Red Sky delight for Freshfields

Caroline Goodall of Herbert Smith led a team advising longstanding client BSkyB.

Amid frenzied press speculation over the future of Britain's biggest football club, Manchester United, Tim Emmerson (pictured right) is leading a Freshfields team advising the club's board on BSkyB's £623m takeover bid.

The Manchester United board appointed Emmerson on the recommendation of its financial advisers, investment bank HSBC. The club's usual legal advisers are Manchester firm, James Chapman & Co, where club director Maurice Watkins is a partner. But the board felt it needed heavyweight experience of public company takeovers for a deal of this size.

Emmerson said James Chapman & Co still bore the brunt of the “pretty intense” media pressure when the story broke.

Emmerson is now bracing himself for a possible rival bid. Roger Taylor, the drummer from rock band, Queen, is reported be trying to set up a consortium to buy the club.

This is not the first time Emmerson has been involved in corporate finance work for football clubs, having advised sponsor NatWest Markets on the flotation of Newcastle United in April last year.

However, he emphasised that his strength lay in mainstream corporate finance. “I wouldn't say I was a sports law guru,” he said.

He added diplomatically that he was a Manchester United fan.