d done it!

In the squad game of 9v9, we again showed what a force we could become next season. Goals from Ollie, Brandon, Harry and Luca saw us take a 4-1 victory, which thankfully wasn’t spoilt by our very own Joey Barton being sent for an early wash with the family flannel (I miss those days!). It was a great squad performance driven by Cameron playing in defence. If you didn’t fill up when he was substituted to get a standing ovation with minutes to go, unplug yourself; you’re not human.

Man of the Match for the cup game was this week voted for by the players. Such is the bond amongst this fantastic set of lads, their unanimous decision was for Cameron who deserved it for so much more than simply sentiment. In an unprecedented move, Cameron also won the award for the squad game. Again, it was fully deserved. On a day when he wanted to make his mum proud, he couldn’t have done a better job.

Thanks as always for your support. You are the extra ‘man’ that we needed today. We’ll have tougher games, but we won’t have many tougher days. And thanks on behalf of Cam for making it ‘normal’.

For Dawn. Your son couldn’t have made you prouder. Rest in peace. We miss you.”

A fundraising page has been set up to honour the life of Dawn Shepherd, who passed away on the 3rd of November 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. Dawn has two gorgeous boys called Cameron age 9 and Lewis age 11 and through this page and other fundraising we want to help these brave boys as much as possible for their future.  Please do follow this link and donate and/or publicize – it all really can help Cameron and Lewis.  Thank you for listening.

NOW please click through:

Sponsorship Campaigns

ACROBAT| FCSM, our changing branding, is overwhelmed by the growing demand from professional and grass roots sports teams

We have been welcomed back to Manchester Rugby Club. We were formerly at the Club in 2007-2009 and will now lead all sponsorship and partnering activities again. This promises to help any prospective supporters and show something for every budget – plus identify ways to help anyone get a return against predetermined investment and/or objectives.  Manchester Rugby Club is the original Manchester Football Club, and was registered as so in 1860. Other bigger Manchester football clubs subsequently had to add “City” and “United” to their names to respect the original registration. It is the only Club able to use the official Manchester crest on its shirts and as a logo. Consequently, it is the second oldest rugby union club in the World.  A 24-acre site with a mix of sporting and social facilities, teams from Under 7s to Senior Rugby, for men, women, girls and boys. The Club has the whole range of teams that not many clubs can boast. The Mini and Junior (M&J) section has recently produced some amazing talent with 4 Premiership rugby players (more than any other club in England) and 6 England players in the last 5 years.

ACROBAT | FCSM has been appointed also to SunSport Velo Women’s Race Team (WRT) in cycling.  Following on from phenomenal success last season, SunSport Velo WRT is planning this Season with an elite squad up to 12 riders. It needs sponsors whose input will enable the Club and its members to build upon the successful, inaugural season. We are retained as a Consultancy to lead this role. Last year’s accolades included beating Dame Sarah Storey’s Podium Ambition team in the Matrix Fitness GP Series, with the associated TV coverage on ITV4. This was incredible and a platform for further media coverage. The Team have also had successes throughout the season, with superb results such as in the Halifax Pedalsport Crit (1st and 2nd), Lincoln GP and a podium place at the prestigious Ryedale GP.

This prowess in sports marketing culminates with our authoring a publication, to be available in 2017, titled: “Being a Good Sport: How to Plan, Activate, Measure and Evaluate Sports Sponsorship Programs”.

Just thought you might like a little update even if outside the football – and “County” World!