Who is the 'Lionel Messi of sports law' defending Sheffield Wednesday in their court battle against the EFL?

All the evidence suggests Sheffield Wednesday have hired one of the best sports lawyers in the business as their boardroom battle with the EFL continues.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 4:50 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 5:44 pm

Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri last week learned that the charges made against him personally had been dropped by the league as the case continues in its arbitration stage. Finance director John Redgate and former chief executive Katrien Meire also had their cases dropped.

Although the case against the club goes on, it represented a significant win for the club, who stated: “In the Club’s view this decision is a recognition of the strength of the evidence that the Club has filed before league arbitration panels, which demonstrated that there was no proper basis for the charges.”

The mastermind behind the win is sports law QC Nick De Marco, who football finance guru Keiran Maguire described to BBC Sheffield as ‘sports law’s version of Lionel Messi’, reiterating the fact that last week’s findings are right to have given Wednesday fans hope in their ultimate battle with the EFL.

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De Marco, who represents London-based Blackstone Chambers, is also a director of the British Association for Sport and the Law and was ranked as one of the top 3 Most Highly Regarded Sports Law Silks in the UK by Who’s Who Legal 2019.

He has represented clubs, players and figures from around the world across a range of sports, from Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson to Massimo Cellino and from the England and Wales Cricket Board to Swansea City.

He is a keen sports fan and briefly acted as a director of Queens Park Rangers in 2007. He later represented QPR in their arbitration claim against the EFL in charges that stretched across several years and was settled in 2018.

His company profile says he has: “A unique insight into the football industry including issues relating to football finance, commercial rights, sponsorship, employment law issues with players and managerial staff and regulation by the football governing bodies.”

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri has had his EFL charge of misconduct dropped. The case against the club goes on.

Alongside the Wednesday case, De Marco is representing Derby County in their own FFP wrangling with the EFL.

Interestingly, he is also representing former Rams skipper Richard Keogh in his case against the club for wrongful dismissal.