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Hammond Suddards Edge partners have escaped being sued in the Football League's litigation of ITV Digital
The league is suing ITV Digital and parent companies Carlton and Granada for around £500m because ITV Digital, which is in administration, has not delivered on a rights deal worth £315m. Hammonds partners Richard Alderson and Peter Millichip, son of former Football Association chairman Sir Bert Millichip, were the league's principal advisers on its contract with ITV Digital. Hammonds is thought to be in the frame because Carlton and Granada were not forced to sign a crucial contract. Carlton and Granada argue that they are not liable as guarantors because they did not sign a long form contract, which delivered the rights deal. The short form contract was signed by both parties. The long form contract gave guarantees that Granada and Carlton would pay up in the case of insolvency. It is also thought to have covered issues other than the football rights, such as spinoff products and what football presenters were supposed to say about the league matches. The Lawyer understands that league games were aired on ITV Digital before the long form contract was signed and that by the time games were shown, only the short form contract was signed. Leading sports lawyers and league club chairmen are questioning why Edge Ellison (now part of Hammond Suddards Edge) did not force Carlton and Granada to sign the long form contract. Daniel Izza, sports and insolvency partner at Pannone & Partners, said:"In view of the situation, it's essential that lawyers acting for the league look at every possible option, including the legal advice received at the time." But Lawrence Graham, the firm acting for the league, has decided that it will use the Edge Ellison partners, including Millichip, as witnesses rather than defendants. "If you've agreed a contract, it's logical to assume that there were lawyers involved," said Lawrence Graham partner John Verrill. "The agreements will have been recorded by lawyers. That's why they are still likely to be witnesses. "I haven't been instructed to make a claim against Hammonds arising out of the arrangements between ITV Digital and the Football League."