A LEGAL firm which has represented top flight footballers on everything from contracts to driving offences has launched the area’s first sports law department.

Ellis Jones Solicitors hopes to score with amateur, semi-professional and professional sports people as well as teams, clubs and governing bodies.

It says it has advised Premier League and Championship soccer stars on a range of sporting issues, including contracts, image rights and motoring offences.

Its new sports law department covers issues such as disciplinary disputes, property purchases, wills and tax issues, image rights, criminal defence work and matrimonial matters.

Contracts, intermediary and agent regulations, brand protection, intellectual property, sponsorship, event management, discrimination, anti-doping, employment and equine law are also included.

The new department covers all sports, from football and rugby to disability sports, horse racing and cricket.

Partner David McWilliam, who is head of personal injury and the new sports law department, said: “Sports law is not a game.

“As well as contracts and disciplinary disputes, there may be a whole range of issues about which sports people, clubs, governing bodies and organisations need advice.

“We have a strong track record in legal matters associated with sport so it made complete sense to launch the area’s first bespoke service.

“We have dealt with Premiership and Championship footballers advising them on a number of issues including contracts, image rights and motoring offences.

“More widely, we have advised on trademark advice for a professional women’s cricket team, branding for a number of sport magazines, prepared employment contracts for soccer schools and golf clubs, and assisted a number of sporting charities.

“Our aim is to provide the very best legal services in all types of sports from elite to amateur across many different areas of law.”

Mr McWilliam, who is chairman of Christchurch Seagulls Swimming Club, has more than 20 years’ of experience in personal and sports injury law.

He recently completed a postgraduate certificate in sports law at De Montfort University, Leicester.

He sits as an independent disciplinary panel member for the Dorset Football Association and is a games programme monitor for the English Football League (EFL). He is also a member of the British Association for Sport and Law.

Bournemouth-headquartered Ellis Jones has offices in Canford Cliffs, Christchurch, Ringwood, Swanage, Wimborne and London.