Friday, February 8, 2013

Nadal Breaks from IMG, Sets Up Own Shop

Star athletes changing representation is not typically earth-shattering news as it is a fairly typical occurrence. However, when two of the biggest names in a sport break away to set up their own shops, it starts to peak some interest.

Bloomberg reported that tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain has ended his relationship with IMG, one of the heavyweight agencies in tennis. The interesting angle on this is that Nadal is not switching to another agency, but rather is stricking out on his own. The former world #1 feels he is at a point in his career where he would have the deal flow come to him and therefore does not need the agency to bring deals to him. For Nadal, this will produce a savings of appoximately $2.8 million based on his endorsement level.

Nadal follows another former #1, Roger Federer, who did the same last year. Now two of the top names in men's tennis are self managed. Is this a new trend? Hardly, while Federer and Nadal have a commanding presence at the later stages of their careers, most tennis stars are not in a position to cut out their agencies entirely without sacrificing earning potential.

While it cannot yet be called a trend, the notion of top athletes cutting out agents is an interesting proposition - particularly in team sports where 'closed" markets exist. Over the years, there have been numerous stars that have chosen to go this route - particularly later in their careers or on veteran contracts.

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