Winning Wimbledon could transform Murray's earning power
- 9 July 2013
- From the section Business
As Britain's first Wimbledon men's champion in over three quarters of a century, Andy Murray has secured his place in the history books.
Finally claiming Fred Perry's crown after 77 years has more than just historical significance, however.
As Murray whacked the ball deep into Novak Djokovic's backhand corner to secure the championship after three nail-biting match points, he secured himself a hefty £1.6m in prize money.
This marks a near 40% rise on the prize money Roger Federer claimed as Wimbledon champion just last year.
But it is his off-court earnings where the real financial potential lies, according to experts.
No one-trick pony
While Murray has made it clear that he is driven by his passion for the game, rather than the money on offer, the event he has described as the "best day of his life so far" could also turn out to be the most lucrative.
Murray already has sponsorship deals with Swiss watch brand Rado, Royal Bank of Scotland, racquet manufacturer Head and kit maker Adidas.
These are estimated to make Murray around £8m a year. This is now expected to at least double.
Nigel Currie, director of the sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, says crucially Murray's Wimbledon win, on top of last year's US open victory and his Olympic gold medal, indicates that he's no "one-trick pony".
"I'd expect his off-court earnings to head towards £15m over the next year on the basis of what he's achieved," he added.
Unlike sports such as Formula 1 and football, which have failed to make a significant impression in the key US market, tennis is also enjoyed worldwide, making it more attractive to sponsors which want to reach a global audience.
David Tyler, head of talent at sponsorship and marketing agency Phar Partnerships, says that it is this global potential which will really catapult Murray's earnings. He expects the Scot to now attract new sponsorships from fashion brands, drink firms or mobile phone companies seeking an internationally recognisable sports star.
"To win the biggest endorsement deals an athlete needs to be globally recognisable and a champion. Winning the US open, the Olympics and now becoming the first Wimbledon champion in 77 years has put him on a different stratospheric level."
Mr Tyler also expects Murray to earn in the region of £15m to £18m this year, still much lower than world number one Federer who earned a staggering $65m (£43.5m) off court last year, according to Forbes most recent annual ranking of athletes by earnings.
But as a winner of 17 grand slam titles, compared to Murray's current two, the discrepancy is justified, says Mr Tyler.
"It's probably a little unfair to make comparisons with the greatest player of all time right now. You have to play at that level for a significant amount of time to earn that kind of money. Federer consistently delivered major after major, and Murray will have to prove himself for a few more years before earning those kind of figures," he says.
However, at just 26 with an estimated four to five years of prime playing time ahead of him, many are predicting a run of wins now that he has hit his stride.
Three time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe has backed Murray to win "at least six Grand Slams".
And with Federer approaching 32 and Nadal struggling with injury, Murray has the chance to dominate tennis for the next few years, putting him in prime position to secure top sponsorship deals.
Viewing figures for Sunday's Wimbledon final show the kind of audience these kind of battles can generate, and the obvious attractiveness for potential sponsors.
Murray's win has become the highest-rated TV programme of the year so far with a peak audience of 17.3m, beating the 13.1m peak audience for the live final of ITV talent show Britain's Got Talent last month, when viewers saw Simon Cowell pelted with eggs.
"Sponsors look two to three years in advance. There are no obvious challengers coming through. At 26, Murray has three to four years ahead of him jostling it out for number one, which is very exciting from a marketing point of view and very positive for his earning power," says Mr Currie.
And as Tim Collins, managing director of Octagon UK, a global sports marketing agency, says Murray once labelled the "dour Scot" has become more personable, and therefore more attractive to sponsors, ever since his 2012 Wimbledon defeat when he broke down in tears.
He says Murray's recent documentary, where he spoke for the first time about the 1996 massacre in the Dunblane primary school which he attended, also helped to reveal more of the back story behind the once reticent tennis player.
"People find him much more endearing now. He has a great background story. He was driven by his mother from an early age which will resonate with a lot of people, and he has triumphed despite coming from Dunblane, which suffered a terrible tragedy."
Murray also has a very shrewd operator handling his sponsorship negotiations. In 2007 he signed up with Simon Fuller's management agency XIX Entertainment - the same firm behind the Spice Girls and Lewis Hamilton, and the one which has built up 'Brand Beckham', taking his deals way beyond his original football roots.
Earlier this year XIX and Murray agreed a partnership with Indian doubles player and entrepreneur Mahesh Bhupathi to develop commercial interests across Asia and the Middle East.
Taking the crown at SW19 could ultimately secure Murray's legacy as not only one of the best British tennis players ever, but also as one of the top earning British sports stars in history.