Legal Disputes That Have Hit the Sports Headlines in 2023!


Legal Disputes That Have Hit the Sports Headlines in 2023!

Are you a sports fan and have an interest in upholding the law? You could be a great sports lawyer!  

Being a sports player or pundit in today’s game means you are required to abide by several laws. Of course, this is not always the case, and there have been many stories in the headlines already this year; from Manchester City’s financial fair play breaches to Ivan Toney’s betting, and Gary Lineker’s social media outburst, to the dislike of the BBC! 

This blog explores both the definition of sports law and examples of current players and pundits that have recently been in the news.  

Sports Law

What is Sports Law? 

Sports law is a series of rules that apply to athletes and the sports they play. It touches on several matters: 

- Employment law 

- Finance and insolvency of sports clubs  

- Player contracts and transfers 

- Immigration laws for foreign players and staff 

- Health and safety regulations at stadiums and training facilities 

- Sponsorship contracts 

- Discrimination law 

- Sports injury and compensation 

Essentially, the aim of sports law is to ensure fairness, equality, and accountability in the sporting world. For example, the current ‘Fight Against Racism’ campaign that is seeing football players take a knee before the start of every match in support of equality.  

Now, let’s explore some of the legal disputes that current sports teams, players, and pundits are facing… 

Gary Lineker’s Twitter Storm  

Sports fans might have witnessed something strange last week as the BBC’s Match of the Day was broadcasted without any presenters, pundits, or commentary for the first time ever. This was done in solidarity with Gary Lineker who has been suspended by the BBC off the back of a tweet he released expressing his negative views of the government’s Illegal Migration Bill.  

Of course, as with everyone in the public eye, there’s a limit on what you can and can’t share on social media due to the influence that it would have in the digital world; but this is revolutionary in the sports law world due to the support that Lineker himself is receiving. The BBC has claimed that he will be forced to take a step back from the show until an agreed and clear position has been reached on his use of social media.  

Ivan Toney’s Betting Scandal 

Premier League fans will be aware of the legal issues that Brentford striker Ivan Toney has been facing regarding betting rules. By law, footballers are prohibited from placing bets on matches or competitions due to their own involvement in the season, as it’s deemed as something they can influence. Toney, however, was first charged in November 2022 for conducting 232 breaches of the Football Association’s betting rules; bets that were allegedly placed between February 2017 and January 2021. Since then, that figure has increased to 262 breaches.  

As punishment, the striker is tipped to serve a lengthy sideline ban after accepting the charges. This is something that would come as a major blow to his team, due to the Premier League club making a surprise push towards the European spots this season. 

Manchester City Financial Fair Play Breaches 

You’ll probably be aware of Manchester City’s league domination over recent years. However, this year they have started to hit the headlines for different reasons. The main one is that they have made 30 breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play rules between 2009 and 2022. 12 of these instances occurred between 2010 and 2016 where the club appeared to lie about how much they are paying players. 

As a result, City is currently facing severe disciplinary measures that could result in UEFA bans or even relegation. 

University of Bolton Law Students

How the University of Bolton Can help you Get into Sports Law 

As part of the LLB Law degree, we offer a specific module focussing on giving students a thorough understanding of sports law. Upon successful completion of this module, students are expected to: 

- Analyse the nature and features of sports law with reference to its development 

- Evaluate the legal implications of the commercialisation of sporting events 

- Appraise and apply legal knowledge to complex sports law problems, and also be able to reflect and evaluate, as well as draw logical conclusions utilising relevant legal authority 

Additionally, as a member of the Bolton School of Law, you will benefit from: 

- Access to our Legal Advice Centre, which gives students the chance to spend a semester studying alongside experienced legal practitioners in a clinic that offers free public legal advice 

- Access to our dedicated Moot Court, where students gain a practical and interactive learning experience by taking part in mock trial negotiations 

- A course that has been voted number one in the UK for Student Satisfaction* 

- Endless support and resources in our dedicated Law Library 

- Our strong industry connections with local law firms and legal service providers  

The support from the University of Bolton could be a great investment in your sports law future. Take the first step to following your passion by clicking here to read about the course in more detail. 

To speak to a member of the team, please email us at or call us on 01204 903807. 

Come and enjoy #UniAsItShouldBe! 

*Complete University Guide – Student Satisfaction UK - 2023 


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We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

Bolton college
Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
QQA Scheme Participant