Lithuanian Competition Council investigates alleged collusion over basketball players’ pay
The Covid-19 crisis has forced sport clubs around the world to consider unprecedented measures in order to try to protect their bottom line. However, despite uncertain futures and considerable financial pressure, there is no guarantee of a free pass from competition rules. On the contrary, regulators remain vigilant and continue to investigate alleged infringements. Both on and off the court, the message is that sports organisations and clubs still need to play by the rules.
In this context, this article considers the ongoing investigation by the Lithuanian Competition Council (LCC), announced on 24 April, into the alleged anticompetitive exchange of information and agreement between the national basketball league and the clubs regarding the terms of payment of basketball players’ salaries. Specifically, it examines:
- The law on anti-competitive agreements, in particular to fix salaries
- The continuing importance of competition law during Covid-19
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- Tags: Basketball | Competition Law | Lithuania | Lithuanian Basketball League | Lithuanian Competition Council | Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
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Sînziana is a Managing Associate in Linklaters’ Competition practice. She has advised on the Single Resolution Mechanism and has extensive litigation experience before the Courts of the European Union. Sînziana is one of the global co-heads of the Linklaters’ sports sector.
Jason is an English law-qualified dispute resolution lawyer and Managing Associate at Linklaters. He has a broad practice in litigation matters, including advising domestic and international clients on complex and high value commercial and competition litigation issues. His experience in sports includes advising a number of different sporting stakeholders on wide-ranging issues, including matters of competition law, as well as the application and interpretation of broadcasting contracts in the context of COVID-19.
Karolis is a Brussels-based competition lawyer specialising in all areas of competition law, including anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance and merger control.
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.
This was very educative. Thank you.
You don't want to pay you players and you don't want other employers to pay theirs too. Ordinarily, it is an Express breach of employment contract for an employer to fail to pay their employees. However, due to the circumstances (Covid-19 issues), it may appear justifiable for the clubs to call a meeting and strike an agreement with their employees (as to a possible reduction/cut in their remuneration). It is totally wrong to have a meeting with competitors (other clubs) to reduce players' salaries.