Olswang chosen to rescue embattled dotcom Sportal

Troubled dotcom Sportal is using Olswang to negotiate the funds it needs to survive.`The firm has taken Sportal through every stage of the business, from its incorporation in 1998 to its recent second round of funding.`Sportal’s head of legal Jonathan West said: “We’re delighted with Olswang’s loyalty to us, the firm has proved itself a loyal and capable adviser and we know we can rely on it in these difficult times.”`Because of changing circumstances, West has swapped partners at Olswang. E-commerce partner Kim Nicholson was the original legal adviser at the firm. She drew up the employee stock options in 1998 in preparation for the initial public offering (IPO) that was planned for three to five years after incorporation.`West said: “The stock options are of course underwater now, and will remain so until we find out if we’re going to survive.”`Olswang insolvency partner Graham Levy is now advising Sportal on what West called “the specialised legal issues involved with obtaining funding in our situation”.`Sportal provides live sports coverage over the internet and offers sports news, chat rooms, and other services for sports fans. In its heyday it was the official website for Euro 2000. But its fortunes have changed, and Sportal is attempting to attract further investment from existing shareholders 3i, europe@web, Andell and GRP, as well as potential new investors. Levy and his team also advised Sportal’s chief executive officer Rob Hersov and chief finance officer Manilo Marocco on their decision to fund the company themselves while they seek investment.`West maintained that Sportal has a good chance of survival. “We’re a real business with a good deal of value. We’re having trouble with investors because of the US downturn and because everyone is waiting for the technology sector to bottom out before they put any more money into it.”`If Sportal does survive, the management has not ruled out an IPO, which was originally planned for sometime before 2003. West is confident the contract could go to Olswang.