A legal pandemic for sport? Discussing the challenges for the industry on Radio 4.


On Wednesday this week I was interviewed by Rob Bonnet on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme about the legal implications of Coronavirus for commercial issues in sport.

Given the universal effects of the virus on all sports, in all regions of the world, this is a huge topic. But in many ways it reflects the issues facing all businesses: How should you respond to the virus to balance your liability against safety? What legal issues arise from the impact of Coronavirus? How might businesses deal with these? What about insurance policies? 

In a short interview we could only touch on a few of these issues, but we managed to cover sports generally, and football and Formula 1 specifically.

Professional sport is a highly international businesses, with most organisations dealing with players, teams or suppliers from around the world. Understanding how disputes in this context can be resolved is crucial to being well prepared to negotiate with your partners.

No matter how your business is affected by these issues, you will undoubtedly want to take early advice so that you can engage with your partners in a knowledgeable way, and mitigate the effects of this unprecedented situation for your business and livelihood.

Key to the disputes will be issues around force majeure, a principal often incorporated into contracts which releases a party when circumstances beyond their control make it impossible to complete the contract. In unprecedented circumstances like these, careful consideration and advice will be needed, taking into account the terms of contracts and insurance cover. 

However, your first concern will of course be to take care for the safety of your team, players, supporters and others, and you will want to reassure them clearly of that. 

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death," said Bill Shankly, "I assure you, it's much more serious than that". Somehow, his lighthearted remark has never seemed more poignant.

You can listen to the interview here: (at 2:27:30)

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