Tennis player Andy Murray has set up a management company called 77 with XIX Entertainment Founder Simon Fuller in a partnership that "goes beyond their current deal," according to Kevin Mitchell of the GUARDIAN. The London-based company, inspired by the 77-year absence of a Wimbledon men's singles champion from the U.K., will "look after Murray and his brother Jamie's interests on and off court." Fuller, who has managed Murray for five years, becomes his "business partner and will still be in charge of the business strategy." XIX Entertainment VP/PR Matt Gentry, who previously managed Murray's media commitments, will be "managing director of the new company, working with Mahesh Bhupathi, who will be in charge of new business and sales, and Juan Martín del Potro's manager, Ugo Colombini, who will continue to be responsible for tournament-related activity." Murray's "long-term relationships" with financial manager Neil Grainger and business affairs manager Grenville Evans "remain in place." Murray said, "The new company will allow me more freedom and the chance to become more involved in my business affairs." Mitchell notes the "latest evolution" in Murray's relationship with Fuller is "expected to see him expanding his interests into sporting events, academies and other joint ventures" (GUARDIAN, 9/11). In London, Chris Jones writes Murray now "could see his earnings from sponsorship" reach $157M (all figures U.S.) before he retires. Murray "already earns" an estimated $15.7M in annual sponsorships, including an $8M deal with adidas and $3.15M from RBS, plus deals with Rado, Head and Jaguar. One of his "first aims" with 77 will be to "find another major shirt sponsor" for his left shoulder. Despite winning the '12 U.S. Open, Wimbledon and the Gold Medal at the London Games, that patch "did not attract a money-spinning deal." Meanwhile, Murray is "targeting the Asian market by linking up" with Bhupathi (London EVENING STANDARD, 9/11).
BEND IT LIKE...: In London, Paul Newman writes Murray has "taken another leaf out of David Beckham's book" by forming the 77 management company. The move "is similar to the way in which Fuller's partnership with Beckham has moved from a management set-up into a business relationship." The company also will "seek to manage other individuals" (London INDEPENDENT, 9/11). But the FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz writes Murray's business opportunities "may not be as obvious as those of the fashion-driven Beckham's." Aside from tennis sponsorships, Murray's "sole business activity is the purchase of a luxury hotel near his Dunblane home in Scotland." But Gentry said Murray is “very business savvy." Blitz writes it is in the "realms of sports science and fitness that Murray may develop his business instincts." Murray's advisors also "think they can exploit his rugged and earthy personality, which they liken to a throwback to the old-fashioned sportsman" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 9/11).