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Why has the Rio Olympics struck a chord…?

My Choix colleagues would be the first to agree with me that I’m not the sporty type!

Helen StrawIt’s a little known fact that when I was younger I was a gymnast and competed at regional level (and came away with a silver medal – once!) I like swimming and am quite good at it, but I don’t do it regularly. So, why have I got so caught up in the Rio Olympics?

My family and HR are my first loves and I can see so much correlation with the Olympics and both of those.

First of all my family – we have a 6 year old son who plays football, tennis and swims. He also plays a wide variety of sport at school, participates in many sporting extra-curricular activities and has recently run a 5.2k Race for Life. He was mesmerised by the Olympics, our enthusiasm swept him up into a frenzy and he loved watching many different events, he especially loved the diving. He then declared he is going to be an Olympic swimmer – he has a mean back stroke. One of our very good friends completed in the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympics and won various Gold and Silver medals in athletics – our son got to try some of those on over the weekend – cue more ohhing and ahhing and declarations of his Olympic dream.

Secondly – HR, well, how many similarities can we draw between Team GB’s fantastic achievements and how we all go about our daily working lives. We all know that everyone in Team GB will have worked incredibly hard, we probably can’t comprehend how hard, to achieve what they have done. The sacrifices they will have made, the early starts, the relentless training regimes, the right nutrition, not seeing much of their family and friends. That is without question.

How did Team GB do all that and keep going? The desire to achieve the targets they had set themselves? The feeling they knew they would have of a great personal sense of pride and achievement of a job well done? Knowing that they trained and prepared so hard for something that they knew they could achieve if all went well on the day.

Don’t forget the coaching, guidance and mentoring they will have all received. Encouragement goes a long way to helping us achieve our goals. We can also never underestimate how working together with colleagues can sometimes make a project work better.

How many similarities can you see with Team GB’s success and either yourself as an individual or as a Manager of a team or Director of a business? I always say to clients that effective people management isn’t rocket science. Take a leaf out of Team GB’s amazing success story and see what principles you can either apply yourself or within your business.

If you need help with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to one of the Choix Team.

Helen Straw, Director of The Personnel Partnership

#OneTeamOneChoix

T: 0330 321 1460

info@onechoix.com

@OneChoix

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Mobile Phone Fraud – Vulnerability in your Pocket

The mobile phone has now become an integral part of our lives. 

Photo of Sarah BarkerSince the late 1990s mobile phones have become increasingly popular and today, the overwhelming majority of people have a mobile phone. With the introduction of the smartphone – the devices are now even more valuable as they contain such a wealth of personal data. Fraudsters will often target mobile phones as a means of obtaining money, personal information and passcodes.

In the recent Fraud Survey conducted by THIRTEEN, there were many respondents who reported being a victim of mobile phone contract fraud. Most often, the first they knew about it was when paperwork arrived at the house informing them of their new contract. In some cases, the first notification was seeing the deduction on their bank statement. Fortunately, in most cases reported, the victims were able to cancel any fraudulent contract taken out and obtain refunds – BUT, and perhaps more worryingly, they were not able to discover how the fraudsters obtained their details in the first place.

A recent study conducted by an independent UK investigation firm involved contacting the major mobile phone firms and trying to obtain enough details from them in order to ‘port’ the phone number to a different provider. They posed as an account holder in order to expose weaknesses in the system. Most mobile phone providers did not give the necessary security information, but they did override some security steps due to the convincing nature of the caller. Enough information was gleaned in some instances to enable fraud to be carried out.

Contactless payments, which involve using the mobile phone as a means of payment for smaller amounts, were considered very risky by the general public when first introduced – surprisingly however the Fraud Survey did not show this area to be of concern to respondents.

Maintaining strong passwords and keeping a very close eye on any bank accounts linked to mobile phones remain the most important methods of security surrounding mobile phones.

Further information about the Fraud Survey 2016 will be available soon and more details are available on the website www.thirteenresearch.co.uk about other research projects and services.

For more advice on issues surrounding fraud protection and training, contact the #Choix Team.

Sarah Barker

Legal Investigation, Research and Training Consultant

#OneTeamOneChoix

T: 0330 321 1460

info@onechoix.com

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www.thirteenresearch.co.uk

If it ain’t broke, should British football Brexit?

jim_pearson

The right of citizens of European Union (“EU”) member states to move freely about Europe for employment purposes is one of the four fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the EU and in the world of football, is at the heart of the infamous Bosman ruling. With over 150 players from the EU in the Premier League alone, the question is posed of what effect a vote to leave the EU would have on English football?

Given that European footballers are afforded free movement, the FA has imposed tight restrictions on work permits to non-EU footballers in an attempt to promote home grown players. A new immigration application process was introduced by the FA in May 2015 which provides two alternate routes for non-EU players.

Automatic Governing Body Endorsement To be eligible for automatic Governing Body Endorsement, a non-EU player must have participated in a minimum percentage of senior competitive international matches in the two years preceding the date of his application. The required percentages are determined by that county’s FIFA world rankings, with the highest ranking countries having the lowest corresponding percentage and vice versa:

Fifa Ranking 1-10: 30% and above (e.g Brazil)

Fifa Ranking 11-20: 45% and above (e.g. Uruguay)

Fifa Ranking 21-30: 60% and above (e.g. USA)

Fifa Ranking 31-50: 75% and above (e.g. Ivory Coast)

If these automatic criteria are not met, the player can lodge an appeal to the Exceptions Panel (the “Panel”).

Exceptions Panel

The appeals process is a points based system under which the Panel will award points depending on the circumstances of the transfer. This new system is harder to satisfy than the previous test, with research suggesting that 33% of the players who gained entry under the old system would not have been granted a work visa under the new system.

One of the many uncertainties the UK would face in the event of a vote to leave is whether the current system to obtain a work visa will be imposed on EU players. A recent study has found that around two thirds of EU players in the Premier League would not meet the criteria as it currently stands. There are fears this would result in an inability to attract foreign players and that Britain would lose ground in international sponsorship and broadcasting rights.

The ‘out’ Campaign

Those supporting the ‘out’ campaign argue that leaving the EU will afford the UK the opportunity to treat footballers from all countries equally which will broaden the pool of exceptional talent. With the table set out above it is clear that a highly talented non EU player from a country lowly ranked by FIFA would be preferable to an average player who originates from an EU member state.

It was revealed that only 73 English players took to the field out of a total of 220 on the opening weekend of the current 2015/16 Premier League season. This highlights the fact that the interests of the FA to nurture home-grown talent and the Premier League to develop an international product broadcast across the globe are far from identical.

Brexit could be the platform to allow ‘home-grown’ youth players to finally prove their worth if fresh policy determined that only the highest calibre footballers (whether EU or non EU) were allowed to play in the UK. Ideally for British players, managers would have fewer ‘cheap imports’ to choose from when selecting their squads.

Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the UK if there is a vote to leave, it is clear that the future of English football would be heavily affected by such a decision 23 June 2016.

If you need any advice on any Sports Law related matters please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team.

Jim Pearson – Sports Consultant

#OneTeamOneChoix

0845-0348984

info@onechoix.com

 

Galling season for Van Gaal; Employment rights for Football’s top Managers

John Hendrie

After being eliminated from both the Champions League and the Europa League, plus their recent failure to beat West Ham, Manchester United are on the cusp of failing to qualify for the Champions League after United’s destiny was taken out of their own hands. Louis van Gaal could yet face the humiliation of missing out on European football next season altogether. Calls for the United boss to be sacked are increasing. Rumours of a “Mourinho Manchester” are flooding the back pages; piling the pressure on the Dutchman. So what happens when a football manager is dismissed? Like employees in England and Wales, football managers’ sign contracts of employment and when they are dismissed prematurely they will demand compensation.

Options available

Were Van Gaal to be sacked after 19 May 2016, he could bring a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal as he will meet the two years qualifying service criteria. However it is highly unlikely Van Gaal will lodge in the Employment Tribunal as the maximum statutory award is £78,962 for unfair dismissal and £25,000 for a breach of contract claim.

Hardly fit for purpose when his contract is worth £7.3million.

A breach of contract claim can be brought in civil proceedings where there is no limit on damages. However there are high costs that come with civil proceedings and adverse publicity clubs and managers will be keen to avoid.

The Premier Leagues Managers Arbitration Tribunal (“MAT”) is favoured by Premier League Mangers. The tribunal, made up of barristers who are experts in sports employment law with a good understanding of the football industry, was chosen by managers such as Alan Curbishley, Kevin Keegan and Martin O’Neill who all successfully settled their disputes with their respective clubs.

Protection

The best protection a manager can give himself is a well drafted contract of employment. Henning Berg, manager of Blackburn Rovers for 57 days successfully brought an action for breach of contract for £2.25million when the club refused to honour his contract. Berg’s contract contained clauses that ensured he would be entitled to a sum equal to his gross basic salary for the unexpired balance. Berg’s use of the High Court served his purpose, but the adverse publicity it attracted will ensure other football clubs do not repeat the same mistakes made at Blackburn.

Settlement behind closed doors is the favoured approach of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Chelsea’s traditional approach has been to offer lucrative settlement packages to dismissed managers and since 2003 Abramovich has shelled out compensation in excess of £90million. Chelsea’s latest casualty Jose Mourinho reportedly received a severance package worth around £12million. Nothing to be sniffed at, and certainly more fit for purpose than £78,962.

Solution

Gary Neville has advocated that a ‘Manager Transfer Window’ would provide managers with much greater job security. It would mirror what is in place for players and ensure that when managers are appointed at the start of a season, they will at the very least be able to remain in charge from 1 September until 1 January and should they survive the January transfer window then they would remain in their post until 1 July of that same season. Neville would certainly have benefitted from this policy at Valencia, where he was sacked after just four months in charge.

If you need any advice on any Sports Law related matters please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team.

John Hendrie – Sports Consultant

 

#OneTeamOneChoix

0845-0348984

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No Win: The Reality of Player and Coach Pressures on Tour

Tennis Coach Adam LownsbroughThe recent announcement of Andy Murray’s split from coach Amelie Mauresmo after two years stating that dedicating enough time along with the travel has been a challenge for Amelie has brought into focus one of the major commitments that affect both the players and coaches on the World Tour.

The relationship between a professional tennis player and his or her coach is definitely a unique one. While in team sports like football, rugby or cricket, the coach is employed by an organization that functions pretty much like a company, tennis coaches are hired directly by the players. This creates a sort of ironic situation, in which the coach, who supposedly is the boss and should have a commanding position, is in fact the employee in the relationship. At the end of the month, he or she picks up the pay from the player, and not from an organization or a company.

A team sports coach can get away with not being liked by every player and the players have to follow the coaches’ directions as they are employed by their organizations. Tennis players, on the other hand, can fire their coaches at any time, if something is not going according to their own expectations. WTA sources have indicated that the ‘average’ life of a player and coach working together on the Tour is three months!

This unique type of athlete and coach relationship requires a lot of work from both parties. It is almost like a marriage, as they spend a lot of time on the courts together, travel together (moving endlessly from place to place every week), eat together, and in most cases live in close proximity for much of the year. In some cases, particularly in the women’s game that can include parents! Consequently, stress and pressure is inevitable unless player and coach are aware of that and are willing to make an effort towards preserving the relationship on good terms.

To outsiders, the life of a full-time tennis coach seems glamorous, even glorious. Tennis insiders know the truth: It might well be the worst job in sports. At the very least, it’s not the high-paying, low-output job it looks like on television. To casual tennis fans, coaches seem to do little more than watch matches from the stands. But away from the spotlight, there’s work to do. A lot of work, much of it menial.

Someone has to book a practice court. Someone has to get rackets restrung. Someone has to push players in the gym and go on the court for as much as five hours a day, often in the sun.  Someone has to count calories and plan proper meals. Its 24/7 with match scheduling that can often mean late night finishes and not returning to the hotel until early hours of the morning.

And then there’s the whining, griping, racket-smashing and lamenting of players who fail all on their own, without any teammates to ease the pressure or pain. Coaches bear the brunt of their anger and petulance. They do all this while being away from family and friends for 40 weeks a year, or more, between tournaments and practice. Mats Wilander, who once coached Marat Safin, the volatile Russian and all-time coaching headache, had to be reachable at all times – ‘Hey, yo, get over here, I need rackets, I need this, I need that, I need to hit.’”

Often players will look to blame their coach for their own shortcomings, rather than face up to themselves and ‘look in the mirror’. A case in point where a leading player on the women’s tour blamed her coach for losing a match against a much lower ranked player from being 6/1, 3/1 up in the match! There’s no job security for tennis coaches. They may have a contract, but when a player wants to end a relationship, it ends. Immediately.

Some players prefer to have specialist coaches for specific parts of the season, like Roger Federer did with Jose Higueras for the 2008’s clay court season. There has been love and hate relationships like the one in which Tommy Haas fired and hired back David “Red” Aim so many times. There are relationships that don’t last too long and there are relationships that are career long, like Rafa Nadal with Toni Nadal, James Blake with Brian Barker, Gustavo Kuerten with Larri Passos, and Justine Henin with Carlos Rodriguez. There have been extreme cases of coaches getting fired on the court by the player, during a match!

Andre Agassi made a very interesting point in his foreword for Brad Gilbert’s book “Winning Ugly”, where he said that a good coach is the one who is able to take his player all the way to the level in which he is not needed any more. This is absolutely true!

Whether some players agree or not, the coach’s role on a tennis player’s development is of tremendous importance. A good recent example of that is Johanna Konta’s improvement under the guidance of Esteban Carril and Jose-Manuel Garcia The 24-year-old has suffered with nerves in the past but has also benefited from the assistance of Juan Coto, a mental coach. Coto, a Spaniard based in London, works with both tennis players and high-flying business people in the City and they have turned her into a better player by making her work out the points with more patience and strategy. The results were self-evident which have seen her break into the game’s top 30, less than twelve months after she began last summer’s grass-court season as the world No 147. All of this has created a great expectation about her performance as British No.1 at Wimbledon.

Usually it is hard for people who are not really into tennis to notice the coach’s finger on a player’s game, and only specialized media approach this issue, but its existence is a true fact and can’t be denied.

Coaches weren’t always so dependent on the whims of a single player. When Bob Brett, the famed coach of Goran Ivanisevic, Boris Becker and Marin Cilic, started coaching in 1979, he traveled with three or four players. Brett respects the desires of current players and admires the quality of care a player can receive from an entourage of coaches, trainers and masseuses.

Yet he sees benefits in the old method.

“For experience and overall development, it’s much better to have two or three players,” he said. “They feed off each other.” Despite all the burdens of coaching, those who do it are addicted to the trade.

Tennis is an individual sport, and the uniqueness of coaching is only one more ingredient that makes it such a great sport.

To know more about the reality and practicalities of life on the professional tennis tour, speak to the Choix Sports Consultants.

Adam Lownsbrough – Sports Consultant 

Choix

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0845-0348984

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Are Privacy Injunctions a Dead Law Walking?

 

3102d355-cc51-4c70-886e-9975fe9e4309Following the Court of Appeal ruling that a mystery celebrity who had an extra-marital threesome should be named, we digest the issues and arguments surrounding celebrity super-injunctions, and explain why trying to gag the press in the age of social media is a fool’s game.

Such is the power of social networking sites, there is nowhere to hide and no point in a super injunction if Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere tear the fragile privacy law?

The man in question, who can only be referred to as PJS, is married to another celebrity, identified as YMA. The couple, who have young children, sought an injunction to stop the Sun on Sunday from publishing the story.

Lawyers for the tabloid argued that the man has been named so widely that the injunction is effectively pointless. The Sun estimates that “two billion people worldwide” have access to the identities on the internet and in various publications.

The Court of Appeal initially agreed that PJS and YMA’s right to privacy outweighed the tabloid’s right to freedom of expression. However, their names have been revealed in the US, Canada, Sweden, Scotland and on various sites across the internet. Google refused to censor search results that identify the celebrity.

Ever since Ryan Giggs in 2012 famously decided to slap a gagging order on the world’s press, preventing them from blowing the whistle on his adulterous affair this summer, the clock has been ticking on the bomb labelled super injunction.

The fact it went off so spectacularly in the face of Giggs is a lesson to every wayward celebrity or organisation to think twice before throwing their hat in the ring and slapping a gagging order on the world’s media. Many believe, including people in the legal profession, super injunctions will soon not be worth the paper they are written on thanks to social media.

Where’s the point in a super injunction if Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere tear the fragile privacy law to tatters?

The couple involved in the threesome have also expressed frustration about the situation. One of them told The Sun: “This is getting more and more crazy. When does this injunction become pointless?… It’s humiliating that people in America, where the celeb was first named, have more freedom than us but now our neighbours in Scotland and Ireland have more rights, which is stupid.”

Such is the power of social networking sites, there is nowhere to hide now and the case of PJS and YMA shows that imposing such a news blackout can do more harm than good.

Lawyers around the country are familiar with the day-to-day tools by which a client can obtain an injunction – a court order requiring that his opponent either do something specific or very frequently not do it.

If an injunction is granted, it is usually fine for the media to report the existence of it. The difference with super-injunctions, and the reason why they have caused such a furore, is that as well as being an ordinary interim injunction to restrict an act, part of the Order is a restriction on the news media from reporting the very existence of the proceedings or the fact that an injunction has been granted.

A successful super injunction ensures a news blackout, until or unless the claimant declares it or a brave and/or anonymous soul puts themselves in contempt of court and breaches the order, by tweeting or blogging about it. Once something is in the hands of the electronic media, it is very hard to put a lid on it, whether the story being broadcast is true or false.

In 2011 Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear presenter revealed that he had lifted an injunction banning the publication of details about his alleged affair with his ex-wife after the claims were outed online Clarkson said the gagging order became “pointless” when his name was linked with the allegations on websites including Twitter. “If you take an injunction out it isn’t an injunction because Twitter and Facebook mean that everybody knows anyway,” he said. “They are incredibly expensive to maintain and there’s an assumption of guilt about which you can do nothing because I’m as bound by it as everybody else.”

It can be hard to understand why a celebrity fling is so important that the public interest (and not merely tabloid curiosity) overrides an individual’s entitlement to privacy, but where that individual trades on an image promoting family values it may well be appropriate for the truth to be known and discussed. It is for this reason that there is increasing unease in the media and in Parliament about the growing trend for rich celebrities or companies to exploit the super-injunction, for fear that important scandals are being suppressed. But super-injunctions are often counterproductive.

It may be that the Trafigura affair would have gone largely unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the super injunction. In that case, social media sites spread the word that the Guardian and Parliament were unable to discuss the incident – and it soon became a word-of mouth scandal.

Privacy practices could have a serious shortage of new clients after the PJS and YMA case and the resulting widespread revealing of names and the claims in unregulated conversation across the globe.

Woefully misjudging the power of the phrase ‘common knowledge’, as well as the power of web gossip and keyboards, as in the case of Giggs, the lawyers of PJS and YMA have inadvertently turned the indiscretion into a front page story that has overshadowed a whole range of important stories. As privacy cases go, this this has to go down as something of a failure!

It could be argued that super-injunctions are not worth the paper they’re printed on, and that the High Court is dangerously out of touch with the rest of the world, particularly the huge section of it that ‘tweet’. An absurd situation has arisen where PJS and YMA had been named and shamed, repeatedly, throughout the world, first on Twitter and the internet, then in newspapers, and yet the High Court, only reluctantly allowed the lifting of the naming of the celebrity (but then two more days to allow the celebrity to mount a challenge in the supreme court!) – thus being in danger of making the law “look like an ass.”

Unfortunately, super injunctions are becoming the most effective form of promotion since the dawn of advertising. Keeping a story out of the traditional media no longer provides any kind of lasting protection for the publicity-shy public figure and rather than protecting themselves they are creating the reverse effect and providing the most effective form of promotion since the dawn of advertising.

Whilst there is, of course a place for legal action in matters of privacy but the PJS and YMA case proves the super injunction is not the answer. Twenty years ago, this might have worked but in the social networking generation there is nowhere to hide and feel sure this particular celebrity would have attracted considerably less attention, and at substantially less financial cost, if he’d announced it in a full page newspaper advertisement!

Looking back at the John Terry story a few years ago, it appeared after the revelations about his private life and after his super injunction failed, that such an approach can make things far worse for the subject in question. It is often the case that if you declare war on the press, in the end you will nearly always lose. It is much better to work with them and at least have a chance to shape the story, and to have your version of events heard. For a time afterwards, the newspapers seemed to target him, perhaps because they were gagged. It just builds up a torrent of anger, which when unleashed is much worse than letting the story come out. It’s like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

In defence of celebrities, the rich and famous there are those who are targeted by certain sections of the public in order to extract money, in which case an injunction is often the only means of protection. However, the public perception is now somewhat cynical and there is an assumption that the person has something to hide.

In such circumstances a course of action may well be to seek an injunction, but would it be the right thing to do? This is the dilemma that the person and their lawyers now face given the notoriety that injunctions cause. Over the years, David Beckham has continually had to deal with allegations and claims regarding his private life. In 2010 there were reports that he had an affair with a Beverly Hills jewellery designer, but he wasn’t fazed by the claim. As John Hendrie, Sports Consultant points out: “People make wild accusations about celebrities all the time and then stories get written that aren’t true. I think it was pretty obvious that’s what’s happened here.”

Mother-of-two Shery Shabani filed a lawsuit against her husband Kambiz, alleging that he tried to run Beckham off the road because he believed the soccer star was having an affair with his wife. She has since filed for divorce and has denied ever being romantically involved with the world-famous star.

There is of course another issue here, and that is the super injunction itself. It’s one thing protecting footballers and their families from unwanted press intrusion, but in this case would Beckham taking out an injunction have made matters worse, when he had clearly done nothing wrong?

If you are looking for advice on privacy laws, injunction or other similar issues contact the Choix Team for the best independent advice.

Choix Multimedia Team

#OneTeamOneChoix

0330 321 1460

info@onechoix.com

www.onechoix.com

 

Game, Set and Batch of Injuries; Too many matches in a congested schedule for Tennis’ elite

 

adrian_rattenbury

With the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the year days away, the world’s top-six ranked players, including Petra Kvitova, have all retired from warm-up events in Australia in the past week .Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska are the latest players to suffer setbacks before the Australian Open, with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza – have also had injuries this week. French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova has joined the Australian Open casualty ward, withdrawing from the event as she continues to battle a bacterial infection.

On the men’s side Roger Federer has been laid low for much of last week with a bug, world No.9 Richard Gasquet is already out with a back injury and fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils (leg) was an early withdrawal from the Hopman Cup. Gasquet, who is suffering with a back injury, has joined Juan Monaco and Australian youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis in pulling out of the year’s first grand slam.

This has sparked the debate once more that players are putting their bodies on the line repeatedly without adequate rest and rehabilitation. The combination of an ever dwindling off season, general overtraining and the increasing exposure to the unforgiving concrete courts, that dominate the circuit in the modern era, are the main causes of players breaking down.

Less than a week into 2016, injuries and illness are already prevalent as can be seen from the following:

  • Women’s world No.1 Serena Williams (knee)
  • Women’s world No.2 Simona Halep (achilles tendon)
  • Women’s world No.3 Garbine Muguruza (foot)
  • Women’s world No.4 Maria Sharapova (forearm)
  • Women’s world No.9 Lucie Safarova (bacterial infection)
  • Men’s world No.3 Roger Federer (bug)
  • Men’s world No.9 Richard Gasquet (back)
  • Men’s world No.16 Gael Monfils (leg)
  • Samantha Stosur (wrist)
  • Casey Dellacqua (concussion)
  • Ajla Tomljanovic (stomach)
  • Thanasi Kokkinakis (shoulder)

It is almost certain that before the first Grand Slam of the year, there will be numerous players who withdraw or cannot play, whilst when the event starts, due to the sweltering conditions there will be player retirements and withdrawals through exhaustion or injury.

With the Australian Open about to begin on Monday 18th January the majority of players will have allowed themselves three weeks off in December in preparation for the Australian summer. Tennis has no off-season like many other professional sports. So for a lot of the players they will still have been grinding it out in tournaments until the end of November.

Temperatures in Australia often reach 38/40c degrees making it horrible to sit and watch let alone play!
A combination of the pressure to satisfy tournament sponsors, appease TV and Media schedules, win prize money and secure ranking points is compelling players to compete too regularly and in turn they are putting themselves at a far greater risk of injury.

Top 10 players must commit to specific WTA tournaments, exclusive of the Grand Slams and the year-end WTA Championships, which include the four Premier Mandatory tournaments, four of the Premier 5’s and at least two 700-level tournaments. A player has the option of skipping one of the Premier 5s annually, but must enter the one skipped in the next year. It is not hard to grasp what a gruelling schedule that becomes in practice for Tennis’ elite.

In addition further pressure is added as 2016 is an Olympic year and the Rio Olympics have to be fitted into the events schedule. None of this takes account of Davis Cup and Fed Cup which also adds to the scheduling.

The lure of money and keeping sponsors happy puts pressure on the majority of players to play 20 or more tournaments in a calendar year.

The system is set up to make money at tournaments; there is a conflict between players being pushed to make it for themselves and for others and having enough time to rest. It’s an important problem which has not been addressed properly.

The common view of Sports orthopaedic and medical specialists is that the surge in injury-related retirements during play is the result in players entering too many tournaments. The problem is not that they play too much; it’s the way the schedule is set up. Players frequently go through long stints, six weeks or more without a break. Often the tournament play, coupled with the rigors of travel and practicing every day can be too much and most players could benefit from some time off.

The ATP and WTA claim that they have addressed the problem. Both have education programmes emphasising the need for planning a schedule and preparation. The ATP provides full-time trainers for which demand has markedly increased, as do the WTA for the women, though there are many more personal trainers on the men’s tour.

There are the added issues that players hit the ball so hard, the rackets have had such an effect and there is now so much “strength in depth” in both the men’s and women’s games. In addition, matches are tougher on the body and there are few easy ones any more. Players are learning about the balance of preparation, prevention and recovery and rehab. The ATP and WTA would argue that stats don’t show there are more injuries than before; it’s that several high-profile players have had injuries. This catches people’s attention.

The WTA stats over the last five years indicate a doubling of on-site withdrawals. More injuries have been caused by changes in the modern game. There is a need to rationalise the calendar better around the Grand Slams, with constant changes of surface, culture and of time zones influence the body a lot more than is realised.

In addition players are playing a lot more tennis and it’s a 12 – month sport now. The technology is such that they are more prone to injuries and the majority of injuries seem to be over-use problems.
Similarly, the elite junior players from pre-puberty to late teens seem to pick up the same kind of injuries as the elite groups. There are often changes in the dominant shoulders, with a reduced range of movement. There can be an asymmetry problem and postural changes.

That’s a warning for the professional tours if they allow undue pressure on players to compete. It is a difficult dilemma, but if an authority sets up a new system which penalises a player for not turning up, you have to wonder whether it is better.

The pressure to satisfy tournament sponsors, TV and Media schedules, as well as, to win prize money and ranking points is making players compete too much and run a far greater risk of getting injured. Will the time come when the players start taking the administrators to court?

The ATP/WTA need to take responsibility and put players’ health high on the agenda. Otherwise the situation might give way to litigation, as we have seen in football. There could be specialists who would come forward and say “This guy should rest”. You can speculate how long it will be before a player who feels forced into playing might turn round and sue. It might sound farfetched, but you can imagine it happening!

If you require any legal advice surrounding litigation issues please do not hesitate to contact the Choix team.

Adrian Rattenbury – Sports Consultant and Head of the European Registry of Tennis Professionals (RPT)

Choix

#OneChoiceOneTeam

0845-0348984

info@onechoix.com

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CHOIX YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!

Many thanks to Georgia Horrocks and Zara Khan, LLM LPC Students at the University of Law – Leeds for this guest blog post written following a workshop by the Choix team at the University of Law.

As law students, making an impression with a firm can be the stepping stone to a successful career, which is what the Choix Team emphasised at their recent workshop.

WHO ARE CHOIX?

Established to meet the specific needs of professionals within the sport, entertainment and media sectors, Choix is a unique concept that brings together a number of specialist, ‘best in class’ organisations providing a bespoke service delivering their expertise to a variety of leading figures in the entertainment, media and sports industry. Choix, delivered an insightful talk titled: ‘How to be Career Ready for a Life in Law!’ lead by Stephen Lownsbrough, Deborah Ogden and Andy Boyde for a range of students, which helped us prepare for a career in law.

WHICH LAW FIRM?

Stephen, who has been named in the Legal 500 for over 15 years for Sport, has worked within the sports industry for over 38 years and is well-known for his work in sports law, both regionally and nationally. He began the talk by emphasizing the important of researching the firms you apply to for a training contract. It is necessary to find out what areas they practice in – many of the larger firms rarely dip into private client work, so this can impact which type of firm you apply for.

The Legal 500 and Chambers guides give a good feel for the different law firms and what to expect from each one, but ultimately the best way to find out if a law firm is for you is to experience it for yourself.

Stephen touched on the importance of being in control of your reputation, a topic which all three speakers emphasized throughout the talk. People tend to buy into others they like, so it is important to be in control of situations in order to display your best self.

PERSONAL BRAND

Deborah Ogden highlighted and explained the importance of a ‘personal brand’ and how to make an impact. Deborah, a trained lawyer and previous College of Law student in York, has over 15 years’ experience working with top athletes and well known sporting clubs. Her role entailed aiding in the enhancement of the brand, and she stressed how important this was to us, as law students.

The first 5 seconds of meeting someone are crucial to making a good impression. You will be instantly judged and assessed by a person’s gut reaction, which is why it is so crucial. It can take up to a further 20 meetings to change a poor first impression, a worrying thought! A first impression includes a person’s appearance, how they sound and even their smell! Deborah also emphasized just how important a solid handshake is – a good handshake includes palm contact and direct eye contact. She spoke about how your body language can send out a message, so it is important to send the right one. Walk into a room with a purpose and act like you are meant to be there, as body language is an outer expression of what’s going on in the mind.

Deborah struck a chord with the students and emphasized the need to embrace our individuality. She shared a fun way for us all to express ourselves before an interview and that need every law student has to have a ‘power pose’. Standing strong for 2 minutes before an important meeting can subconsciously increase the positive receptors in the brain. She also suggested everyone should have a ‘smile file’, which is a small collection of positive messages you have received, whether that be comments on a piece of work, a tweet, an email, and so on. The file is a consolation for when you have a bad day, that can give you an extra boost to carry on.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Lastly, we heard from Andy Boyde, who is a former professional rugby player, and has used his specialism within the industry to qualify as a Solicitor.

Andy showed us the importance of being socially aware of what we post and the consequences of this. 4 out of 5 employers will check your online presence, and first impressions are often before you have even walked through the door. He emphasized the need for checking privacy settings, as everyone knows it isn’t just you who can add images or post comments on your profile.

A professional image needs to be carried across all social media platforms, not just LinkedIn. However, employers know we are all human and use many social media outlets, so we should not completely hide ourselves, but ensure pictures and statuses are not inappropriate. Andy went on to show us his profile, to demonstrate what he meant. He showed us how an old photo of him drinking and socializing with his friends can crop up unexpectedly. Contrast this with his current profile picture, a professional head shot, which makes him instantly look astute.

CONCLUSION

The workshop emphasized the need in doing research of each firm you apply to, as the firm you pick is as important to you as the trainee they pick to them. One of the best ways to put yourself in front of law firms is to network. Remember that there is no perfect moment to break the ice, be confident in yourself and you have nothing to fear. However, do your homework with the firm before approaching them, and ask interesting questions, in order to leave an impression with the representative you spoke to. With more competition than ever, it is absolutely necessary to stand out, by developing your personal brand.

Foreign Owners and Transfer Windows – Saddle up…it ain’t Football

Olympic showjumping

Equestrian sport’s version of the transfer window shut on the 15th January, but the results are only becoming apparent now.

Many people are not aware that few top riders own the horses they compete on. Instead they ride and train with a horse that is owned by someone else who is free to sell the horse to anyone they choose.
The Olympic transfer deadline usually falls on 31 December. This time it was 15 January, this was voted in at the 2013 FEI general assembly, the reason for changing the date to 15 January from 31 December was to take account of office closures over the Christmas and New Year period for all associated organisations

In the run-up to any Olympic Games, there is a deadline of 31 December the year before to complete sales, and countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been scrambling to find world-class horses for their riders. Thus, rather like professional footballers, there’s also a transfer window for horses.
Millions of pounds have changed hands, much of the cash coming from the Middle East. Riders and producers of all disciplines are involved in the process

For London 2012 several top horses were sold ahead of the deadline, including Titus who went to Edwina Tops-Alexander in Australia from Britain’s Guy Williams who said: “I have to run a business”
He was swiftly reunited with Guy Williams — but too late to be re-registered to Team GBR for a chance to compete at the London Games.

British showjumper Talan was also sold — this time by Robert Smith and Di Cornish to Saudi Equestrian Fund for Prince Faisal, but didn’t make it onto their 2012 bronze medal-winning squad.

Why does the British team allowed this to happen, and how much damage does it do to British hopes at Rio 2016?

The answer is that the fate of those horses was never fully in the British team’s hands.

If the owner is presented with an offer for the horse that they consider too good to turn down, there is nothing to stop them selling – regardless of the consequences for the rider or a nation’s Olympic hopes.
There is also the Olympic transfer deadline, where horses have to be registered for the nation they’re going to compete for.

For some of the nations that qualified for the Olympics fairly late, it became a scramble to try to find Olympic-standard horses. That has happened in the past before Olympic year, but what’s different over recent Olympic years is that the Middle Eastern countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and so on – are now actively involved in the top end of show jumping.

Consequently, the Middle Eastern countries have moved the whole sport and business to a new level. As in the case of football where certain clubs (such as Manchester City and Chelsea) have large transfer budgets, so it has become with show jumping where horses at international and Olympic level are expensive, probably between £500,000 and £2.5m each.

The transfer window before an Olympic year is therefore always a worrying time for riders keen to hang on to good horses.

But unlike a football team, which can at least normally choose whether or not to sell a star player during a transfer window, riders are usually powerless to affect the outcome if an owner receives a hefty bid.
There are however some loyal owners who turn down offers for their horses and want to go to the Olympics and try to get the horse into the team.

But for a lot of people – riders and owners – it’s a business, and the only way to keep going is to sell every now and again. An additional difficulty is that show jumping does not attract a huge amount of commercial sponsors that can take the pressure off the riders. The sport is not like Football or Formula 1 where you have international global brands offering to put in several million pounds.

As with any team in any sport it is important to have strength in depth and the problem with show jumping is losing Olympic standard horses means losing some of that depth. If you have an injury to one of the other horses now in contention, you have fewer to choose from.

So as in football, the rich teams, namely those with foreign owners or investors, are the only ones who can afford to match the “biggest stars” inflated transfer fees (and in the case of football, also salaries).

As a result, those owners, teams and nations who have access to significant wealth can buy success whatever the cost and at the same time squeeze the smaller owners by making offers “they cannot refuse”, not just to buy the best as well as success but to weaken the opposition and so at the same time those owners, teams and nations getting stronger themselves!

Whilst due to the nature of the sport, top riders are unlikely to become the focus of some form of transfer fee, the time could arrive that the “offering” which wealthy foreign owners can put on the table in terms of individual investment, facilities and quality of equine, our best riders become exclusively “tied” and move abroad to ply their trade where there are also greater tax benefits – like footballers…only time will tell?

The Choix Team

#OneTeamOneChoix
T: 0330 321 1460
info@onechoix.com
www.onechoix.com

Being a Good Sport?

Photo of Sarah BarkerAs the Olympics came to London for the first time in over sixty years, 2012 saw the popularity of sport increase beyond all imagination. Children were able to see sporting heroes competing on home ground, and those lucky enough even got to sit close enough to feel the atmosphere.

In recent months, the exposure of the widespread Russian doping scandal has put a dampener on what truly was a magnificent summer of sport. Following which, cycling championships have been tarnished with the discovery of an electric bike and, despite strong-willed speeches from President Lord Coe this week, leading brand Nestle, has now ceased its sponsorship of the Kids IAAF Athletics due to doping and corruption scandals.

With current revelations of fraud and corruption in the world of sport coming all too frequently, there is a strong risk that the enthusiasm and inspiration created by London 2012 will be depleted. If younger generations have their heroes and heroines exposed as cheats and fraudsters, how will this affect their dreams?

Leading sports names such as Paula Radcliffe have had their personal details exposed in ways they never imagined; proving their innocence in a whirlwind of revealing publicity. Years of hard work, dedication and intense training can be unravelled with one negative headline.

It is time to stop. To consider the implications of all these revelations on the sport stars of tomorrow. By taking a zero tolerance attitude towards sporting cheats, the true essence of competition will prevail as it should. Inspire the next generation to play fair, to admonish the cheats, to aspire to be the best… truly the best.

For more advice on issues surrounding personal and brand protection, contact the #Choix Team.

Sarah Barker
Legal Investigation, Research and Training Consultant

#OneTeamOneChoix

T : 0330 321 1460

info@onechoix.com
www.onechoix.com
www. thirteenresearch.co.uk