17 May 2011 - Athletes contracts are never easy

It has been a remarkable month in many ways. We have been busy negotiating several contracts. Some good, some bad and some just ugly. We have negotiated conditions that will benefit our clients. We have inserted clauses that will protect image rights. We have negotiated commitments versus payment structure. We have negotiated bonus performance structures. Negotiating contracts or at least highlighting clauses of concern/conflict are part of any sports managers work load. What happens when a tough contract is put in front of you? What happens when the conditions of the contract are non-negotiable or at least you are told they are non-negotiable? What happens when you are told to sign or else? It is precisely because athletes are often inexperienced, very young and usually without resources, particularly at the earlier stages of their career, that signing without the correct advise happens on a regular basis. All we can say with certainty is that you should seek advise form people more experienced and that includes the possibility of going to a solicitor! Why?


Well Silver Hatch Sports have a lot of experience when dealing with standard contracts. However, where unusual legal issues or doubts occur to us, we will consult with lawyers or other experts as a matter of course so as to help our own understanding of the contract.


These contracts are sometimes prepared in advance by the lawyers of large organizations and at other times cobbled up rather inexpertly by a non lawyer. In either case, we will usually know whether they are standard for their purpose or otherwise and may suggest amendments or improvements from the athlete's perspective. Common issues and questions include:


  • • Does the contract reflects your true net present market value?
  • • Are the commitments going to interfere with your training schedule?
  • • What are the limitations of the contract?
  • • Are there any conflicts of interest?
  • • Is the contract in your long term interests?
  • • Is the contract unduly weighted in favour of your sponsor?
  • • Will you get the support you need?


There are many issues to consider but you can be confident that Silver Hatch Sports will help you with all contract negotiation issues.


Consider the following example: How do you consult someone who is offered a contract that involves nudity? Even if it is just 'artistic'?


Simply put, placing oneself at the risk of posing nude leave several issues to be considered.


Consider the following points below:


1) Ensure that the client is happy with this whole matter and to discover their personal concerns.

As such it is important that the agreement should properly reflect the clients concerns. Indeed, the client should consider whether they should associate any type of nudity at all. For example, Does the client have any concerns in the following areas?


2) Nudity as Pornography

The definition of pornography is illusive. However as pornos is Greek for prostitute, one might suggest it denotes images of persons depicting themselves as engaged in the sort of activities associated with prostitutes.


3)Nudity as Vulnerability

An athlete is representative of power and grace. Nudity can represent weakness and vulnerability. What image does the client want to portray? Will it conflict with the clients self image? If so, how can client protect their self image?


4) Nudity and ethics

Most people have a sense of what is right and wrong. Everybody has to address their own issues here. For instance, female thinking often includes considering the effects of actions on relationships e.g. with family, lovers, spouses, children. It is important to understand if the client has any issues here?


5) Nudity as a permanent record

One of the problems of creating permanent images is that they can be re-produced at a later date, often when the client would ideally prefer the images were not created. At this point it is essential to understand the image rights of the client and how any images can and will be used. Will images be confined to the final editorial/program? Can you have a clauses in the agreement which confine the images to the final editorial/programme and which give an undertaking not to distribute out-takes, stills, photos etc in isolation to the editorial/programme itself?


6) Nudity as a brand

Sometimes, perhaps rarely, a certain image becomes associated with a person. An athlete should consider carefully what images of themselves they allow to be created, in case they become a brand image.


7) Nudity as a privacy issue

How the programme/editorial is created might have privacy concerns for the client e.g. how many people should be milling about or how protective is the environment?

Also, it might be useful to have a sweep up provision, that subject to the agreement, the clients privacy rights should continue.




It is precisely because athletes are often inexperienced, very young and usually without resources at the earlier stages of their career, we have created a Club for athletes, to enable them get direct access, at low cost, both formally and informally, to initial advice from participating experienced lawyers about sports contracts they are presented with.. Do not hesitate to contact us....