In February 2011 I mocked the likelihood of tennis player Andy Murray ever becoming the serial slam winner his supporters hoped for and questioned if he was worth the £10m or so his advisers were trying to raise in sponsorship for him.
Now our boy is the US Open champion, as well as the Olympic gold medallist, so his value, we would assume, has gone through the roof. Back in February Murray’s deal with Highland Spring had come to an end leaving him with just the benighted Royal Bank of Scotland as a main sponsor. I’ve no idea who his current ones are but they’d better have good contracts because absolutely everybody will want a slice of Murray now.
Much of the credit surely has to go to his new coach Ivan Lendl, a famously taciturn former slam winner from the Czech Republic. Lendl’s appointment to the seemingly thankless of coaching Murray to final wins was greeted with a degree of scepticism in the UK where Lendl had tried many times and failed just as often to win the Wimbledon title. So he seemed a loser too, forgetting that he won eight slams on other surfaces.
Brand owners and their advisers sniffing a commission are now spoilt for choice with British sports stars, Paralympians as well as their more able-bodied peers. Who’s going to top the contracts list? Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah? Or maybe Ellie Simmonds (left) or David Weir?
Murray I suspect. Until athletes benefit from as many high profile TV opportunities as the top ten tennis players (four slams, Davis Cup, Masters Series et al) they will never be worth quite as much to brand owners.