Few would question Lionel Messi occupying the status of being the best footballer in the world, but how many would support the idea of him being a world-class businessman?

In the case of Lionel Messi where his annual reported earnings are around £62 million with endorsements, it seems any of his business investments outside of football serve merely as a fun activity rather than for securing a financial future post- career. However, not all world-class athletes are in such a fortunate position. 

Lizzie Deigan - a decorated Olympic and Road Cycling World Champion recently discussed on BBC Radio 5 Live's Wake Up to Money programme the difficulties professional athletes face in obtaining financial security through their sport. In the case of Cycling, not only are the contractual salaries low for the athletes, but any possible income from the monetisation of their own image rights through broadcasting is channelled back to the race organisers. ASO who run the world renowned Tour de France did not channel any of funds raised from broadcasting the Women's tour back to the riders, despite the race drawing significant viewing figures.

At its core, there is an issue of elite athletes failing to commercialise their sport and an issue of securing a financial future after sport, often as a result of a lack of professional support. The reality is that most sports at the elite level have a natural age barrier resulting in short-term financial security and long-term uncertainty. It is essential that elite athletes seek specialist advice from experts who can negotiate their contracts and help plan their futures to ensure their immediate and post sporting careers are secured.

At Irwin Mitchell, we are uniquely positioned to offer our clients a full suite of legal and financial services for athletes and professional sportspersons. Our services include commercial and intellectual property advice through our Business Legal Services teams and financial and estate planning advice through our Private Wealth and Personal Legal Services teams. We are proud to currently work with elite sportspersons to support them through their careers and beyond.