Sports Ticker 12 – F1 restart, virtual NFL Draft and RFL emergency loan

Published on 07 May 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of the RPC Sports Ticker - providing fortnightly bite-size updates from around the sports industry.

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In this fortnight's edition, we consider how sporting bodies are planning to restart leagues and competitions as various governments begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions. We also look at the success of the inaugural virtual NFL Draft, an £16m emergency loan issued by the government to the Rugby Football League (RFL), and offer tips to those attending virtual sports arbitrations. 

As always, if there are any areas you'd like more information on (or if you have any questions or feedback), please let us know or get in touch with your usual RPC contact.

To cancel or not to cancel, that is the question

Plans for resuming football around Europe are changing day-by-day - whilst the German Bundesliga has received government approval to restart their season, there remain doubts as to if (and when) the Italian Serie A and English Premier League will restart.

F1 - Ready. Set. Go (in July?)

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has announced that he plans to restart racing in Europe “through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria on 3-5 July”.

Touchdown for virtual NFL Draft

This year's NFL Draft was originally set to be a star-studded event in Las Vegas – with those picked being transported (by boat!) to a stage positioned in the middle of the Bellagio hotel fountains.

Government award £16m emergency loan to RFL

The Government has confirmed it will provide £16m of loans to the RFL after stating that it had to intervene “to protect an entire sport”.

Games Chief unsure 2021 Olympics will go ahead

As previously mentioned in Edition 10 of the Sports Ticker, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 was postponed to 2021.



Extra time...

And finally...due to COVID-19, those who originally planned to attend court hearings and arbitrations have instead had to make use of video conferencing services such as Zoom, Skype and BlueJeans. Over the last fortnight, an RPC sports team consisting of Jeremy Drew, Josh Charalambous and Samuel Coppard instructed Richard Liddell QC (4 New Square) to represent a sports national governing body in a confidential sports safeguarding arbitration under the National Safeguarding Panel rules. 

To add to the challenge of a virtual hearing, the speedy nature of the timetable meant that disclosure, witness statements and the hearing were all completed during lockdown. In preparation, the parties agreed 'ground rules' at the outset of the hearing (e.g. a protocol in the event of technological issues – which inevitably arose), ensured that bundles were easily bookmarked and made use of a separate internal 'chat' system to provide instructions away from the hearing platform.  The challenges associated with virtual hearings extends to those giving witness evidence and there are some key learning points that we will share in a fuller blog post.

If anyone wishes to discuss the logistics of conducting a virtual sports arbitration, please do let us know.

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