Steve Bainbridge is a partner in the Dubai office and head of the firm’s Middle East Sports & Entertainment team.

Steve has extensive experience gained on a wide array of transactions underpinning the sports sector, from governance issues to athlete endorsement agreements, anti-ambush marketing strategies, player contracts, broadcasting, merchandising and licensing agreements, disciplinary issues and various sports-specific venue management arrangements. He regularly advises foreign law firms, individuals, corporate entities, governing bodies and institutions on matters spanning motorsports, horseracing, triathlons, MMA, cycling, golf, tennis, cricket, rugby and football, among others. With significant top-tier law firm experience in both North America and the Far East prior to moving to the Middle East, Steve spent a number of years at one of the largest law firms in Tokyo, representing clients on broadcasting rights and sponsorship contracts in connection with FIFA World Cups, X-Games, PGA tour sponsorships, videogame licensing and stadium naming rights deals.

Steve is a World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal member, a lecturer and advisor to numerous Sports Law LL.M. programmes. Prior to joining the firm, he developed the first specialised sports and events practice in the GCC at a regional firm and he was previously general counsel at Yas Marina Circuit, managing the central legal function of the iconic F1 circuit, overseeing all contracts from F1 rights through sponsorship, broadcasting and venue contracts, as well as managing litigation, supervising secondees and outside counsel, and advising the CEO and the Board on risk and strategy. Steve has been recognised in The Legal 500 (TMT), Chambers Global (Commercial) and Who’s Who Legal as a leader in Sports & Entertainment.

Steve has lectured at the University of Stirling, Waseda University, Beasley School of Law – Temple Law School (Japan Campus), St. John’s University School of Law (New York) and ISDE (Madrid), where he lectures annually for the International Sports Law LL.M. programme. He is a member of the Editorial Board of and is an author of the UAE Chapter in the Sports Law Review and Egypt Sports Law in Getting the Deal Through. He routinely contributes articles and thought leadership pieces in print, radio and online media, as well as speaking on sports and events at numerous conferences and seminars both regionally and internationally (including annually as a member of the steering committee for the International Forum on Sports Law).

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  • Advising one of the largest current Saudi Arabian Giga-Projects in the KSA in respect of designing and drafting a comprehensive set of regulations in respect of all sports and events activity in a specialised geographical region, including advising on disapplication of base law and developing global best practices for the same.
  • Advising Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management LLC in respect of the annual Yas Marina Circuit – Formula OneTM Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix F1 event, as well as on a range of events and initiatives held at the facility, including licensing use of venue specifications and likeness rights for gaming use across multiple media platforms, triathlons, walkathons, 10-kilometre runs and motorsports endurance races, drag events, Formula Drift competitions and various auto manufacturer product launches and bespoke recreation packages.
  • Advising the Asian Football Confederation and Local Organising Committee on all aspects of IP protection for the recent Asian Cup held in the UAE in 2019, including developing and implementing a comprehensive intellectual property Rights Protection Programme and liaising with all relevant local authorities to implement the same.
  • Advising Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority on commercial and licensing matters relating to the inaugural European Challenge Tour event hosted by the Al Hamra Golf Club.
  • Advising AEG Ogden Middle East LLC (venue operator) in connection with the launch of Dubai’s premier multipurpose sports and entertainment arena, including on naming rights, sponsorship, ticketing and venue hire matters.
  • Retained by KSA governmental entity Saudi Arabian General Authority of Sports (now Ministry of Sports) to undertake a review of sports club regulations and to provide advice on drafting and implementing certain new regulations.
  • Retained by RCS Sports and Events DMCC to provide full legal support, including sponsorship, HSE, event ambassador agreements, broadcast arrangements, etc., in respect of the annual UCI sanctioned professional stage-based road race (UAE Professional Cycling Tour).
  • Retained by GM Sports to provide legal support in connection with the Masters Champions’ League, the first-ever retired international legends T-20 cricket tournament held in Sharjah and Dubai in 2016, advising on corporate governance, anti-corruption protocols, player auction processes, franchising structure and negotiations with the Emirates Cricket Board on licensing matters.
  • Retained by the world governing body of Rugby League, Rugby League International Federation, in connection with a number of issues in the UAE, including negotiations with the General Authority for Youth & Sports Welfare.
  • Retained by Glory Sports International Pte. Ltd., a premier international kickboxing organisation, to advise in connection with a Glory World Series kickboxing league event held in Dubai.
  • Advising a growing number of professional football clubs, players and agents in connection with matters ranging from compliance to disciplinary proceedings and player contracts across the GCC.
  • Directly advising football clubs, players and intermediaries in connection with Asian Football Confederation disciplinary procedures and contract queries, motorsports teams in connection with FIA Court of Appeal proceedings, jockeys in respect of tribunal appeals before the Emirates Racing Authority and various ad hoc disciplinary matters.
  • Retained to negotiate and draft athlete endorsement agreements and appearance fees, including Olympic gold medallists, pro golf stars, Major League Baseball stars, WTA tennis pros and numerous football personalities.


  • In addition to matters in the GCC, considerable experience handling matters related to the FIFA World Cup (counsel for the advertising company that secured Asian broadcast and sponsorship rights for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups); USPGA Tour Events (counsel for the title sponsor to the USPGA event); X-Games, Princess Cup (WTA), FIFA Club World Cup (counsel to the title sponsor and multiple venues); and Pre-season Club Tours (counsel to the agency managing EPL and Bundesliga champions’ tours to the Far East).
  • Acted as counsel for an advertising company that secured Asian broadcast and sponsorship rights for each of the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Involved in negotiations for the same client seeking appointment as advertising agent for 2010 and 2014 World Cups and additional FIFA events.
  • Acted as counsel for the title sponsor to the PGA event on the US tour. Revised documentation, including a four-year sponsorship agreement. Subsequently advised the client on the consequences of premature termination of the same, and drafted a termination notice.
  • Acted as counsel for an F1 team upon entry into Formula One. Reviewed, advised on and revised the Application Agreement (including associated documentation, letter of credit, escrow letter, etc.) in accordance with F1 regulations.
  • Acted for an advertising agency in negotiations with Toyota for its corporate sponsorship (at “title sponsor” level) of major sporting events (X-Games, Princess Cup, World Football Club Championships).
  • Acted as outside counsel for an advertising agency in negotiating, drafting and amending agreements with professional football teams from England, Germany and South America, as well as governing bodies UEFA and CONMEBOL, in connection with pre-season tour events scheduled across the Far East.
  • Acted as counsel for an advertising agent in securing the promotional use of an Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist swimmer in promoting certain events and coaching clinics in Japan.
  • Acted as counsel for an advertising agency in securing the appearance of Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie at high-profile Japanese tournaments, including negotiating and drafting terms and conditions of appearances.
  • Acted as counsel for the agent of a Japanese soft drink giant in negotiating and drafting an agreement for the name and likeness use of a US baseball star (Cy Young winner) in television commercials and point-of-purchase marketing, including the protocol for filming sessions.
  • Acted as counsel for an agency that secured the name and likeness rights of a prominent Bundesliga football star for use in TV and point-of-purchase endorsements; included negotiating and drafting all related rights documentation.
  • Acted as counsel for a videogame manufacturer in securing rights and protocols for the use of a WTA top 10 athlete name and likeness use in creating a digital game.


  • Dalhousie Law School, N.C.A (Hons), 1998
  • University of Manchester, School of Law, L.L.B. (Hons), 1996
  • Mount Allison University, B.Sc., 1992


  • New Brunswick, 2006
  • New York, 2004
  • British Columbia Canada, 2000
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