News Details Page

Covid from a Sport and In-House Perspective – Chris Over
Ref: 452

Date: Mon 23 Aug 2021 11:15

I retired from private practice 2.5 years ago and joined the board of a PLC as Company Secretary. Our assets are a Premiership rugby team, a large conference centre and a half built 4star hotel. I was naively expecting light duties with use of the Directors Box for games – but then came COVID!! I had always practiced in Regulatory Law including H&S and employment and been a Higher Court Advocate since the 80’s but suddenly I was swapping Crown Court and Commissioners Inquiries for negotiations with government and advice on a wide range of entirely new problems.

The skills learnt as an HCA were invaluable. The furloughing of staff was quite straightforward, but elite athletes do not take kindly to being mothballed which they were in the first lockdown. The negotiations at all levels to get them back to training in a highly physical contact sport were very complex. Then came some returning crowds – promised for the start of October and pulled at the last moment. Reinstated in December we managed 3 games with a small crowd but then lockdown returned again. Putting 2,000 fans in a 13,000 seater stadium in a COVID compliant manner sounds easy but believe me it isn’t!!

Have we survived? So far yes. We have had millions in loans and the legal documentation to support them was extraordinary but they still have to be repaid. I have been involved in many requests for COVID clauses in the contracts for our sponsors, box holders and suppliers all of whom are very nervous about the coming 12 months. The lessons and skills of advocacy have put me in a very good position to argue and negotiate all manner of matters outside my normal experience. I must say however that it is very galling when business is going through such a dire time that our external lawyers still seem to be billing at normal rates. Come on guys share the pain!!

So this year will be remembered for some very difficult times but mostly for one wonderful fact that on consecutive weekends we won firstly the European Cup and then the Premiership, a double only achieved by a handful of clubs. Such a shame though that instead of it being before 83,000 at Twickenham the game was played before just 10 of us!!

Chris Over

Solicitor and Higher Court Advocate (Civil and Criminal)

Director and Company Secretary Exeter Rugby Club PLC

   Copyright © 2005 - 2023 Eic Content Management System Version 5.2 from Edge Impact Consulting Ltd