Sports Law – What next for our Olympic Medal Winners ?

Now that the Olympics are over, and our medals are brought home the question is what next?

The Olympics, without doubt, are one of the greatest publicity opportunities in a sports persons career. Offers are now likely to be plentiful from professional contracts to sponsorship deals, endorsements, publishing rights for biographys etc. for our own Olympic Medal winners.

Prime examples abroad are Lola Jones, the American track and field state who despite never having won an Olympic medal entered the games with a strong list of sponsors include Asics, Proctor & Gamble, Red Bull and Oakley. GB’s Jessica Ennis also entered the games with sponsorship deals with a number of well known brands and was even painted on the Heathrow flightpath by British Airways. Her victory will no doubt result in her potential to attract even more sponsors skyrocketing.

A handful of companies, including Coca-Cola & McDonald’s pay dearly to be official sponsors of the Games themselves. However, most companies attempt to capitalise on the magic of the Olympics with individual athletes. These sponsorships are undoubtedly cheaper but also provide an opportunity for companies to link their brand with the personality of an athlete and not just the games. Realistically though very few Olympic athletes are lucky enough to ever have corporate support. Statistically fewer than 5 % of competitors at the games have a direct sponsor. Therefore those who are fortunate enough to win a medal at the Games are in a prime position afterwards to attract large deals.

Fit is key though. For instance Michael Phelps who was known for playing music on his Ipod before a race won a deal to promote waterproof headphones after the 2008 Olympics. One of Usain Bolts main sponsors is Puma.

So how can Olympians maximise their income? Advertisers are looking for an athletes unique selling point such as the ‘MoBot’ Usain Bolt’s ‘lightning strike’ and even our own John Joe Nevins ‘Mullingar Shuffle’ and when this is matched to the right brand the endorsement can work fantastically for both the Company and the athlete.

After the games the athletes need to maximise on these deals immediately whilst their names are still in the public domain. Often circumstances can change quickly and a company can be swift to retract an offer or drop an individual if there is negative press such as Tiger Woods who lost Tag Heuer, Gillette and a number of other high profile deals when his extramarital affairs were discovered.

Looking to our own medal winners its clear Katie Taylor will have her pick of high profile sponsors, after taking home Gold. Katie already enjoyed a number of deals after winning four world and five European titles but she has clearly added to her financial pulling power after winning gold at the Games. However our other boxing medal winners John Joe Nevin, Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes will have ample offers flooding in also for sponsorships, endorsement contracts, appearance fees and commercial offers.

Furthermore in the world of boxing there will be ample offers to our boxers both male and femal of a lucrative professional contract. Anthony Joshua, who won Gold in the super-heavyweight boxing final, could make millions should he decide to turn professional and follow in the path of fellow Olympic champion Lennox Lewis who was once in his position.

The contracts surrounding these deals can at times be complex and expert advice from a specialist sports law solicitor is essential to ensure the athlete is getting the strongest possible deal.

©Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors 2012

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