Sports stars have been told to “pull their heads in” as sponsors threatened to withdraw their backing from clubs such as Gina Rinehart’s.
The billionaire, who is the founder and managing director of Hancock Prospecting, had withdrawn her company’s $15 million sponsorship deal with Australia’s national netball team after it questioned the deal’s racial content.
Paul Kind, the chief executive of sports marketing firm Total Sport +, warned that the situation could lead to other companies pulling out of other sports.
He said that the negative public discussion surrounding Rinehart’s decision to invest in a financially struggling sport had undermined her positive intentions.
It only takes one person of influence to make a stand, and in conservative sports such as cricket and football, it can become very problematic. A betting executive noted that players had to understand the consequences of their actions.
He said that clubs could get significant sponsorships from telecommunications companies or banks, but they would have a hard time finding other options.
According to Mr Kind, players have become more powerful, and they can influence perceptions by being more outspoken.
This has opened up a can of worms, as some companies might be reluctant to back a team if its members are against their policies.
The members of Australia’s national netball team have been widely criticized for failing to keep their sponsor, Ms Rinehart, from leaving them with a $15 million bill.
Some suggested that they hire out sausage sizzle stands to make up for the lost revenue.