Image rights contracts increase players’ taxes, and teams can breach them without any liability to the player. Over the last ten or so years many European teams have begun signing players to image rights contracts in addition to the players’ salary contracts. Teams get significant tax advantages from image rights contracts and often pressure agents and players to sign them. Many agents and players do not understand the full legal ramifications in terms of tax liability and enforcement, and sign the image rights contracts without much thought. But that needs to change because many teams are now using the BAT to avoid their obligations in the image rights contracts.
How Image Rights Contracts Work
Here’s how image rights contracts work: Typically a player will sign an original contract with a team for a salary amount net of all taxes. Let’s use, for example, a contract worth $200,000. After the player signs the original contract, the team will approach the player with two additional contracts, a league contract and an image rights contract.… Read More
This is a continuing series documenting cases the IBPA’s lawyers have resolved in favor of their clients without having to resort to BAT Arbitration.
BFSN Law’s attorneys recently settled a case for $25,000 for a client without having to resort to BAT arbitration. An agent (“European Agent”) contacted the IBPA because one of his players (“Player”), with whom he signed a 2-year player-agent agreement, had signed a contract to play for a European Team (“Team”) with another agent (“US Agent”). The Player’s contract with the Team stated the US Agent, and not our client, was to receive the $25,000 agent fee. The European Agent wanted to know what he could do to get the agent fee.
Most agents sign players to 1- or 2-year player-agent agreements with evergreen provisions. Evergreen provisions are more commonly known as rollover provisions because they act to roll the contract over at the end of the primary term for additional 1-year terms unless the player or the agent properly terminates prior to the end of the primary term.… Read More
Yesterday FIBA announced it is sanctioning S.S. Sutor Srl, Montegranaro for failure to pay BAT arbitration awards BAT 0439/13 – Burns, Hart Sports Management, Players Group Srl vs. SS Sutor Srl; BAT 0449/13 – Steele, Greig, Slay vs. SS Sutor Srl; BAT 0463/13 – Johnson vs. SS Sutor Srl. The BAT issued the above awards against Sutor on March 20, 2014. The original story can be seen here.
BFSN Law represented all 7 claimants against Sutor. The awards are worth an approximate $350,000.00 in total.… Read More
BFSN Law recently helped seven separate claimants win three arbitration awards against S.S. Sutor Srl, Montegranaro, a team playing in A-1 Italy. The three awards are worth approximately $350,000.00 combined, not including taxes. The awards are:
BAT 0439/13 – Burns, Hart Sports Management, Players Group Srl vs. SS Sutor Srl
BAT 0449/13 – Steele, Greig, Slay vs. SS Sutor Srl
The relationship between the BAT and FIBA may call into question the independence of the BAT. In the early days of the BAT, the tribunal was called the FIBA Arbitral Tribunal. The BAT was originally funded by FIBA and is still to this day guaranteed by FIBA. See FIBA Reg 296 (The financing of the BAT is guaranteed by FIBA, it being understood that the BAT is designed to be self-financing). The tribunal’s name was changed in an attempt to make the independence of the BAT more clear (it was also changed so people would stop referring to the female BAT secretariat as the “FAT lady”).
In a widely disseminated letter, BFSN Law announced that it has filed arbitrations with the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal on behalf of four former American players of SS Sutor Srl, of Montegranaro, Italy, a team currently playing in Serie A.
BFSN Law stated that it “represents former Sutor players Christian Burns, Kyle Johnson, Ron Steele, and Tamar Slay,” and that “Sutor has failed to honor its obligations to all of these Players.” The letter states that “[w]hen these parties win the arbitrations, Sutor’s total liability, including interest, costs, and legal fees, will likely exceed $591,000.00.”
Sutor has apparently failed to respond to attempts by BFSN Law to amicably settle the dispute without the need of BAT arbitrations.
Click below to view a copy of the original letter:
BAT awards may no longer be appealable except in very limited situations. But that wasn’t always the case. From its inception in 2006 until 2010, the BAT included in every award a section titled “Appeal,” under which the following paragraph was included:
Awards of the FAT can only be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Lausanne, Switzerland and any such appeal must be lodged with CAS within 21 days from the communication of the award. The CAS shall decide the appeal ex aequo et bono and in accordance with the Code of Sports-related Arbitration, in particular the Special Provisions Applicable to the Appeal Arbitration Procedure.
However, in 2010 FIBA and the BAT removed the appeal language from the awards and the standard arbitration clause in an effort to maximize leverage against breaching teams. Not unsurprisingly many teams were intentionally breaching contracts, not participating in the arbitration, and appealing the BAT awards to postpone as long as possible payment of the award.… Read More
This is the second part of a two-part series on rollover provisions in player-agent agreements. To see the first part, click here.
The point of all this, of course, is how can an agent enforce his player-agent agreement on a) players who go behind the agent’s back to sign with a new agent, and b) agents who poach players under a binding contract.
a) Enforcing against Players who Breach
How can an agent enforce his player-agent contract against a player? The agent can always petition FIBA to sanction the player. The FIBA regulations prohibit certain actions by players. “A player may use the services of only one Agent licensed under the terms and conditions of these Regulations.” FIBA Reg. 163. FIBA has the authority to sanction Players who violate FIBA Regulations: “In the event that a player uses the services of . . . more than one agent at the same time, FIBA acting through the Secretary General is entitled to:
The past few months we have received several complaints from FIBA agents about players signing contracts behind their backs and other agents poaching players. This two-part article explores the legality under the FIBA regulations of rollover clauses in player-agent agreements and what remedies agents have against their former players and other agents. To view the second part, click here.
A rollover clause is a contractual provision that causes the contract to roll over after each agreed period until cancelled by one party. Many FIBA agents utilize a 1-year rollover provision that requires notice prior to 30 days before the end of the 1-year term. This type of provision eliminates the need to re-sign the player each year and gives both the player and agent confidence for the future. Many player-agent agreements are signed in the summer months, which is the peak scouting and signing season for European teams. If an agent were constantly unsure about a player’s status because the agent had to re-sign the player during the summer each year, that agent would be less likely to focus his energy on getting that player a job.… Read More
One of the most common questions we hear about BAT cases is what law does the Tribunal use. The answer: ex aequo et bono, which is a Latin phrase that means “In equity and good conscience” legal-dictionary.com. The BAT rules state ex aequo et bono means the arbitrator applies “general considerations of justice and fairness without reference to any particular national or international law.” BAT Rule 15.1. But what does that mean? Essentially, the BAT decides cases based on fairness and equity for the betterment of the parties.
This can be a confusing concept for many who are used to state and federal statutes being applied in their home courts. Especially individuals who come from civil law jurisdictions based on the Napoleonic Code, which include most of Europe and Latin America. The civil code is a series of very specific statutes that pronounce the law in a particular state. The law is written, stemming from statutes, and is not decided by the particular tribunal hearing the dispute.… Read More