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Volume 6 No. 211

Marketing and Sponsorship

National Rugby League side Cronulla officials "will try to convince the top end of town that the club isn't tainted" by the stain of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority doping investigation as it again begins the "unenviable hunt for a new major sponsor," according to Barrett & Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. It has emerged that workplace safety firm Labour Health, which "was hailed as a miracle sponsorship signing in July only four days after the sacking of Todd Carney, will not resume its prime position on the jumper in 2015." Instead, Cronulla officials "are now searching for what will be a fifth front-of-jersey major sponsor in three seasons," hoping they can finally land one worth the high A$800,000-A$1M ($744,000-$930,000) value that "they believe it is worth." Labour Health "has re-signed for next year in a reduced role," but Cronulla CEO Steve Noyce "disputes any assertion the Sharks are back at square one again." Noyce: "That's glass half empty. I'm saying it's glass half full. I think there is a great opportunity out there now with the resolution of the issues that were unresolved and in the marketplace were of concern to some people." With the "weight of the ASADA probe damaging their image the Sharks spent much of this season with a C.S.F.C signage on their jersey to avoid a cleanskin," and in a tumultuous period since '12 "have also had a merry-go-round of companies"-- Fisherman's Friend, Shark Energy Drink and One Solutions -- feature briefly as major sponsors on their strip (SMH, 8/25).

Worldwide tennis sponsorship spending is expected to hit $739M in '14, according to IEG, and "no player secures a bigger piece of the pie" than Roger Federer, according to Kurt Badenhausen of FORBES. His "loaded endorsement portfolio includes 10 brands" like Nike, Wilson, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, Gillette and Moet & Chandon. They collectively pay him more than $40M annually "to pitch their wares." The world’s 10 highest-paid tennis players made a combined $6M in prize money between June '12 and June '13, but the "big money is off the court" where this group banked nearly $200M from endorsements, exhibitions and appearance fees. The sport’s global nature "is clear looking at tennis’ best-paid stars, as they hail from 10 different countries." The top 10 "is split evenly between men and women." Rafael Nadal "ranks second" with earnings of $44.5M. Nadal's wins and top year-end ranking "kicked in bonuses from sponsors" in addition to the $14.5M in prize money he earned. Nadal’s "biggest endorsement partner is Nike where his earnings are heavily tied to his year-end rank." Other current sponsors include Babolat, Mapfre, Banc Sabadell, Richard Mille, Kia Motors, Mueller and Poker Stars. Novak Djokovic earned $33.1M, including $12.1M in prize money, and ranks No. 3 among the best-paid. Maria Sharapova "leads a group of five women among the 10 best-paid." She earned $24.4M and ranks No. 4 overall. Sharapova "has been the highest-paid female athlete for a decade since she broke through and won Wimbledon at 17 years old in 2004." Sharapova "added a deal with Avon Products this spring" (FORBES, 8/25). For the full list, click here.

Yonex has agreed to re-sign tennis player Stan Wawrinka to a deal that is the "most lucrative contract in the Japanese company’s history," according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. A source said that the agreement "covers sneakers, apparel and racket," stretches through '18 and will pay Wawrinka nearly $20M. The "value of a tennis deal typically depends on the player’s performance, at least in part." But the source said that the money in this deal "is guaranteed." Wawrinka has "played with and worn Yonex the last four years" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/25 issue).

ROGER THAT: In N.Y., Stuart Miller examined whether racket manufacturers are selling products used by professional tennis players or those endorsed by them. Wilson recently unveiled its signature Roger Federer Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph racket, but the brand said that it is "offering more than a racket with Federer's signature on it." Wilson Global Product Dir John Lyons: "We want to be clear this is his actual racket, not a 'signature racket' or 'racket of choice.'" Lyons was "referring to the many rackets sponsored by top players with vague phrases like the one put forth by the tennis company Head: 'Andy Murray’s racket of choice.'" On Head’s website, the "fine print for each player’s racket, like Murray’s or Novak Djokovic’s, says, 'Head Pro players may play with different rackets from the model shown.'” Federer said that the racket "coming to stores in October was 'the one I’m playing with.'” But amateur tennis players have "often been skeptical of such claims." Babolat last year "was sued in California by a customer, Payam Ahdoot, who asserted that the phrase 'racket of choice' meant the star used the racket in question." Babolat argued that this was “'irrationally literal' but decided to settle rather than slog through the courts." The company will "now use disclaimers stating that pro players may use a different racket from the one depicted" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).

Golfer Graeme McDowell is "set to leave Horizon Sports Management to manage his own affairs," but he insisted he is "leaving on good terms when his contract ends" on Dec. 31, according to Brian Keogh of the IRISH TIMES. McDowell joined Horizon from Chubby Chandler’s Int'l Sports Management in Dec. '07, but his business interests "have grown in recent years -- he has a restaurant, a stake in the Game Golf tracking technology and a clothing brand with Kartel -- and he now has his own personal assistant and financial advisors but no plans to move to another management company." The news will be "seen as a blow" to HSM, which lost Rory McIlroy, Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin in recent years and now manages only Shane Lowry and Ross Fisher. Sources said that McDowell has been "ruminating his decision 'for months' and that while he was unhappy with the way the McIlroy camp has gone about its business, his decision has no direct connection to the High Court battle between the world No 1 and the boutique agency set up by Conor Ridge" (IRISH TIMES, 8/25). In Dublin, Karl MacGinty wrote McDowell "played a central part in Horizon's development into a significant player in the global golf arena," but views this as the "right time to take charge of all his own affairs on and off the golf course." McDowell said, "I am at a stage in my life where it feels right to move on to the next phase of my career -- both in golf and business" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 8/25).