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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 national associations, leagues, clubs, player associations, individual players and agents 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 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.”

Andrew Gartside, Legal Director

Andrew Gartside

Legal Director

Andrew specialises in advising sport clients on disciplinary, regulatory and contractual matters including loans, transfers and playing contracts. Andrew has also undertaken work on a variety of disputes and has experience in advising clients on immigration related queries, such as visa and work permit requirements. A keen footballer and golfer, Andrew joined the team in 2012.

Deirdre McCarthy, Legal Director

Deirdre McCarthy

Legal Director

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.

Sarah Athi, Legal Director

Sarah Athi

Legal Director

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, Legal Director

Phil Bonner

Legal Director

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.

Oliver Sadler, Legal Director

Oliver Sadler

Legal Director

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.

Alex Brooks, Senior Associate

Alex Brooks

Senior Associate

Alex is a specialist employment lawyer, with broad experience in sport, media and other industries covering employment litigation, contract issues for players, managers and senior executives, corporate transactions, redundancy exercises and a wide range of COVID-related employment matters as well as day-to-day employment and HR issues. Alex has also spent time on secondment at World Sailing as their Interim Director of Legal & Governance and he holds a number of non-executive roles within sport. A keen cricketer and footballer, Alex joined Centrefield in 2022.

Alice Skupski, Senior Associate

Alice Skupski

Senior Associate

Alice specialises in contentious contractual, disciplinary and regulatory matters, and has a broad range of experience in high value High Court litigation, arbitration and contentious regulatory investigations. A Cambridge University graduate, Alice trained and qualified at a Magic Circle firm in London, before joining the team in 2023. Alice represented Lancashire County Netball at youth level and is an avid football and Formula 1 fan.

Asli Akoya, Senior Associate

Asli Akoya

Senior Associate

Asli specialises in all aspects of immigration law, assisting a range of personal and business clients with all matters relating to UK inbound migration.

Asli has particular expertise in corporate immigration including advising businesses in their recruitment of foreign talent, assisting HR teams with Sponsor Licensing / Sponsor Management System (SMS) queries, compliance audits, right to work checks and civil penalties. She also specialises in non-sponsored options for entrepreneurs, global talents and those with high net worth.

Asli is a Law Society accredited senior caseworker and has advised across all areas of immigration and nationality law including entry clearance, leave to remain and settlement (ILR) applications, complex asylum and human rights cases, detention/deportation representations & appeals, victims of domestic violence/torture/trafficking/modern slavery cases, Administrative Reviews and appeal matters at the First-tier and Upper Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chambers (including Bail hearings) and pre-action protocol/Judicial Review claims.

Asli founded the Manchester Turkish British Association (MTBA) in 2016, a registered charity, and with support from the Turkish Embassy and other volunteers, MTBA provides various free services and events for the community across the North West, including Turkish language schooling for children, creative, sport, music and other community events.

Jennifer Norris, Senior Associate

Jennifer Norris

Senior Associate

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.

Polly Egan, Senior Associate

Polly Egan

Senior Associate

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.

Tom Simpson, Senior Associate

Tom Simpson

Senior Associate

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.

George Hanvere, Associate

George Hanvere


George specialises in all aspects of immigration law with particular specialisms in British citizenship and EU Settlement Scheme applications. George qualified at a nationally recognised specialist immigration law firm in March 2023 and joined Centrefield in December 2023. A keen sportsman, George was a two-time national university Handball champion whilst completing his studies.

Mark Scoles-Haas, Associate

Mark Scoles-Haas


Mark is a corporate and commercial lawyer with experience in transactional work, including domestic and cross-border M&A, private equity, joint ventures, group reorganisations and general corporate governance and commercial matters.

He has experience in managing corporate and commercial transactional projects and building relationships with clients and key stakeholders across numerous sectors, including sport, media and retail/e-commerce.

Mark joined the team in 2023 and has a keen love for sport and travelling.

Rebecca Colton, Associate

Rebecca Colton


Rebecca specialises in immigration law including both personal and business matters. Before joining Centrefield in 2023, Rebecca gained accreditation as a Law Society Senior Caseworker and has advised on all areas of immigration and nationality law including Asylum and Human Rights cases, Appeal matters at the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chambers, trafficking and modern slavery cases, visa applications for victims of domestic violence, entry clearance, leave to remain and settlement (ILR) applications, and Judicial Review claims.

Rebecca also played for Nottingham Forest Ladies Football Club prior to attending the University of Leicester where she continued to play football for the Women’s first team. Rebecca currently coaches a DS Active football team.

Robert Danvers, Associate

Robert Danvers


Before joining Centrefield in 2023, Rob practiced as a commercial litigator for a number of years at an international commercial law firm. His experience includes dealing with complex and high-value High Court litigation where he has advised clients on a wide variety of claims such as breach of contract, debt recovery, defamation and unfair prejudice petitions. Rob is a passionate football and cricket fan.

Jodie Ropero, Paralegal

Jodie Ropero


Jodie is a fluent Spanish speaker and a qualified lawyer in Venezuela, where she practiced criminal and civil law. She relocated to the UK in 2016 and gained experience as an immigration caseworker before joining the immigration team at Centrefield in February 2023. Her casework experience includes International Sportsperson, skilled worker and GBM cases, EU Settlement Scheme, family, entry clearance, leave to remain and settlement (ILR) applications, naturalisation and registration cases, asylum and human rights applications, and visa applications for victims of domestic violence, among other matters.

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.

Tara Eller, Team Administrator

Tara Eller

Team Administrator

Tara’s role includes a wide variety of administrative support including credit control, HR support, booking travel, event organisation and client on-boarding. Tara joined the team in 2023.