Murray loses a title but gains a company

Roger Blitz
Andy Murray poses with the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships on July 7, 2013.
Getty Images

Andy Murray has lost a title but gained a company. The Wimbledon and Olympic tennis champion, whose attempt to defend his US Open crown ended in quarter-final defeat this week, is setting up a business employing six people to further his entrepreneurial interests.

Sport has no shortage of stars who successfully turned their hand to business after their playing days were over. But rarely do sporting stars embrace commerce while still at the top.

Murray's company, called 77 because that was the number of years Britain had to wait for its first Wimbledon men's champion since Fred Perry, is meant to go beyond the run-of-the-mill business of sports talent management.

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Proving perhaps that sports stars can see beyond prize money and sponsorship for wealth creation, the company will have a chairman, a managing director and a finance director, and others responsible for legal issues, new business and sales and tournament activity.

"The new company will allow me more freedom and the chance to become more involved in my business affairs," Murray said in a statement.

The chairman is music impresario Simon Fuller, the man responsible for the Spice Girls and the talent show genre spawned by Pop Idol, who has now added the world of sport and fashion to his sphere of influence.

He has represented Murray through his XIX Entertainment talent management company, as well as David Beckham – who also has a joint venture business with Mr Fuller, called BVL – and Formula 1 motor racing driver Lewis Hamilton. Victoria Beckham's fashion business has been masterminded by Mr Fuller and has a staff of more than 100.

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As one of the top earners in sport, Murray has plenty of capital to invest in his business ventures. But what will they be?

The tennis star's business opportunities may not be as obvious as those of the fashion-driven Beckhams. He was named GQ magazine's Man of the Year – not for style or dress sense but for his Wimbledon achievement.

Aside from tennis sponsorships, his sole business activity is the purchase of a luxury hotel near his Dunblane home in Scotland. But according to Matt Gentry, managing director of the new company, Murray is "very business savvy".

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The world's tennis elite are among the fittest people in sport, and it is in the realms of sports science and fitness that Murray may develop his business instincts. His latest sponsor is a company using sports science technology to develop consumer products.

His close advisers also think they can exploit his rugged and earthy personality, which they liken to a throwback to the old-fashioned sportsman. "The future has no boundaries," Mr Fuller said.

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Murray will at least find the experience of running a small enterprise familiar. He has led a sizable entourage dubbed Team Murray around the tennis circuit that includes coach Ivan Lendl, a physio, strength and conditioning coaches and a practice partner.

According to John Dolan, who managed the affairs of former tennis champion Kim Clijsters, an operation such as Team Murray is "like a small business".