Contracts in the Sports Industry and the Clauses Covered Under it

By: Tanisha Yadav


Sport is that social phenomenon that has existed from a very long time in all levels of society. It represents the country’s culture and affects people’s lifestyle, health, values, social status, country’s relation, fashion trends, etc.

It is a type of game or contest where people get involved and perform physical activities to compete against each other following definite rules and regulations. Cricket, football, basketball, and volleyball are played by the number of people in different parts of the world.

The sport has now taken the industry’s shape from the last few decades to which we often called the Sports industry. It is a market with an economic dimension, which offers products, services, places and ideas related to sport, fitness or leisure time to its consumers[1] which also involves people, organizations and businesses who facilitate, promote, and organize activities and events based on sports.

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Contract in the Sports Industry:

Sports Contracts are similar to those contracts we come across in our everyday life; they are the mutual agreements that legally bind two or more parties.

Generally speaking, the sports industry’s Contract occurs between the sports organization/sports Agent and player/Athlete.

It defines the rights and responsibilities of the various participants in the business of professional sports.[2]

All the sports contracts are express in which parties give their consensus by words either spoken or written to enter into the Contract by way of offer, acceptance and consideration in Contract. Virtually, in sports contracts, implied contracts are not considered as a real contract as its very hard to prove the implied Sports contract.

Apart from offer, acceptance and consideration, an athlete’s capacity, mutual agreement, mutual obligation and subject matter are the essential ingredients in forming the sports contract. If the athlete is an adult, he can sign the contract, but his legal guardian must sign the Contract if the athlete is minor.

In India, Sports Contracts are governed by The Indian Contract Act, 1872, and The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.

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Following are the considerable areas/ subject matter in which sports contracts takes place[3]:

  • Endorsement and merchandising Contract
  • Contract of Sponsorship Rights
  • Contracts between Player and managers or Agency contracts.
  • Deal of Membership rights in sporting clubs or organizations.
  • Contract of Image rights
  • The contract for appearances by players
  • Contract of Participation Rights and Obligations.
  • Presenter’s Contract
  • Contract of sale of media rights with event managers, Broadcasters and promoters.
  • Endorsement and merchandising Contract
  • Contract of Player transfer
  • Contract of Brand rights.

Player-Agent Relationship:

The player-Agent relationship is significant in sports contracts, as the player is sometimes so occupied in his sports that he doesn’t get time to negotiate Contract and handle everything. Sometimes the player faces difficulty in understanding terms of the contracts too. In that scenario, the player needs a person to trust, who can look and manage a player’s commercial relationships.

Player: Player is a person who actively participates in any sports requires endurance.

Agent: A agent is a person who carries a fiduciary relationship with the player in which he serves a significant role in negotiating contracts of the professional player and handles finances and public relations.

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Professional Service Contracts: These contracts are also known as standard player’s contracts. These contracts are usually in a “boilerplate” form. The boilerplate form is the standardized forms in which standard or generic language is used.

These boilerplate forms are used where a state of Contract that can be reused in a new context without having any substantial changes in it.[4] Thus, the wording of these contracts can be used again and again without any alteration or reformation. If a professional athlete is part of a team, usually the athlete receives a standard player’s contract.[5] Hence, the professional service contracts are the same for all the athletes except the differences in salary and athletes’ bonus and involve an employer-employee relationship. Furthermore, these contracts also leave the scope of modification that can be modified by introducing collateral agreements.

Endorsement Contracts: Endorsement contracts are the independent contracts which do not require employer-employee relationship. An endorsement contract is one that grants the sponsor the right to use (i.e., license) the athlete’s name, image, or likeness in connection with advertising the sponsor’s products or services.[6]

Appearance Contracts: The appearance contracts are those contracts which pay the player/athlete for his/her appearance in any public event of any organization, institute or company by way of Contract. Thus, it is a contract between the venue and the athlete. It includes Sports camp, sports tournament etc. It sets out the time and dates for the appearance of an athlete on the venue location.

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Besides, if under any of the kind of contract, the contracting party extends beyond the scope of the terms of the Contract, under section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, i.e., restraint of trade, it would be void and not enforceable.[7]


Title: Its always essential that there should be a title of the Contract, through which one can identify the very nature of the Contract.

Information Clause: Under this clause, the information of the contracting parties is mentioned. Such as the name and address of the parties to the Contract. It also includes the information that on which date the Contract was made.

Player services Clause[8]: What type of service provided by the player is being discussed under this clause.

Player obligations Clause: This clause contains the obligations of contracting parties towards each other. It elucidates the rights, duties and responsibilities of the parties.

Term clause: This clause specifies the Contract’s duration—the time of Contract from the beginning to the end date. After completing the due date, the Contract automatically terminates, although it is subject to the renewal option of Contract to the parties.

Revenue-sharing Clause: If any organization or a company is hiring the player on the promise of sharing revenue, this clause discloses the information about the percentage and related details shared between the parties to the Contract.

Bonus Clause: This clause states that the player would get a bonus amount on his/her exceptional performance in sport.

Arbitration Clause: This clause expounds that if any dispute, controversy or any claim arises or if the issue related to breach of contract, non-performance or interpretation of Contract occurs then in that case, the matter will be resolved by the arbitrator on request of any of the parties. If parties do not agree on an arbitrator in any case, then in that scenario, both the parties will select one arbitrator. Then both the arbitrators shall select a third, and then the third arbitrator shall arbitrate the dispute.

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Board, lodging, and travel expenses Clause: 

This clause deals with the board, lodging and travel expenses of the player. It states that all the costs mentioned above will be borne by the club or organization hiring the player.

Choice of Forum Clause: Under this clause, the choice of law is mentioned through which contracting parties would like to govern, construe and enforce the Contract. As most of the sports contracts affect the parties belongs to different states, choosing a common law or jurisdiction can save parties from any further jurisdictional issues.

Remuneration and other benefits Clause: This clause states the player’s remuneration for his services.

No-Tempering Clause:  A no-tampering clause which avers that one player cannot attempt to entice another employee to enter negotiations with another club while under Contract to a different team.[9]

Confidentiality clause: Most contracts come with the confidentiality clause; certain things need to be confidential between the contracting parties only. Therefore, under this clause, contracting parties agree to keep the Contract’s contents and related matter confidential. This clause binds the parties to the Contract even after the termination of the Contract.

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Player restrictions/Hazardous Activities Clause: Under this clause, the player agrees that during the duration of the Contract the player will not engage in any other sport or any activity which can involve the substantial risk of any personal injury or which can impair the skill of the player in his sport. Apart from that, this clause contains other restriction on the player by the organization or club for the effective enforcement of the Contract. If the player breaches any of the rules and regulation mentioned under the clause or if the player becomes injured as a direct result in taking part in the given activity, the team/organization can transfer the financial risk onto the player.[10]

Non-assignment Clause: Sports contracts are personal services contract, and therefore it cannot be assigned or transferred to any other person, firm, corporation, or other entity without the prior, express, and written consent of the other party.[11]

Termination Clause: A termination clause gives the right to the contracting parties to terminate the sports contract. Commonly, it is based on the failure of the parties’ performance, breach of any material condition, warranties, or the express agreement. Furthermore, in most cases, the contract is terminated because the player is no longer fit for the sport or cannot meet the team’s need.

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Usually, the party seeking to terminate the agreement must give the other advance written notice of his intention to terminate the Contract. As long as the party seeking to terminate the Contract complies with the notice provisions, termination of the Contract is permissible.[12]

Remedies Clause: A breach of Contract can be remedied through monetary damages, restitution or specific performance. Although, the parties seek for the remedial measures which were promised under the clause.

These were the few clauses present in almost every sports contract; there are some other clauses whose inclusion mainly depends on the nature of the sports contract.


In India, the sports industry is at its boom. There are so many sports contracts that are signed every day in this industry. It is quintessential that the contract drafter should take exceptional care while drafting the policies, procedure and clauses under the Contract. Because it prevents the parties from any predicament.

But, it’s so sad that due to lack of proper sports law, Indian sports industry witnesses scandals and unfair dismissal of players. Today, there is a dire need for the introduction of sports legislation. Because it’s the only ray which can address this situation and bring fairness in this industry. Thus, for the Indian sports industry’s consistent growth, a healthy balance in the enforcement of Contract is required.

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[1] IGI Global, What is Sports Industry, IGI Global, (last visited on Jul., 17, 2020).

[2] Avinandan Chattopadhyay, Regulation and Liabilities of Parties in Sports Contract, Social Science Research Network, file:///C:/Users/HP/Downloads/SSRN-id2145520.pdf (last visited on Jul., 17, 2020).

[3] Farleys: Solicitors LLP, Sports Contracts and Agreements, Farleys, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[4] James Chen, Boilerplate, Investopedia (Sep., 03, 2019),

[5] US Legal, Sports Contracts – Basic Principles, US Legal, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[6] Supra note 6.

[7] Supra note 3.

[8] Anirudh Rastogi and Vishak Ranjit, E-Sports Player Contracts: Common Clauses And Potential Legal Issues In India, Ikigai Law: Mondaq (Jun., 18, 2020),

[9] Supra note 2.

[10] Adam Epstein & Josh Benjamin, Unique Clauses in Sport Contracts, Sh10an: WordPress, (last visited on Jul., 19, 2020).

[11] US Legal, Drafting Suggestions for A Sports Contract, US Legal, (last visited on Jul., 20, 2020).

[12] Roshan Gopalakrishna & Vidya Narayanaswamy, Sponsorship Contracts – Reasonableness of Contractual Restraints, The Sports Law and Policy Centre (Feb., 10, 2011),