Covington’s dedication to the business of sports runs broad and deep. For over 50 years, we have represented major sports organizations, among them Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, NASCAR, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, the UFC, the USGA, the USOC, the USTA, and the American Athletic Conference (the former BIG EAST Conference). We have also represented numerous individual teams and their owners, as well as prospective owners looking to enter the industry through team acquisitions. Sports industry participants regularly seek our advice for complex, industry-shaping legal questions covering such diverse matters as antitrust counseling, collective bargaining, copyright enforcement, financings, governance, litigation, media rights development, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory affairs, sponsorships, and state, federal, and international tax.
Covington represents a vast range of sports clients, including:
- All of the major US professional sports leagues;
- Domestic and international amateur athletic associations, including college conferences and individual universities;
- Individual teams and stadium/arena entities;
- Team and league owners, lenders, and investors;
- Individuals and groups interested in acquiring sports franchises;
- Television and new media companies, including League- and team-owned single sport networks;
- League, team, and facility naming-rights sponsors; and
- Municipalities and stadium/arena authorities.
So whether a matter involves an antitrust challenge to a management lockout of player-employees, the financing of a baseball stadium, the acquisition of a sports franchise, the launch of a regional sports network, protection against unauthorized online and other distributions of content, or the creation of tax-efficient structures for sports leagues to pursue media or international business opportunities, Covington has the in-depth and “on-court” experience on which sophisticated sports clients rely.
Covington’s lawyers - just like our clients - offer some of the best credentials in the sports business. Covington understands the evolving business of sports and the diverse legal needs of a unique industry that operates across several different legal disciplines. Covington alumni have served as Commissioner of the NFL, as General Counsels of the NBA, NFL, and NHL, and in other prominent roles in the industry. Following his 17 year service with distinction as Commissioner of the NFL, Paul Tagliabue has returned to Covington as senior counsel and plays an active role in the firm’s sports practice.
Covington is long known for its domestic sports work, but our sports practice extends well beyond US borders. We handle international sports finance and acquisition transactions (English Premier League representations include matters for West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool), as well as international media and sponsorship transactions (recent assignments include media distribution of NFL and NHL games in Europe, new media platform distribution for Formula One racing, and naming-rights transactions for European stadium facilities).
Operating as a single practice group across the firm’s London, New York, Washington, and San Francisco offices, Covington sports lawyers recognize how lucky we are to practice in such an innovative, entertaining, and — at times — hard-hitting industry. We bring that enthusiasm to our work, and we invite you to learn more about specific aspects of our sports practice by clicking on any of the links.
Covington’s sports team consists of more than a dozen partners and over twenty associates who dedicate a major portion of their time to sports-related legal issues. Many more of our lawyers provide specialized regulatory, legislative, litigation, and media-related support to our efforts. To learn more about our sports team’s capabilities and the resources available to you within the firm, we invite you to contact Gregg Levy (litigation), Bruce Wilson (corporate), or Jeremy Spector (tax).