Sponsors Desperate To Get A Slice Of The Team GB Success Story

Specialist Sports Lawyer Explains Why Everyone Is Going For Gold


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

The stars of Team GB are ‘worth their weight in gold’ after delivering our greatest ever Olympic performance by finishing second in the medal table.

That’s the view of our expert sport lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have warned our medal winners to be prepared to be in demand on their return from Rio and to ensure that they’re ready for complex contract negotiations and in-depth discussions over image rights.

After 27 golds, 23 silvers and 17 bronzes, Britain has become the first ever nation to better its medal haul at a Games immediately following a home Olympics and sponsors are understandably queuing up to grab a slice of this stunning success story.
The two richest sportsmen in Team GB are gold medal winners Andy Murray and Justin Rose who have amassed their fortune by winning tournaments and majors at the top level of tennis and golf respectively.

The vast majority of Team GB regularly compete for tiny fractions of the millions on offer in those sports and know that golden success at the games is the best opportunity they’ll get to sign lucrative sponsorship deals.

Following the Olympics at London 2012, heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill signed a number of financially rewarding deals with Adidas and Omega and began to feature prominently in adverts for bank Santander and Vitality insurance.

Olympic and World 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah struck deals with Nike, Virgin Media, Lucozade and Bupa after his trademark ‘Mobot’ celebration became of one the most iconic moments of the games.
Thomas Barnard, a specialist sports lawyer at Irwin Mitchell expects a few life-changing offers to come in for some of Team GB’s most successful and charismatic superstars.

Expert Opinion
“Brands are already queuing up to sign the stars that helped Team GB to their greatest ever medal haul and for many it will be the first time they have been faced with contract negotiations and discussions over image rights.

“Sponsors see medal winners as worth their weight in gold with their association having a positive impact on a huge range of products and services.

“For the household names it will be business as usual. But for athletes competing in lesser known sports, the new found fame could represent a dramatic turn in fortunes.

“The reality is that many athletes never experience the riches on show in other sports such as football, golf and tennis. Although their Olympic campaigns will have been financed by Sport England and UK Sport, a large number of athletes will be unprepared for the commercial opportunities that now await them.

“The issue can often be timing, with sponsors desperate to sign these stars up immediately whilst success is still fresh in people’s mind and their faces still adorn the front and back of newspapers.

“When these offers start to come it is vital that these hugely talented sportsmen and women take time to study the contracts and get an expert view so it’s clear what is on offer and what they’ll be required to do for the money.

“Sports agents and lawyers have a role in this process, and from a legal perspective, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind. These include:

• What, exactly, is the athlete selling, and to whom?
• Should the contract be negotiated through an image rights structure?
• Does the new opportunity infringe any existing arrangement, or agreements with the athlete’s governing bodies?

“These are just a few of the many issues that will need to be negotiated now the stars of Team GB have returned from Rio."
Tom Barnard, Associate