Entertainment law takes so many different forms. In many instances it includes “sports”, hence the ol adage Sports and Entertainment law. Well, today Sports and Michael Vick got a healthy dose of entertainment law.

The Associate Press is reporting that Vick

lost the first round in his financial battle with the Atlanta Falcons when an arbitrator ruled Tuesday that Vick should repay much of the bonus money he got while secretly bankrolling a gruesome dogfighting ring.

The report estimates that Vick’s loss could cost him upward to $20 million. Read the entire AP Story here.

The ruling didn’t come down from a judge, however. Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement with the team owner, any contract disputes must be brought before an arbiter for resolution before any action can proceed to a court of law. In this instance, Stephen B. Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and special master oversaw last week’s arbitration hearing in Philadelphia.

The two sides of this argument are rather interesting and Vick is getting a lot of support from the NFL player’s union. The Atlanta Falcons argued that

Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in the long-running operation, knew he was in violation of [his] contract when he signed a 10-year, $130 million deal in December 2004 and that he used proceeds from the contract to fund his illicit activities and sought the repayment of $19,970,000 in bonuses he was paid over the last three years.

The outcome in this instance is different than a case involving former Denver Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie. In that case, the arbitrator ordered the Broncos to repay $220,000 to Lelie, who reportedly had to give up about $1 million in fines, lost bonuses and a prorated portion of his signing bonus to get out of the final year of his Denver contract after a dispute over playing time.

According to the player’s union, the decision will be appealed and put before U.S. District Court Judge David Doty in Minneapolis.