There’s no I in team, but there is a ME

Published 13 October 2009

By Gary Rice, Beauchamps Solicitors

UK Sport has agreed to enter a side letter arrangement with British athletes after some British athletes expressed disquiet at the Team 2012 sponsorship arrangements. Team 2012 is an initiative designed to get funding for British athletes for the 2012 Olympics Games.

It is a joint initiative between UK Sport, the 2012 Organising Committee, the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association. The disquiet arises in the context of what the athletes say is a potential conflict between athletes’ individual sponsors and the Team 2012 sponsors. Athletes in receipt of National Lottery grants were in danger of losing the grant if they did not Register to the deal. Lawyers for the athletes had questioned whether the Team 2012 contract endangers athletes’ individual endorsement deals, but UK Sport has now clarified any confusion – sponsors will not be offered exclusive rights to individual athletes, but will get association with groups of athletes from different sports.

There is a £50 million shortfall in funding for the UK team for the 2012 Games and so it is easy to see why big name athletes who refuse to Register for the 2012 deal in the hope of securing lucrative individual deals will have their public funding withdrawn. Team 2012 will require athletes to promote companies such as Adidas, EDF Energy and Samsung. Nike and Siemens are examples of the sponsors to which some of the athletes have obligations. Concerns were also expressed that the deal would limit the athletes’ potential to enter future endorsement deals.

A distinction needs to be drawn between individual endorsement and team sponsorship and endorsement. Athletics is generally an individual sport, but national teams and squads are selected for all major games. In team sports, it is obviously commonplace that individual players may sometimes have sponsorships which conflict with team sponsorships. National teams, clubs and individual players may all have different sponsors and so sponsorship contracts and the rules of the national governing bodies need to be carefully crafted to carve out various obligations and to delineate the various sponsorships clearly. It all comes down to good drafting. In other words get good lawyers.

Article obtained from www.beauchamps.ie, the website of Beauchamps Solicitors. Article reproduced with their kind permission.

For more information, contact Gary Rice
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