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Matthew Astley

Associate Solicitor

Dispute Resolution

Professional Background:

Matthew joined Harrison Drury in June 2016 and is able to assist with the full range of commercial litigation matters. He has a particular interest and experience in sports-related litigation and disciplinary matters, and litigation arising from an employment setting. He is the founding head of Harrison Drury’s Sports Sector team.

After graduating at the top of his class with a degree in Law from the University of Central Lancashire, Matthew went on to complete the Bachelor of Civil Law degree at the University of Oxford where he was awarded the Bruce Reynolds Prize for Best Performance by Worcester College.

Matthew was called to the Bar in 2013 by Gray’s Inn having been a Prince of Wales scholar and he worked as a Senior Manager at Citizens Advice Lancashire West for four years before qualifying as a solicitor.

Matthew has experience advising in a wide range of commercial litigation matters, including general contractual disputes, shareholder and boardroom disputes, defamation and malicious falsehood, employment-related litigation (including bringing and defending claims for breach of restrictive covenants and misuse of confidential information) and professional negligence matters.

In the sports sphere, Matthew has advised in specialist arbitration cases and subsequent appeals to the courts, including in disputes arising from the transfer of players. He also has a particular interest and experience in regulatory and disciplinary cases, including mechanical doping cases, across a number of sports, including football, cycling and rugby league.

Recent notable sports work includes:

  • Fleetwood Wanderers Ltd (t/a Fleetwood Town Football Club) v AFC Fylde Ltd [2018] EWHC 3318 (Comm) (30 November 2018) – sports arbitration and litigation:
  • British Cycling v CJ (2019) – allegations of mechanical doping.
  • The Football Association v JH (2021) – 2 Aggravated Breach: second case before an FA Regulatory Commission concerning the new StandardMinimum sanction pursuant to Appendix 1 to Part A: Section One: General Provisions.
  • The Rugby Football League v SB (2021) – defence of a Grade D dangerous contact charge before the RFL Operational Rules Tribunal.

Matthew has also been appointed to The FA’s National Serious Case Panel, which adjudicates on all types of serious disciplinary cases within grassroots football, for the 2021/2022 season.

Personal Interests:

In his spare time, Matthew enjoys watching and playing sport, particularly rugby league, which he previously played professionally, coming through the academy ranks at Wigan Warriors before later signing for Leigh Centurions. Latterly, Matthew played for Leigh Miners Rangers in the National Conference League.

Now retired, Matthew remains actively involved in the rugby league community and has been appointed as a Community Game Discipline Panel Member by the Rugby Football League.


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