EVENT-SPECIALIST lawyers MinterEllison are tracking increased investment in Australian sport by international companies – especially from Asia.
MinterEllison, as the official lawyers of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018), are not only seeing major investment inflows as a result of GC2018 but also into other sporting codes and events.
“We’ve seen first-hand over the last three years a definite increase in interest from overseas parties wanting to participate in the Australian sports and events industry,” MinterEllison sports law expert Paula Robinson said.
“One of the key insights for me has been the growing impact and importance of sport and major sporting events – and indeed the investments made by the wider Asian region.”
MinterEllison dedicated an embedded team of seven legal experts to provide a fully outsourced legal and brand protection service to GC2018. This ‘first’ was part of a three-year partnership with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) which started in 2015.
Ms Robinson said Australia’s reputation of being a reliable host of major international sporting events, and its growing ability to win prestigious hosting rights, has resulted in international investors seeking new ways to get involved and be ‘seen’ at these events.
“The MinterEllison sports law practice has seen a pattern of new wealth and sporting development/investment coming from the Asian region in particular,” Ms Robinson said.
“Through the Commonwealth Games we've worked on many matters with parties from various nations – juggling expectations, requirements and demands across jurisdictions has been challenging, but being at the ‘pointy-end’ has really highlighted just how strong the interest is coming into Australia and the Games.”
Ms Robinson said the trend was creating new opportunities in areas like broadcasting, sports infrastructure, tourism and sporting event delivery, but also for sport focussed professional services.
Australia hosts established international sporting events including the Australian Grand Prix, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and the Australian Tennis Open. Australia has also secured hosting rights to some high profile one-off events such as the Commonwealth Games, the Invictus Games, and the T20 Cricket World Cup.
“Sport is big business globally,” Ms Robinson said. “The region is investing seriously. As disposable income from the region grows, nations are becoming more absorbed in sport. That means more complexity in professional advisory areas and a heightened focus on the legal, financial and governance infrastructure that sits behind sporting organisations and events.
When coupled with the dynamic path forward that sport is taking – the rise in interest in women's sport, like AFLW, and the emergence of new international competitions like the Rugby Tens rugby revolution – it is evident that future opportunities for professional services with strong sporting credentials are abundant.
“There are significant growth opportunities for Australian professional service firms wanting to position themselves as leaders in the Asia-Pacific region,” Ms Robinson said.
“This includes demand from clients seeking to better manage their presence at key sporting events and their involvement with high profile sporting organisations.”
The firm is also the official lawyers of the 2018 Invictus Games to be held in Sydney later this year.
THE AUSTRALIAN Institute of sport (AIS) has established the Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team, led by newly appointed AIS deputy director Matti Clements.
AIS director Peter Conde said as the peak agency for high performance sport in Australia, it was vital the AIS led the way with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) by prioritising athlete wellbeing.
“By establishing the Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team we are sending a clear message to our athletes and our sports that they are our greatest assets and they matter most to us,” Mr Conde said.
“Mental health and wellbeing is fundamental for any athlete. Proactive measures to promote athlete wellbeing will be an essential focus of this team, assisting sports and athletes to cope with the unique pressures of high performance environments. It’s about supporting athletes as they transition through key moments in their sporting lives and beyond.”
The Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team will focus on holistic athlete development, including life skills to negotiate the high performance environment, professional development in career and education and activities to assist community engagement and integration.
A former AIS sport psychologist, Ms Clements has returned to the institute after more than 15 years working with Australian professional sporting codes. Ms Clements said she was excited by the advancement in mental health support in sport, but greater emphasis and leadership was still required.
“It’s time for all Australian sport to recognise the importance of athlete mental health in the elite sporting environment and understand the need to support and encourage our great athletes to engage with their communities and in positive life activities outside of training and competing,” Ms Clements said
“There has no doubt been a shift in the understanding of mental health in Australian society and as we talk about it more there is less stigma. But that stigma still exists. Athletes are generally tuned to be strong, fearless and to not show vulnerability, so we need to culturally embed athlete wellbeing in sporting environments.
“For the ASC Board, CEO and the AIS director to understand and support the importance of this area in high performance sport shows international leadership and I am extremely proud to be asked to be part of the new Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement team. It’s an exciting time to be part of elite sport in this country.”