Andy Murray can still be sponsorship winner

Andy Murray in the Australian Open final
Image caption Andy Murray has lost his second Australian Open final

The wait goes on for a British man to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament for the first time in 75 years.

And although Andy Murray may be in the doldrums following Sunday's Australian Open final loss to Novak Djokovic, there are some financial compensations.

He has earned himself a cool £700,000 for finishing as runner-up in the tournament.

And his appearance in yet another Grand Slam final, coupled with the fact that two of his major sponsorship deals have recently ended, means there are further sums to be made from signing lucrative partnership deals.

"Even though the big prize still eludes him, it is another stepping stone for him," says sports marketing expert Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport.

"There is still a belief he can win a Grand Slam, and he is a small step away from becoming one of the highest-paid sportsmen this country has ever produced.

"It is the right sport, it is an individual sport, like golf or Formula 1, and it has a global reach, including in the US where football has not really become mainstream."

'Real money'

Mr Currie said that after Li Na from China reached the women's final in Australia this year, despite the fact that she lost to Belgium's Kim Clijsters, the Chinese market would also be opening further to tennis.

"If Murray can become a Grand Slam champion and then stay at the top for three or four years, such as a Sampras, Federer or Schumacher, then that is where the real money is."

In previous seasons, Murray has been sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, which has supported him since he was 14, and by Highland Spring bottled water since 2007.

That latter deal involved the 23-year-old Scot working to encourage more youngsters to get more involved in tennis.

Together, the deals - which saw him sport small 4-in (10-cm) square patches on the shoulders of his playing shirt - brought him in millions of pounds.

'Sponsorship opportunities'

However, for the past few weeks, Murray has been playing with "clean" kit, without any sponsor logos or patches on the sleeves.

Image caption Andy Murray has been playing in Australia without any shoulder patch logos

That is because both deals are up for renewal, and whereas RBS may sign on again in some role, the position of Highland Spring continuing as a sponsor is less secure.

It is understood he will still retain some relationship with RBS.

"But what we are seeing is his move away from being solely a Scottish, or British, sportsman, to a global sports personality, with the opportunity for global promotional campaigns around him," says Mr Currie.

Significantly, Murray's personal website shows his three sponsors as being clothing supplier Adidas, racket maker Head and RBS, without any mention of Highland Spring.

That same website offers a link to "Sponsorship Opportunities" for those seeking more information about backing the player.

Meanwhile, Murray's management company is talking to other companies about possibly sponsoring the world number five.


Murray's management agent is music mogul Simon Fuller, who has famously also represented David Beckham.

His agent has long been hoping to catapult Murray forward into the ranks of global brands.

And, despite losing in Australia, he could also be about to see the value of those little shoulder patches rocket in value, as he becomes a walking billboard up for sale to the highest bidder.

"I think there will be a couple of pretty big major deals signed soon, such as with an international car firm, the type of deals we already see with Nadal and Federer."

In fact, Murray has already made one major sponsorship change in his career.

In 2009, he stopped wearing the iconic Fred Perry tennis wear for a reported £3m-a-year sponsorship deal with German sports giant Adidas.

Image caption As he was in 2007; with RBS shoulder patch and wearing Fred Perry clothing

And that deal with Adidas, which, unlike other sports kit makers, allows him to have a couple of sleeve patches, could be about to get more lucrative in the wake of his victory.

"The Adidas deal showed Murray's journey on the route from local to global," he adds.

"Fred Perry just did not have the same presence on the global stage as Adidas."

'Media interest'

But what about the image of Murray which some newspapers like to promote, painting him as surly or sulky?

Image caption Murray could now join the ranks of global sports icons such as David Beckham

Would that perceived image be an obstacle to securing broad-appeal deals of the type enjoyed by David Beckham?

"Becks was not always the finished marketing article that we see now," observes Mr Currie.

"He was 23, the same age as Andy Murray is now, when he got sent off against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, and was not very popular then."

And Mr Currie believes that if the Scottish tennis star can grab one of the Grand Slam titles, then that will give him a unique selling point.

"The big attraction of winning a Grand Slam after such a long time for Britain would give him something totally unique," observes Mr Currie, whose firm also works on sports contracts with major brands such as Barclays, Vodafone and Panasonic.

"That would be an attractive story for the media, which would make it therefore of terrific interest to potential sponsors. If and when he does achieve this, then the better it will be for him and sponsors."


Meanwhile, Tim Crow, chief executive of sponsorship consultancy Synergy, who represent RBS - who have worked extensively with Murray - says the player is an "innovator" when it comes to endorsements.

"He is carving out his own niche and a big part of that is only working with brand partners who can help him inspire a new generation of kids to choose tennis," he says.

"In years to come that's what he'll be remembered for. He's going to change the rules for endorsements."

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