BLP and Fladgate score on Gareth Bale’s record-breaking transfer deal

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) partner Graham Shear and a team of Fladgate partners have advised footballer Gareth Bale on his record breaking transfer to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur, finalised last night.

The transfer window does not close until 11pm tonight, but BLP has confirmed it is one of a range of firms acting for Bale on the deal, led by media and sports litigation partner Shear while Fladgate confirmed that a cross-firm team of lawyers has advised on the intellectual property, tax and image rights aspects of the deal.

Fladgate head of corporate Grant Gordon led on the transaction, alongside sports partner Alan Wetterhahn and tax partner, Huw Witty.

After weeks of speculation, Tottenham said this morning Real Madrid had paid £85.3m for the player, smashing through the £80m world record the team paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 and making him one of the highest paid footballers in the world.

Despite new UEFA ‘financial fair play’ rules aimed at capping the spending on players, Real Madrid is able to buy Bale by spreading the cost of his fee over his six-year contract.

Sports contracts are growing increasingly complex, with firms acting on several aspects of each deal. Fladgate partner Gordon said: “Transfer deals of this nature are becoming ever more complex, reflecting the need for advice on a myriad of elements, including corporate, tax, regulatory, IP, image and media rights, and employment.”

The firm boasts a wealth of high-profile sports clients including teams and drivers in Formula 1, Moto GP and cricket, golf and cycling.

Shear is also well-known for his experience in high-profile sports transactions, having advised football agent Kia Joorabchian on Carlos Tevez’s transfer to Manchester City at previous firm Teacher Stern in 2009. He has over 24 years experience as a commercial litigator – four of which were spent at Teacher Stern, with five as managing partner.

As well as advising on a range of premiership matters, Shear advised Ashley Cole in several defamation actions against newspapers and won his own £25,000 settlement from News Group Newspapers over phone hacking in 2012 (20 January 2012).

Shear moved to BLP in 2009 with fellow litigation partner Joby Davies from Teacher Stern (10 August 2009), saying he was keen to expand his client base.