UK Athletics dumps Adidas for Nike

Nike will replace Adidas as the top sponsor for the British athletics team from next year, a move that comes after a legal row between the latter and UK Athletics.

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Nike’s logo will be worn on the kits of all GB and NI track and field members from next year.

The seven-year deal will take effect from 1 January and will include the World Championships to be hosted in London 2017. It spans all GB and Northern Ireland teams outside the Olympic and Paralympic Games and will see the brand’s logo appear on the kit for Adidas’ brand ambassadors such as London 2012 gold medallists Jessica Ennis-Hill and Christine Ohuruogu. Adidas will, however, continue to partner the British Olympic Association and Team GB

The deal is reportedly worth £15m, double the current deal. It comes as athletics is enjoying its highest profile in Britain since the success of athletes including Lord Seb Coe and Daley Thompson in the 1980s following the medal winning exploits of athletes at last year’s Olympics. The sportswear brand will look to tap into the recent success by developing marketing activity featuring the country’s top athletes.

UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos, who brokered the deal says, Nike will be “superb marketing partner across British Athletics and they have some very exciting plans to be announced in the near future”. It comes as the sporting body steps up efforts to exploit growing interest in athletes such as 10,000 metres Olympic and World champion and 5000 metres Olympic, World and European champion Mo Farah by expanding its commercial roster. In July, it extended its broadcasting deal with the BBC.

De Vos adds: “We are thrilled to announce this new deal with Nike – the scale and length of their commitment is significant and demonstrates their confidence in the future of British Athletics.”

Adidas has provided official kit for Great Britain’s track and field team for the last eight years, but took UK Athletics to court last month in a row over claims it had the right to match any rival offer. The claim was dismissed by the court, allowing the sporting body to complete the deal with its biggest rival. It is unknown on what grounds the court dismissed Adidas’ legal challenge to the planned switch to Nike.

The German sportswear brand will look to push its track and field ties to other countries such as South Africa and Ethiopia to fill the void left by UK Athletics switch.

An Adidas spokesman said: “As one of the world’s leading sports brands, we look forward to continuing our long history in athletics through our sponsorship of national federations such as Tobago, South Africa and Ethiopia, and athletes including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Yohan Blake and David Rudisha.

The switch heightens the bitter rivalry between Adidas and Nike, which was brought into sharp focus earlier this year after the latter objected to a clause committing its brand ambassadors to do promotional work for the National Lottery while wearing Adidas branded GB kit.

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