I predominantly specialise in commercial litigation and arbitration with a particular focus on the sports sector.
I am deputy co-head of Lewis Silkin’s sports group and whilst my primary focus is on sport-related dispute resolution, I also advise clubs, leading agencies and international athletes on a broad range of legal issues.
My recent experience includes:
- Advising Premier League football clubs, players and agents in relation to numerous domestic and international football transfers. This includes high-profile transfers such as Raphael Varane’s transfer from Real Madrid to Manchester United and Richarlison’s transfer from Everton FC to Tottenham Hotspur;
- Being regularly instructed in relation to high-profile football manager and coaching staff appointments. This includes advising Ange Postecoglou in connection with his appointment at Tottenham Hotspur, Frank Lampard in connection with his appointment at Everton FC and Steve Cooper in relation to his appointment at Nottingham Forest FC;
- Acting for numerous clients in connection with disputes in the civil courts as well as sport specific arbitration tribunals such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This includes successfully representing Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in connection with a dispute with Malaga FC over a sell on clause and a client in a multi-million contractual dispute with an elite European football club; and
- Advising clubs, players, managers and agents in relation to regulatory compliance and disciplinary investigations for alleged regulatory breaches and on-field misconduct. This includes successfully representing Middlesbrough footballer Marc Bola in relation to an FA misconduct charge for an historical social media post, two agents in disciplinary proceedings brought by the FA for alleged breaches of the FA’s Intermediary Regulations and regularly representing rugby players in disciplinary cases before RFU and European panels.
I am ranked as a star associate in Sport by Chambers and Partners and by Legal 500 as a rising star in Sport. I have been described as “the driving force of the football practice, having great knowledge of contractual and regulatory matters, remarkable business acumen about the football industry and an extensive network with clubs, agents and peer lawyers”.
I am also a member of Sport Resolutions’ panel of arbitrators for the period 2021-2024 and was recently selected by FIFA to act as pro bono counsel in FIFA proceedings. I am also a Spanish speaker.
Awards and Recognition
- Legal 500 2024 (Sport) - ‘John Shea is clever, easy going and very diligent. His advice is always practical and useful.’
- Legal 500 2023 - Rising Stars ranking
- Legal 500 2023 - 'John Shea been a great external adviser who has become an extension of our in house team'
- Legal 500 2023 - 'John Shea is very strong in football and rugby disputes, especially those with a commercial or regulatory angle'
- Legal 500 2023 - 'John Shea is the driving force of the football practice, having great knowledge of contractual and regulatory matters, remarkable business acumen about the football industry and an extensive network with clubs, agents and peer lawyers'
- Chambers 2023 - Star Associate ranking
- Chambers 2022 (Sport) - 'He has very good knowledge of football regulations'
- Legal 500 2022 (Sport) - ‘John Shea is a terrific senior associate who is going places fast. Especially strong on international sporting disputes’