John Devine

Partner and Head of the Sports Team

21 years qualified

With a passion for sport at all levels, John is Head of the Sports Team and works with athletes, agents, sporting organisations and governing bodies on a wide range of sports-related legal issues, including regulatory and governance matters, compliance issues, constitutional reviews, commercial contracts, image rights, sponsorship and endorsement, licensing and event management.

He has also advised a range of high-profile athletes, professional players, clubs and governing bodies in football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, basketball, ice hockey and boxing. And as he speaks pretty fluent French, John has been in a position to advise several international players and their families who have come to work and live in the UK.

Currently, John is working alongside The Football Association to provide a legal support service for the County FAs. He also assists The Professional Footballers’ Association on the establishment of charitable foundations by individual players.

Thanks to the efforts of John and his team, Muckle is the only firm ranked for sport in the region and remains in the top tier by Legal 500 which comments that “the sports practice remains ‘pre-eminent’ under department head John Devine.” In 2021 the firm was re-appointed to the Sport England Legal Panel Framework as one of only 2 national firms selected to support specialist sports law.  Since 2012, Muckle has also been the legal provider to both England Athletics and parkrun UK.

More personally, Legal 500 has commented that “Muckle LLP’s practice head John Devine is a go-to adviser for clients in the sports sector, regularly handling commercial and regulatory issues for high-profile clubs (he has advised nearly every professional football club in England) and individuals (including international sportsmen and women).” John was named UK Lawyer of the Year in the Sports category at the annual Corporate Livewire Awards 2014.

His keen interest in CSR in sport has enabled John to advise over 100 professional sports clubs on the establishment of community sports and education charities (regulatory companies affiliated to, and supported by, professional clubs), including over two thirds of the clubs in the Premier League and Football League. John also serves on the boards of the official charities affiliated to Chelsea FC and Queens Park Rangers FC  and is charity trustee of NFL Foundation UK, Chelsea FC Foundation, The Chelsea Players’ Trust, QPR in the Community Trust and The Great North Air Ambulance Service. John is former Director of Northumberland FA.

At the last count, John has visited 61 of the 92 grounds in the football league. His favourite ground, other than St. James’ Park, of course, is Fulham’s Craven Cottage, as it has, he says, ‘a lot of character and is pretty unique.’ He still plays (very) amateur football and is a keen cyclist.

John Devine