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UNDERSTAND THE RULES OF THE GAME

Common ownership of sports teams: Gloucester RFC case confirms the principles from "ENIC" decision

Published 19 May 2017 | Authored by: Phil Bonner

In April 2017, it was reported that Premiership Rugby had voted against[1] a proposed investment in Gloucester RFC by the France-based billionaire Mohed Altrad[2]

Under the terms of the proposed investment, Mr Altrad would have purchased a 45% stake in the Cherry and Whites, who compete in the Aviva Premiership and progressed to the final of the 2016/17 edition of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, European Rugby Union’s second tier competition. 

However, the board of Premiership Rugby was reported[3] to have voted to restrict that investment to just 20%, despite Mr Altrad having already scaled down his original plan to purchase a 55% stake in Gloucester RFC to 45%[4].

This article examines the issue of common ownership of clubs in rugby and European football. Specifically, it looks at:

  • Why Premiership Rugby was only prepared to allow a 20% investment by Mr Altrad in Gloucester RFC; 

  • How common ownership of football clubs is dealt with by UEFA (a look at the principles from the “ENIC” case);

  • How common ownership of football clubs is dealt with in England (a look at the Owners and Directors Test); and

  • The English Football League’s 2013 decision to place limits on loan transfers (the Watford FC example).

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About the Author

Phil Bonner

Phil Bonner

Phil Bonner is an associate in Squire Patton Boggs’ Litigation department and is part of the Sports Law team based in its London office.

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