The north-east is known as a big-hearted region with a passion for sport - particularly football. The rapid rise in specialist charities and sports law practitioners in the region underlines this.
In both sectors Watson Burton is a strong player. The Alnwick Garden Trust, the region's largest charitable project, is a client, and the firm is leading the way for Football in the Community schemes throughout the country.
The solicitors have acted for Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme, now the largest community scheme of its kind in the country, for over four years. Millwall and Colchester United also made successful applications to the Charity Commissioners as clients of Watson Burton. Colchester United Community Sports Trust has retained Watson Burton to act as company secretary.
The firm has also advised Fulham, Wimbledon, Stockport County and Brentford about the conversion of their community schemes to charitable status, and is currently in detailed discussions with several other clubs. Watson Burton was also recently instructed by Gretna FC in the incorporation of the professional club itself.
Away from football, Watson Burton is working with London Irish Rugby Club and Newcastle Falcons, advising on community-based charitable projects.
Watson Burton's John Devine is active in both charity and sports law.
He said: "We're now helping to create new dimensions for the community development schemes. Leyton Orient recently entered into a pounds 4m joint venture with a fellow charity, Orient Regeneration Trust, to create Sports Club Orient to promote active participation in sports and social activities. We are also working with London Irish RFC, one of the first rugby clubs to consider a charitable community scheme similar to those created for football. …