Bird & Bird advises England team on 2018 World Cup bid

Bird & Bird has played a key role in England’s bid to secure the 2018 World Cup.

The City firm beat 16 other law firms in April 2009 to secure the advisory mandate for England’s bid to host the championships. It is due to find out later today (2 December) whether the England committee has successfully seen off competition from rival bids including Russia and Spain/Portugal to host the tournament.

Bird & Bird has been carrying out all legal work for the England 2018 committee for the last 18 months, including sponsorship, stadium hire and hotel agreements, as well as delivering legal opinions.

Sports group head Justin Walkey has been leading the firm’s team, assisted by sports partner Felicity Reeve and senior associate Paul O’Dowd. The trio has worked closely with England 2018’s chief operating officer, Simon Johnson, who has previously held roles including director of legal and business affairs for the Football Association (FA) Premier League.

Bird & Bird won the mandate through its experience advising the FA over the last 20 years, as the bid committee is a subsidiary of the body.

Walkey said: “The sheer volume and diversity of work in a day-to-day context was interesting, as was the interaction with government and local authorities. It was a real challenge for the team to assist the client in finalising all aspects of the technical bid for submission within the FIFA deadlines.”

He added: “We believe that the strengths of the technical bid are compelling and very much hope to be involved in advising the local organising committee for the staging of the World Cup in 2018 if the England bid is successful.”

Johnson added: “There was huge amount of work which went into the bidding process and we wanted to have a firm who would genuinely work side by side with us and understand what we wanted to achieve. Bird & Bird has a long-running history with Fifa, knows the industry and provided cost-effective work.”