Chief Reporter, Press Association Sport

Pierre de Coubertin and several dozen long-departed British Olympic champions might shift restlessly in their graves, but the commercialisation of Team GB is forecast to hit new heights over the next four years.


Pierre de Coubertin and several dozen long-departed British Olympic champions might shift restlessly in their graves, but the commercialisation of Team GB is forecast to hit new heights over the next four years. The British Olympic Association (BOA) are working to transform Team GB into a “super brand” to rival Premier League football clubs in the domestic market. It is a world away from the Olympic ideals of the Chariots of Fire days, or even when London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe was running to gold in the 1980s. For BOA chief executive Andy Hunt, however, it is the only way to take the organisation and the team forward into a new era. Much of the emphasis will be on     “} &   the years when there is no Olympics to focus on, and to that end a deal has already been struck with Adidas looking forward to 2016. Hunt believes that the focus on the British team at this summer’s Games can be kept going, with the commercial spinoff allowing the BOA to be maintained in the manner to which it has become accustomed in recent years. Hunt said in an interview: “We will have transformed the Team GB brand from being a once every two to fouryear sporting brand into an absolute British sporting super brand. That’s the big difference – the brand value will have been transformed and that’s a very powerful asset. “We have worked very hard to make sure we have this asset and I think the brand value could rank alongside some of the Premier League football clubs’ brands, domestically, and we have plans for 2013- 16 that will make use of that. “This is something the BOA has really lacked in the past, when it has always been about every four years. “One of the legacies I wanted to make sure of was that not only were we much more robust and professional but that             the core asset of Team GB.” Finance has been Hunt’s biggest challenge since he was appointed in 2008, soon after which he memorably described the BOA’s joint marketing agreement with London 2012 as being “bound in a straitjacket and put in a metal cage”. Relations with London 2012 have yoyoed since, culminating last year in an unseemly dispute over any surplus from   “        & on Hunt to raise cash to fund the BOA’s major expansion in services ahead of London, but he believes he has pulled it off, thanks to “exceptionally hard work” by his team. He said the BOA had budgeted on making a small loss in 2011 but the reality – subject to audit – is that the loss was half as much as had been expected. Hunt said: “We have delivered good            We always planned in 2011 to make a very modest loss – we had to pump-prime some of our investments and commitments in 2011 to be ready for 2012. “Subject to audit, we have made a loss less than 50 per cent of what we forecast so that’s something that doesn’t keep me awake at night. Š[  \]^^       position than we forecast. “If we get everything right in this     –  ‹  !    good balance of ambition and prudence – we will exit the four-year period in a balanced position. “We are doing all the work now for the 2013-16 rights, we have          and we are in discussion with a number of other sponsors.” One outcome of the surplus dispute with London 2012 was that the BOA were given the rights to market two ‘iconic’ items ahead of the Games. One of these was launched in February: a Team GB scarf being sold by Next which the BOA hopes could generate as much as UK£5million. The other sales drive will come in May when the BOA will announce a deal with BP for a series of Team GB ‘collectables’. Hunt insists the success or failure of the ‘iconic’ items will not risk the BOA’s future. He does admit, however,             tightrope to be walked. He added: “It’s always a balancing act as we are totally reliant on sponsors and fundraising – we have no public funding. “It is very important for Team GB and ParalympicsGB that those items are a great success but we have very realistic expectations. “We would not risk the organisation around one campaign. We have a balanced portfolio so we are not too dependent on    [       of the plan we have got this year and we have done a lot to de-risk the plan in terms of larger revenue opportunities.” So that straitjacket may still be on, but the straps have been loosened, and Hunt can at least talk through the bars of his metal cage. But Team GB as a “super brand”? It will be a few years yet before it can be judged whether that ambition has become a reality. If it does so, then the BOA’s long-             Hunt will have performed an escape act to rank with Houdini himself 10 2012 04 Martyn Ziegler {filedir_26}SportsProMag_issue42_10.pdf [26383] [sportspro_april_2012] SportsPro April 2012