Liz Ellen, Partner, Dispute Resolution

Personal Profile

Liz is a Partner and Head of the Sports Group. Her practice is solely focused on sport, and her in-depth knowledge of the industry means that she is always able to provide her clients with the clear and decisive advice they require. Since 2011, Liz has been ranked as a leading lawyer in sport in Chambers & Partners.

She is strategic and creative in her approach, and finds innovative solutions to complex issues. She is a specialist litigator but also a trusted advisor to clubs, athletes, rights holders and governing bodies, understanding how their legal situations fit within their public profile and wider business needs. She has expertise in fraud and corruption issues in sport, a strong regulatory knowledge and good commercial awareness.

Liz has represented clients in cases before FIFA, the European Boxing Union, the Basketball Arbitration Tribunal and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, as well as domestic tribunals such as the Football Associations of England, Scotland and Wales, the British Boxing Board of Control, the British Horseracing Authority and UK Anti-Doping. She also has significant experience of litigating cases through both arbitration and the High Court. 

Much of Liz's work has an international aspect, including cross-border transfer deals and disputes, sports immigration and image rights structures. In the past two years alone she has advised on transfer deals worth over £300m. She has a particular focus on the Far Eastern sport industry and is often consulted by Chinese football clubs, Asian investors looking at European opportunities, and by clubs, players and agents seeking to do business in the Far East. 

Liz is a director of Women In Football (WIF), a member of the Beyond Sport Advisory Board, a founding member of Women In Sports Law (WISLaw), and a member of the British Association of Sport and Law (BASL). She was the only practicing lawyer to appear in the Independent's inaugural list of "50 Most Influential Women in Sport", in which she was ranked 13th. Since 2014, Liz has run the Mishcon Sports Law Academy – an educational course where aspiring lawyers can learn about a wide range of sports law issues from the lawyers who manage those cases. She is also a mentor for Kick It Out's 'Raise Your Game' scheme. 

Key Experience

  • Advising on the €40m Bundesliga record transfer of Brazilian international, Roberto Firmino, from Hoffenheim to Liverpool FC.
  • Advising on the €20m transfer of Dutch international, Giorginio Wijnaldum, from PSV Eindhoven to Newcastle United FC.
  • Representing China's Dalian Aerbin FC in cases before FIFA's Dispute Resolution Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the High Court of Hong Kong.
  • Representing a Premier League football club in a substantial claim before FIFA's Players' Status Committee.
  • Acting for a Premier League football club on reputational issues relating to the building of a new stadium.
  • Representing a Scottish football club in tribunal proceedings on a dispute with the Scottish Football Association.
  • Acting for Cardiff City Football Club on a wide variety of legal issues, including obtaining an ex parte injunction against a former employee in relation to transfer impropriety.
  • Acting for Leyton Orient Football Club on High Court judicial review claims and Rule K arbitration proceedings relating to the Olympic Stadium.
  • Acting for Matchroom Sport Limited on the sale of its shares in Leyton Orient Football Club.
  • Acting for a number of clubs from the UK, Holland, Spain, Croatia and China, in relation to solidarity claims.
  • Bringing Fraud & Bribery Act claims in relation to player transfers both in the High Court and in private arbitration.
  • Advising on the complicated administration of a lower league football club, and dealing with the subsequent litigation arising from the administration.
  • Advising a club in its discrimination claim against its governing body over distribution of funds.
  • Providing football due diligence advice to a prospective purchaser of a large Premier League football club.
  • Acting for darts legend, Phil 'The Power' Taylor, on reputational and commercial matters.
  • Representing Rio Ferdinand and other high profile sportsmen and women on reputational matters (including use of Twitter).
  • Intervening on behalf of a player in criminal proceedings so as to prevent the player being maliciously defamed in open court.
  • Acting for Peter Odemwingie on a constructive dismissal claim against a club following his exclusion from all first team activities.
  • Defending heavyweight boxer, Dillian Whyte, in a doping prosecution brought by UK Anti-Doping.
  • Representing a racehorse owner in a betting corruption inquiry before the British Horseracing Authority.
  • Challenging a ban imposed by the European Boxing Union on British champion boxer, Ashley Theophane, leaving him free to challenge for the European title.
  • Structuring a complicated cross-border transfer deal for Egyptian striker, Mido, so as to protect his immigration status.
  • Obtaining a unique 'Football Investor Visa' for a Brazilian player who was not eligible for a working visa.
  • Negotiating and structuring image rights deals on behalf of high profile sportsmen.
  • Dealing with sensitive race discrimination issues for a player against his manager.
  • Representing boxing promoters Barry Hearn, Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport on matters before the British Board of Boxing Control and in High Court proceedings.
  • Providing general advice to World Snooker Limited.
  • Advising Professional Darts Corporation on commercial and regulatory matters.
  • Representing Global Media Productions in their production of the Football Dream television show, broadcast across China, and their partnerships with Rio Ferdinand, Ajax and Tottenham Hostpur.
  • Advising a global brand on ambush marketing issues and the impact of the London Olympic Games & Paralympic Games Act 2006.

Career History

Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Associate, Mishcon de Reya
Solicitor, Mishcon de Reya
Member of the Football Association's Agents Panel from 2007-2015
Masters in Sports Management & the Business of Football, Birkbeck College, University of London
Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Law, Kings College, University of London
Legal Practice Course, The College of Law
Law LLB, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London

Articles and Publications

  • Liz provides insight on sporting issues to the media. Some of her published work is available to download from the column on the right. She has spoken at events for Kick It Out, Women In Football and at the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime.
  • Her Masters dissertation topic was "@Twitter: Should Players Be Trusted To Tweet". In 2011, Liz was runner-up in the prestigious Coubertain Olympic Awards Essay Competition, writing about ethics, business and sport in the context of the London 2012 Olympic legacy.



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