Cycling: Bradley Wiggins in negotiations to join David Beckham’s talent agency
Bradley Wiggins is in negotiations to join Simon Fuller’s agency XIX Entertainment, a move that would bring him into the same management stable as David Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton.
Wiggins, 32, is said to be keen to join the select company represented by Spice Girls guru Fuller, but his departure from current management agency MTC is the subject of legal correspondence.
If the Tour de France winner and Olympic champion is to leave it is understood that XIX will have to pay sizeable compensation to MTC, which has represented him for eight years, a period taking in almost his entire Olympic career.
MTC, run by Jonathan Marks, has been Wiggins’s sole agents and negotiated a number of key contracts including his departure from Garmin-Slipstream in 2009 to join Team Sky, and endorsement deals with Oakley, Fred Perry and a book deal.
MTC considers that it still represents Wiggins and has not been informed of any notice to terminate its deal, but there is a widespread expectation that he will leave to join Fuller’s stable shortly.
Wiggins, who returned to competitive action in the Tour of Catalonia in Spain on Monday, may be hoping to capitalise on a remarkable year of success in 2012 that catapulted him to mainstream national acclaim.
In becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France he broke new ground for cycling in the UK, and topped his year by winning gold in the time-trial in the opening week of the London Olympics. The Olympic title took his tally to four golds plus a silver and two bronzes in a career that stretches back to Sydney 2000.
His mainstream appeal was acknowledged by Olympic opening ceremony director Danny Boyle, who selected Wiggins to ring the giant bell that marked the start of the Games last year.
With his distinctive mod look – he races with an red, white and blue roundel on his helmet and trademark sideburns – Wiggins plainly has appeal to a broader audience than the weekend warriors in Lycra inspired by his efforts on two wheels alone.
His straight-talking, rock and roll image was burnished last Christmas, when he marked his selection as BBC Sports Personality of the Year by joining the band at the after-show party to play songs by The Jam and Oasis.
It is this broader appeal that Wiggins may be hoping to tap as he moves to XIX in the final years of a competitive career that may not stretch all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
XIX Entertainment has established a niche working with a small number of individual sportsmen who it believes can establish similar profiles to that enjoyed by Beckham.
In Beckham, Hamilton and Murray XIX sees an opportunity to build profiles for the athletes beyond their natural sporting base.
Through selective endorsement deals and a deliberate strategy they try and establish their clients as icons, something Wiggins has already achieved courtesy of his feats on two wheels.
Estimates put his earning potential following his annus mirabilis at £5 million, but an enduring career may be as important as the size of the cheques as he moves into the final phase of his racing days.
Cycling has moved to a new level in terms of public appeal and profile but there are nothing like the earning opportunities available to ex-footballers or cricketers in the sport.
The change of management may open up other avenues in fashion and music as well as sport, and it is likely that these have been stressed in XIX's discussions with the cyclist.