Shield Logo
Edward Canty, Partner

Edward Canty


Edward is widely recognised as an expert in the field of sports law. He has extensive experience in advising clients in relation to all regulatory disputes and disciplinary matters, together with advising on governance and contractual issues. He has specific expertise in football, and provides advice on matters such as player contracts, transfers and related issues; he is also retained by a number of key clients including the Professional Footballers’ Association, individual players, national associations, leagues and clubs and has an unrivalled knowledge of the football industry.

Edward has considerable experience in dealing with media issues such as defamation, image protection and crisis management. He also advises sports clients in high profile criminal matters, and regularly represents clients in cases before the disciplinary bodies of The FA and UEFA, and cases before the Premier League, the Football League, the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and the FIFA Players’ Status Committee.

Edward is highly regarded within the industry, as reflected by his external sporting appointments. He is a director of PFA Enterprises Limited, the Professional Footballers’ Association company, and is a member of the Panel of Arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland (having also been appointed to the specialist football panel).

The Legal 500 highlights Edward as a key contact for football matters and describes him as a solicitor who is “charming and has great judgment.” The Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession notes that Edward has “a fantastic knowledge of all the major areas of sports law.”

Matthew Bennett, Partner

Matthew Bennett


Matthew works extensively across the sports sector. He has a particular recognition as a leading advisor to the football industry both in the UK and worldwide due to him regularly advising on complex and high value international player transfers. He advises a number of professional clubs including those from the Premier League, the Football League, the Scottish Professional Football League and Major League Soccer, as well as players and intermediaries, on a wide variety of regulatory and legal matters.

Matthew has represented clients before a variety of dispute resolution forums at a domestic and international level, including The FA, FIFA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Sport Resolutions and Golf’s European Tour. Matthew also lectures to students on the British Association for Sport and Law Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Law and is regularly invited to speak at Sports Law conferences. 

The Legal 500 describes Matthew as “knowledgeable, calm and effective“. In the Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession, Matthew is ranked in Band 1 for Sports Lawyers in the UK where he is described as “one of the best football lawyers, if not the best, in the country.”

David Bentham, Partner

David Bentham


David is a Partner in our team, and a lawyer who has an in-depth understanding of commercial, sport and media law. As a leading lawyer in the industry, his practice includes advising governing bodies, clubs, sports and media individuals, sponsors, players’ unions and other sports and media businesses on a wide range of issues, such as sponsorship and merchandising programmes, tour and event agreements, e-commerce and m-commerce, broadcasting and publishing arrangements.

David has a particular specialism for advising clients on image rights and personal endorsement deals, and has advised in connection with some of the biggest names in sport. His specialist expertise and commercial acumen for sponsorship and merchandising has also resulted in him being brought in by leading brands to act on some of their most valuable and complex deals. David also regularly lectures on sports law, including on the British Association for Sport and Law Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Law.

He is noted in the Chambers Guide as a professional whose “quality of work and knowledge is outstanding”, with the Legal 500 also describing David as “first-class and responsive,” offering “sound practical advice” and having “excellent industry knowledge and a superb commercial focus”.

Stuart Baird, Partner

Stuart Baird


Having trained as part of the pioneering James Chapman & Co Sports Team, Stuart has a vast experience of sports law, particularly in connection with football and rugby, and his impressive portfolio of work has been recognised by the legal directories for years. His practice focuses on regulatory, contractual, dispute and disciplinary matters and he has extensive experience in representing clients before a number of regulatory bodies. Stuart also assists a number of governing bodies with the drafting of rules and regulations and is widely regarded as the ‘go to’ sports lawyer for immigration issues.

The Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession highlights Stuart as being “clearly a star of the future” who “does an enormous amount of high-profile work” for football and rugby clients, while the Legal 500 describes his work as “outstanding.”

Sarah Athi, Senior Associate

Sarah Athi

Senior Associate

Sarah has specialist experience in sports law. Sarah trained at Brabners LLP and, as a former England junior international Hockey Captain, she has an outstanding sporting pedigree. She advises clients on a variety of issues, including disciplinary, regulatory, contentious and immigration matters. She has particular expertise advising individuals on defamation, crisis management and criminal matters.

Phil Bonner, Senior Associate

Phil Bonner

Senior Associate

Phil has a broad range of contentious experience, including advising clients in respect of litigation in the High Court and regulatory investigations. While Phil works across a wide variety of areas of sports law, he has a particular focus on contentious, regulatory and disciplinary matters. A keen sportsman and a former member of the RFU’s Elite Player Development Scheme – representing Yorkshire and captaining the University of Manchester’s first XV – he joined Centrefield in August 2017, having previously trained at and worked for a global law firm.

Helen Littlewood, Senior Associate

Helen Littlewood

Senior Associate

Recommended in the Legal 500, Helen specialises in all aspects of employment law, providing commercial and practical advice to clients. While she works across a variety of sports and media law, Helen has a particular focus on contentious, contractual and disciplinary matters. She is also an accomplished swimmer, having represented Leicestershire and Jersey, the Channel Islands, and is a keen horse rider.

Deirdre McCarthy, Senior Associate

Deirdre McCarthy

Senior Associate

Deirdre advises across a range of sports and media matters, with particular specialisms in connection with governance arrangements, commercial / contractual matters, digital and social media, team member agreements, selection and participation issues, integrity issues (including anti-bribery compliance and athlete integrity matters) and doping. A keen triathlete and cyclist, Deirdre is fluent in French and is dual qualified having qualified in Ireland. She is a member of the ‘Women’s Sport Network’ and also a UK Anti-Doping Accredited Advisor.

Oliver Sadler, Senior Associate

Oliver Sadler

Senior Associate

Oliver specialises in advising across a range of commercial matters in sport and media, including sponsorship, merchandising, image rights, athlete endorsements and venue and event arrangements. Previously, Oliver has spent time on secondment at Manchester United Football Club. An accomplished cricketer and Oxford University graduate, he is an Oxford Blue, having been the First Team Captain.

Polly Egan, Associate

Polly Egan


Polly works across a wide variety of sports and media law, with a particular focus on contentious contractual, disciplinary and regulatory matters. With experience in commercial disputes, including advising clients in respect of litigation in the High Court and other dispute resolution forums, Polly has also spent time on secondment at a Premier League football club. She is a UK Anti-Doping Accredited Advisor. An accomplished athlete who represented Great Britain in water polo, Polly joined the team in 2020.

Penri Jones, Associate

Penri Jones


Penri advises across all areas of sports and media law, with a particular focus on regulatory and commercial matters. He trained and qualified at an international law firm, and has previously spent time on secondment at a Premier League football club, assisting on a range of operational, commercial and football regulatory matters. A keen footballer, who represented Lincolnshire Schools and Lincoln City Football Club at youth level, Penri joined the Centrefield team in 2020.

Jennifer Norris, Associate

Jennifer Norris


Jennifer works across all areas of sports law encompassing both regulatory and commercial matters. Jennifer qualified in 2014; an Oxford University graduate, she also studied at the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris, is fluent in French and Spanish, and during a year living in Argentina worked in-house for the Argentinean Football Association.

Tom Simpson, Associate

Tom Simpson


Tom specialises in advising on regulatory and commercial matters. Whilst completing his studies at university, Tom – who is fluent in French – spent a year studying in France before training and working at an international law firm in London. He also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Sports Law, jointly awarded by De Montfort University and the British Association of Sports Law, and is a keen sportsman, having completed the Paris, Prague and New York marathons. Tom joined the team in 2019.

Janet Yates, Team Administrator

Janet Yates

Team Administrator

Janet has worked with the team since 2003. Her role includes a wide variety of business support functions including finance and credit control, managing suppliers and event organisation.