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Sport and commercial law – the year in review 2020/21

Image of a cyborg basketball player slam dunking on a futuristic court
Thursday, 17 June 2021 By Jon Walters

In a year where our transformed working patterns have been made possible by modern technology, it seems apt for the theme of this year’s commercial chapter to be the impact of technology on the sports sector.

This impact has manifested itself in a variety of ways – the continuing growth of data analytics in the sector (witness recent reports on Kevin de Bruyne’s use of data analysts in his latest contract negotiations[1] and the unicorn status of connected fitness and performance monitoring products for amateur athletes such as Strava[2] and Whoop[3]); the rush to adoption of technology by sports seeking to enhance fan engagement; the prevalence of digital businesses as the sponsors of sport; and the vibrancy of the investment market in ‘sports tech’ businesses, often fuelled by demand from athlete investors and the rise of the special purposes acquisition company (SPAC). That is without even mentioning the emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)!    

This article will consider the potential legal implications of the following trends in the convergence of sports and technology:

  • Tech giants embracing fitness
  • Impact of technology on mainstream sport
  • Legal considerations arising from new entrants to sponsorship market
  • Adoption of technology by sports
  • Sports data and SPACs

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Jon Walters

Jon Walters

Partner, Northridge

Jon provides commercial and corporate advice to clients. He is recognised by the directories as a “real go-to adviser” and a “commercial and regulatory expert”, with particular expertise on governance, corporate advice and commercial rights.

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