Onside Law scores FA coup with National Express/Wembley deal

Sports boutique Onside Law has picked up a brace of football sponsorship deals as the FA Cup Final clash between Chelsea and Manchester United draws closer.

Onside Law advised coach company National Express in its agreement with the Football Association (FA) to be the official transport supplier to the new Wembley Stadium.

The agreement will run until 2010 and will see National Express adding 13 new coach routes to the stadium from 43 towns in the UK. Bird & Bird acted for Wembley Stadium on the deal.

The firm also acted for National Express on its deal with the FA to become the official travel partner of the England national team and FA Cup. This agreement will also run until 2010.

The FA looked to its in-house team to complete the deal rather than using its relationship firms DLA Piper and Bird & Bird. The deals were done to a tight deadline to be ready in time for the FA Cup semi-finals in mid-April.

Tony McDonald, group legal adviser at National Express Group, said: “For our first major foray into sponsorship we found Onside Law’s industry knowledge invaluable.” Onside Law was set up in 2005 by three lawyers from IMG, the sports management company. The founding partners are Jamie Singer, Oliver Hunt and Simon Thorp.

The firm’s first big case came in the IP and competition dispute between Adidas and the International Tennis Federation last year.

Onside Law picked up a choice mandate from Fédération Française de Tennis, the organiser of the Roland Garros tournament, in the High Court battle. Other high-profile clients of the firm include Nick Faldo, Tim Henman and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Bird & Bird has steadily grown its UK sports team, bringing in rated Hammonds’ sports head Jonathan Taylor and his team at the beginning of the year.