A step in the right direction: The new alcohol sponsorship code for sporting events

Published 14 February 2014 By: Adam Lovatt


In this blog, Adam Lovatt considers the new alcohol sponsorship code for sporting events, introduced by the Portman Group on 31 January 2014 (the “Code”), and reflects on how it might be received in the United Kingdom.

In August 2013, I wrote a blog discussing the future prospects for alcohol sponsorship of sporting events in the United Kingdom and how this country may, in time, align itself more with France and Ireland in having stricter guidelines in respect of alcohol companies sponsoring sporting events. In France, the Loi Evin bans all advertising of alcohol at French based events, and in Ireland, the Department of Health has recently recommended that a ban on alcohol sponsorship of big sporting events should be in force by 2020.

The Code, which was issued by the Portman Group at the end of January and consists of a set of rules which signatories should adhere to, is the first alcohol sponsorship code governing sports, music and cultural events in the United Kingdom, and it seeks to promote responsible drinking.1 The number of bodies and organisations that have publicly expressed support for the Code is encouraging, ranging from alcoholic drinks companies to the Sport and Recreation Alliance. The Football Association and the England & Wales Cricket Board have also been included in discussions regarding the Code, and the likes of the Lawn Tennis Association and the Rugby Football Union will apply the Code when negotiating sponsorship deals with alcohol companies.

The Code states at Clause 1.1 that it 'seeks to ensure that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible manner and only to those over 18', and will apply to all agreements agreed after 31 January 2014. All companies within the alcoholic drinks industry in the United Kingdom are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Code, as per Clause 1.10.


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Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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