SBD/March 27, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

U.K. Athletics, Track Stars In Contract Dispute; Nike, Adidas Deals Could Conflict

U.K. Athletics has been "accused of 'bulldozing' Olympic and Paralympic athletes into signing a central contract that would blunt their individual commercial appeal and place them in breach of existing endorsement deals," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Agents acting for some of the "biggest names in British track and field," including distance runner Mo Farah and heptathlete Jessica Ennis, have "expressed concerns that the 'performance athlete agreement' for 2013-17 severely limits their clients’ freedom to capitalise on their success" at the London Games. Rising stars have been "advised not to sign the contract because it constitutes a restraint of trade." A source said, "I cannot see any athlete signing it in its present form." The conflict comes "amid a change of sponsorship strategy" by U.K. Athletics, which is "pursuing a multi-brand approach after the termination" of its $75.5M (all figures U.S.), five-year sponsorship deal with Aviva. A $1.5M per year deal with McCain Foods, which "funded the grass roots, also comes to an end this year." A "key concern" about the contract is the "potential conflict for athletes with Nike kit deals," as U.K. Athletics is sponsored by adidas (LONDON TIMES, 3/27).
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