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High-profile Debate Calls for Sport to Be Subject to the Same Rules as Business

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Richard Caborn, ex Sports Minister and Sheffield MP, has called for sport to operate under the same regulations as business at a high-profile debate chaired by Sir David Richards – a former Chairman of the Premier League and an FA board member.

Heavyweight line up: l to r Richard Caborn, Barry Warne of hlw Keeble Hawson, Sir David Richards, Giles Searby of hlw Keeble Hawson and Emanuel MedeirosEntitled Is Sport Becoming Too Contentious?, the heated discussion devised and presented  by hlw Keeble Hawson – whose Sports department is once again recommended in the latest Legal 500 Guide – took place at The Workstation in Sheffield and was attended by more than 50 representatives from sport and business.

The influence of organised crime syndicates, institutional doping and alleged FIFA corruption were among the thorny topics covered by the session which has been sparked by sporting controversy spanning the Olympics doping allegations, football club owners coming under scrutiny; and, most recently, Sam Allardyce’s dramatic departure as England manager.

Emanuel Medeiros, CEO of the International Centre for Sport Security, Europe, reinforced the increasingly contentious nature of sport – citing football as an example of a game where controversy, greed and litigation have escalated as a result of vast sums of money being poured into it, largely from the sale of broadcasting rights.

On the issue of governance in sport – and for sport to operate under the same regulations as business, Richard Caborn aired his major concern that politicians have historically allowed sport to operate under its own set of rules – and that the challenge going forward is for it to be run as an independently governed and funded system.

He said: “In order to have confidence in and respect for sport’s autonomy, we need a regulatory system that is run and delivered by all sport and supported by its constituent stakeholder parties. But it needs to be free from cronyism and anachronistic structures, to adapt to the ever emerging complexities of sport, and to be wholly independent, both financially and politically.”

The discussion elicited dozens of questions from attendees which ignited heated discussion and contrasting views from Sir David Richards and Richard Caborn on topics including whether the FA is fit for purpose and the perceived value of introducing a state regulator for football.

Barry Warne, head of employment at hlw Keeble Hawson, who co-hosted the event with Giles Searby, who leads the firm’s Sports department, said: “Sheffield is a national city of sport boasting world-class facilities and, as the only Sheffield law firm ranked by the 2016 Legal 500 guide for its expertise in the field, we wanted to facilitate a healthy debate on the balance between regulation, competition and integrity.

The passion and depth of feeling from the panel and the floor left us in no doubt that integrity, combined with a deep-rooted ethos of clean and fair competition, are still very much valued.”  

The Sports department of hlw Keeble Hawson – one of Yorkshire’s largest law firms with offices in Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster - acts for specialist sports companies, individuals and teams including Chesterfield FC and Doncaster Knights RUFC.

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