M&A in Sports: has COVID-19 moved the goalposts?
Back in Q1 2020, the Linklaters Sports law team looked ahead with optimism at the potential for growth and investment opportunities within the sports sector for the rest of the year. Since then, COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption across the global economy and the sports sector is no exception. Fixture standstills and the financial uncertainty from disputes over broadcasting rights, player contract renewals and pay deferrals have taken their toll across various sports and jurisdictions.
The general downward trend in global M&A activity has also impacted the sports sector. It is reported that CVC's interest in acquiring a £300m minority stake in the Six Nations, one of rugby's flagship international tournaments has been put on hold for a general re-evaluation amidst the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19 and that specific COVID-19 protections are being sought by CVC before that deal can reach the try line.
However, not all deals are being kicked into touch; the sector is showing signs of life and opportunities for purchasers which may not have otherwise made it to the starting line. This article examines some of the most exciting deal activity across the sports industry and shines a light on the novel legal challenges faced when contemplating transactions in the age of COVID-19. Specifically it looks at:
- Football – investment in Italian football
- Tennis - potential merger of the ATP and WTA
- Esports - the interest from private equity
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- Tags: Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) | Commercial | Coronavirus | Corporate | Covid-19 | English Premier League | Esports | Football | Governance | M&A | Owners and Directors Test | Tennis | Womens Tennis Associate (WTA)
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Managing Associate, Linklaters
Anand Patel is a competition/antitrust and disputes lawyer at Linklaters and editor of the firm’s sports law blog, SportingLinks. He focuses on all aspects of EU and UK competition law, with experience in London, Brussels and New York. His practice covers a range of sectors, including sports, pharmaceuticals, energy and TMT.
Tash is an associate in Linklaters' Corporate and Private Equity team in London. Tash has experience advising a variety of financial sponsor and corporate clients on private M&A, disposals, management incentive plans and portfolio company issues. Tash is combining her passion for sport and law through involvement with the Linklaters Sports Sector.
Matthew is an associate in Linklaters' Corporate team in London, specialising in private M&A and private equity transactions. Matthew has previously worked in Singapore and Frankfurt on M&A and corporate finance transactions. Matthew takes a keen interest in developments in the sports industry and is currently studying an executive masters in International Sports Law at ISDE university in Madrid.
Thomas is a corporate lawyer at Linklaters and has specialised experience in cross-border public and private M&A, joint ventures, demergers, equity capital markets, corporate reorganisations and corporate governance advice. Thomas began his career at Allens, a major Australian law firm, specialising in both buy and sell side M&A transactions, insolvent reorganisations and related financings.