JMW Expands Sports Team

Full service law firm JMW Solicitors LLP has further expanded its sports law offering with the appointment of a new Partner and multiple fee earners.

Stephen Heath joins JMW as a Partner having worked extensively across multiple sports industries, including as In-House Counsel at Leeds United Football Club. Stephen counts amongst his clients: Leeds United Football Club, well-known boxing promoter Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions, Swansea City Football Club, BT Sport and Black Castle Motorsport Management. Recently, Stephen has acted for BT Sport in obtaining a blocking order against pirate streams of Pay-per-View events and also acted for Tyson Fury and Queensbury Promotions in the commercial deal for Tyson Fury’s World Title fight against Deontay Wilder in December 2018. Stephen advises clients in a variety of matters including: media rights agreements, image rights, sporting tribunal and disciplinary proceedings, sponsorship agreements and agent and player disputes to name a few.

Most recently Stephen has been instructed by Oscar Rivas and his promoter Yvon Michel to look after their interests and seek redress following the revelation Dillian Whyte failed a doping test for a performance enhancing drug prior to their World Title Bout but was allowed to box. Rivas and his promoter had been kept in the dark until matters came to light after the bout.  

Commenting on Stephen, Frank Warren Hall of Fame Boxing Promoter said:

“Stephen has been my personal and company lawyer for almost 25 years both in-house and privately. I value his integrity and robust advice on a range of matters as well as his thorough “Can do” approach on a wide range of commercial matters in a fast moving competitive industry”   

Michael Embra, has also very recently joined JMW as Solicitor and FA Registered Intermediary in the Sports team. He has worked on various high profile commercial deals and transfers within professional football and routinely advises both clubs and players upon a variety of matters across all levels.

JMW’s Sports Law team is led by Head of Commercial Litigation Marc Yaffe and has grown substantially over the twelve months. The team has advised more than 100 high profile sports stars and clubs across a variety of legal matters including Corporate, Commercial, Regulatory, Litigation, Conveyancing, Wills, Matrimonial and Media & Reputation Management. In football alone, the team works with the player care teams at 6 Premier League Clubs and multiple Championship clubs.  Head of Sport Services Ben Peppi (who runs Barn Door, the award winning platform which helps athletes transition from sport to business and prepare for life beyond sport), Partners Ian Lewis, Andrew Garvie, Mike Blood, Michael Chapman, Nick McAleenan, Derek Millard-Smith, Claire Brown and Richard Parkinson have all welcomed Stephen Heath to support them as they advise professional sports stars, regulatory bodies and sports clubs on their playing contracts, transfer negotiations, significant commercial deals, image rights, club takeovers & acquisitions and all manner of regulatory issues.

JMW’s sports team is also supported by 2 ex-professional athletes. Richard Yates, Associate in JMW’s Commercial Litigation team, competed for England and Great Britain in athletics and is a former British Champion and British number one 400 metre hurdler. He finished 5th in Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and won a bronze medal in the 4x400 metres relay. Amy Askew recently joined JMW as a Paralegal in the Commercial Litigation team. Before turning to the legal profession, Amy was a former UK number one tennis player, has won the Great British Nationals and has represented Team GB.

Stephen Heath said about his new appointment at JMW:

“I am delighted to have joined JMW. As a full service law firm with national coverage, they can offer my clients in the sports sector full legal support across all areas, from commercial agreements and reputation management through to all the personal services like family law as well which is very important. There is a wealth of experience across all disciplines at JMW to offer our sports stars and clubs a full-service offering”

Commenting on the growth of the Sports Law team Marc Yaffe, Partner and Head of Sports Law at JMW said:

 “We are excited to welcome Stephen and Michael to JMW as they both strengthen our offering to our expanding sporting client base with a wealth of experience both working in-house for sporting organisations and in private practise. The sports team has grown significantly over the past year and we now boast specialist experience across all legal disciplines so we can cater for both sporting organisations and the personal needs of all professional athletes. Our Barn Door platform is still growing and now has a network of over 200 professional athletes across 27 different sports who we help to connect to emerging new business and active commercial opportunities. We are committed to our sporting clients not just during their sporting careers, but as importantly, to help them transition and prepare for life beyond sport. ”

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