Hill Dickinson has scored a success for its sports department after advising on the £6m transfer of Premiership footballer James Beattie from Southampton to Everton .
Sports partner Chris Farnell won the work for Beattie at the start of this year’s first ‘transfer window’ – one of the two periods in the year during which clubs can buy or sell players.
It is the first time Hill Dickinson has worked for Beattie, but the firm has a number of other leading English players on its client list, including Newcastle United’s Jermaine Jenas and Birmingham City’s Matthew Upson.
Farnell first became involved in the transfer on 27 December, after Southampton had received an offer from Everton. Under the rules of transferring footballers, agents or lawyers can only speak to a club interested in buying a player once the selling club has accepted the offer and given permission for negotiations to commence.
However, the deal became more complicated when Aston Villa put in a competing offer, which was also accepted by Southampton. Farnell explained that he then had to travel to Birmingham to meet Aston Villa and discuss terms with the club. Aston Villa had also put in an earlier offer for Beattie during the August 2004 transfer window.
Discussions continued across the new year, finally concluding on 4 January, when Everton signed Beattie for £6m – the most the club has ever paid for a player.
Farnell said he expected the deal to be the largest English transaction of this transfer window. “James was the biggest English player that was targeted,” he explained.
He added that Hill Dickinson’s sports practice is very busy at the moment, working on a variety of non-contentious contractual work as well as litigation, including conflicting sponsorship disputes.