How did you settle into your role?
As the in-house lawyer supports the different functions within the business, I spent my first few weeks meeting individuals from different teams to get a sense of who I would be working with on a daily basis, what their work entailed and what they were likely to need from me. It helped me get to know them and gave me an insight into the main drivers of the business and how it operates.
I was relatively unfamiliar with the world of football, so invested some time in learning about the different competitions in which the Club participates, familiarising myself with their various rules and guidelines, and researching some of the key legal issues which the Club frequently tackles.
What makes legal work in football unusual?
The range of work that lands on my desk is incredibly diverse; from commercial contracts common to most enterprises, to marketing, media, digital and sponsorship arrangements, image rights and player transfers.
Working within the football industry also has its own particular issues and it offers the opportunity to gain specialised industry knowledge in a niche area. As well as being incredibly high-profile, it has the added dimension of having at its heart the ups and downs of the team, and the drive to see it succeed.
What are the most challenging legal aspects of your role?
The growth and expansion of the Club over the past few years means that I am involved in an increasing number of exciting, wide-ranging and fast-moving projects alongside the daily legal queries covering all aspects of the business. I’ve found that it is important to balance and prioritise those different work streams, manage expectations, make decisions under pressure and ensure work is completed by agreed deadlines.
On a more technical level, as with any industry, I’ve needed to develop an in-depth knowledge of the different rules and regulations that affect the operations of the business. For our Club, this includes the rules of each competition and the various accompanying commercial and media guidelines that apply to them.
Equally important as knowing the legal requirements, though, is combining them with sound commercial advice; it is imperative you understand the commercial drivers involved and the consequences of your advice on the Club and are able to communicate these in clear, practical terms to different stakeholders. In a dynamic football club such as ours, all these aspects are frequently changing, so flexibility and adaptability is key.
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