It’s been a relatively quiet year in the athlete representation industry in Australia. There were no new Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated, no major agency moves and no notable lawsuits. The biggest news of the year was arguably Lance Franklin’s move to the Sydney Swans in the AFL. Liam Pickering managed to get the free agent a 9 year, $10 million contract, a figure never before seen in the game.
Looking to next year there is a little bit more on the agenda. Below is a look at what to expect in athlete representation in 2014:
AFL Collective Bargaining Agreement: What will the review bring?
As per the agreement signed in 2011, the AFL Players Association and the AFL had the right to review the 5 year deal in 2014. The AFLPA are angling for a percentage of revenue deal, similar to what is in place in many sporting leagues. The equalisation of clubs may also be discussed, and a potential luxury tax or salary cap for football departments has been mentioned.
With the sale of powerhouse agency IMG nearly the final stages, what impact will it have on the Australian office? The firm has quit representation of AFL players in recent years, but still has a strong arm in tennis and rugby. Their Models division also has a large presence in Australia. While the company will certainly go through a name change, it is highly unlikely that the day-today operations will change. The final stage of bidders are companies currently not involved in Australia, and any contraction of business wouldn’t make economic sense.
AGENTS AND AGENCIES TO WATCH
This firm is less than a year old, with Lucy Mills leaving Connors Sports Management to set up her own agency. The Lighthaus already boasts a stellar list of clients including Adam Goodes, Jimmy Bartel and media personality Rebecca Judd. Look for this company to move further into celebrity management.
This Melbourne based sports management company has seen a rise in clients over the past 12 months, with things looking like they won’t slow down. The company recently signed Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, who is looking like hitting the $1 million club in his next contract. DSEG’s clients division keeps making strides without representing players in any of the major codes. Look for this agency to maintain a strong hold on racing media talent and possibly make a bigger splash in cricket.
Ricky Nixon: What will he do?
After a spell on the sidelines Ricky can apply to be an AFL accredited agent again next year. But the big question remains, will he? He has remained coy on what his next project will be, though a consultant role to players has been raised in the past.
THE FREE AGENTS
AFL: Will Carlton lose two of their stars?
Next years’ list of potential free agents in AFL will have many clubs salivating. Heading the list is David Mundy, who is expected to look for a deal worth $700,000 a season. This figure will rise should a bidding war begin. At 28, this will most likely be his last big payday. With Barlow, Fyfe and Sandilands out of contract the Fremantle Dockers may have a hard time squeezing all their talent in the cap. Two of Carlton’s major players in Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy are also on the market. Both will look for deals worth over $600,000 a year. Hawthorn and Collingwood have a lot of cap room to play with and could make a play for a big star.
NRL: Will Sonny Bill stay on?
Sonny Bill Williams has already committed to another season with the Sydney Roosters, but should he have a season like his last he will almost certainly consider offers from Rugby Union. Melbourne Storm Captain Cameron Smith has been touted for a move to the Brisbane Broncos, with offers of $3 million over 3 years being tempted to lure the Queenslander to his home state.
James O’Connor: Will he return?
James O’Connor packed his bags for England this year, signing for the London Irish. He had a tumultuous 2013 and subsequently has been stood down from Wallabies duties. The 23 year-old play-maker has a lot of raw talent, will he return to Super 15 or pursue the riches of Europe?
ATHLETES SET FOR A MASSIVE 2014
This 18 year-old Melbournian has a difficult choice to make. Already predicted to go 5th in the NBA Draft, he is currently considering whether to make the leap to the big time early in favor of missing playing in college. He is yet to sign an agent, as this would void his college eligibility. His signature will be hotly contested, as a top 5 pick can make over $20 million in their first contract.
Australia’s greatest ever snowboarder is set to excel in Sochi at the Winter Olympics this year. The defending champion is on track for another gold medal, which can allow her to gain further marketability in her sport. Torah is Australia’s best hope for a gold.
While Mitchell Johnson is having a fantastic 2013, look for him to succeed off the pitch next year. The fast bowler will certainly to garner a string of endorsements, not to mention a lucrative IPL contract.
Reports have suggested that David Warner could stand to make $50 million over the next 10
years. With what will certainly be a large increase in his Cricket Australia contract, he will look for even more riches in the IPL.
While the industry in Australia is relatively small compared to other markets, there is always something happening. The above mentioned issues and agencies are only the tip of the iceberg of what is exciting times for athlete representation. Stay tuned to this blog and my Twitter for what is sure to be an eventful year