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Tiran Gunawardena

Senior Associate

About Me

I am an experienced contentious/regulatory sports lawyer, working as a Senior Associate in our Media, Entertainment & Sports Group in London. I act primarily for national and international sports governing bodies, federations and sporting organisations, advising them on a wide variety of contentious and regulatory issues.

Having trained and qualified as a lawyer (and Chartered Accountant) in Australia, I began my sports law career in 2014 with a highly respected sports law firm in the UK, where I spent almost 8 years prior to joining Bird & Bird in 2022.

While primarily acting for sports governing bodies and federations, I have acted for numerous athletes, clubs, agents and directors in disputes heard before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), FIFA Football Tribunal, UEFA Disciplinary Committee, FA Regulatory Commissions, and other tribunals. I have also served as an ad-hoc clerk on numerous matters before the CAS, including in cases involving UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, anti-doping and the retrospective disqualification of Olympic Games' results due to failed doping tests. As a result, I have significant experience in international sports regulatory / arbitration matters, and specifically in proceedings before the CAS.

I have advised clients on matters in tennis, motorsport, cricket, rugby, golf, sailing, boxing, and cycling. However, I specialise in football having advised football governing bodies, players, clubs, agents and players' unions worldwide on a variety of legal issues. I have advised parties in dozens of international and domestic football transfers, and I am the co-author of a chapter (about the rules in England) in the sports law practitioners' textbook, 'Transfers of Football Players: A practical approach to implementing FIFA rules' (International Sports Law and Policy Bulletin 1/2020).

I am also experienced in betting / match fixing matters, having acted for both individuals defending such charges, and sports governing bodies prosecuting such matters. I have also acted on ethics / corruption related matters involving high profile directors of sports world governing bodies, having defended complaints filed before an Ethics Commission and acted as an ad-hoc clerk in a 'FIFA-Gate' case before the CAS.

Aside from acting as legal counsel for parties, I also have experience acting as an arbitrator in sports disputes. I am a member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Arbitral Board and Disciplinary Commission and have been a member of the England Boxing Disciplinary Panel since 2017.

I am dual qualified as a solicitor in England & Wales and New South Wales (Australia), and am also a Chartered Accountant, which allows me to provide a unique insight to clients on financial matters in sport (an area I have developed a particular expertise in). I also hold a Master of International Sports Law (LLM) from ISDE (Madrid, Spain). I am regularly recognised by Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment as a 'Global Thought Leader' in sports law. Prior to working in sports law, I spent almost 4 years working in the Corporate Tax / M&A team at PwC (Sydney, Australia).
  • Acting for the Premier League in relation to confidential disciplinary matters.
  • Acting for Kieran Trippier (England international and Newcastle United FC footballer), in defending betting related charges before a FA Regulatory Commission.
  • Acting for the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) in prosecuting individuals involved in doping, and in match fixing in tennis.
  • Advising the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) on financial regulations in Formula One, and various other regulatory and governance related matters.
  • Defending Kim Andersen (former President of World Sailing) in numerous complaints heard before the World Sailing Ethics Commission.
  • Acting as an ad-hoc clerk in numerous cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, including in matters relating to UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, breach of contract disputes in football, anti-doping, a 'FIFA-Gate' ethics/corruption case, and a disciplinary case involving the retrospective disqualification of Olympic Games results due to a failed doping test.


  • Macquarie University (Australia), Bachelor of Commerce (Major in Accounting) and Bachelor of Laws (2010)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants (Australia), Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting (2013)
  • Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (2013)
  • ISDE (Madrid, Spain), Masters in International Sports Law (2014)


  • 2013 - Admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales (Australia)
  • 2013 - Admitted as a Chartered Accountant in Australia
  • 2023 - Admitted as a solicitor in England & Wales
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Legal 500 described Tiran as 'super smart; like an encyclopedia of sports law; fully invested in getting the best outcome for his clients', and 'brilliant - extremely hardworking; great with clients; excellent industry knowledge; strategic, and fantastic at managing complex, high profile cases'.

Legal 500 UK 2021

Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment 2022 recognised Tiran as a 'Global Thought Leader' in sports law

Who's Who Legal: Sports & Entertainment 2022

Tiran received feedback from Legal 500 regarding a matter ongoing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in which he was described as 'excellent' as 'he had mastered the detail in a very impressive way and gave confident clear advice'.

Legal 500 UK 2021

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