Former Welsh rugby international Shane Williams has had to clarify his relationship with a building company which was subject of a BBC investigation. TMW Roofline, which has been accused of performing poor quality building works, had added an image of Mr Williams to a van, its paperwork and website.
According to the BBC report, the former British and Irish Lion is taking legal advice on the matter and has explained that he was not paid to endorse TMW Roofline, but had agreed to give the owner a testimonial and photograph when the company did some work on his home ten years ago.
While the company in this case has taken Mr Williams' image off its paperwork, the incident highlights the importance of having in place a written endorsement agreement rather than relying on an informal verbal agreement, even if the deal seems low value or unlikely to impact other commercial arrangements.
Among the benefits of a written agreement for a sportsperson is the opportunity to set clear limits as to how their image is used and for how long, which can help protect their reputation and ensure that any rights granted do not prohibit potential future opportunities. From the company's perspective, a written agreement will confirm their rights to use the sportsperson's name and image, and any additional promotional commitments. It will help avoid disputes including false endorsement claims like that famously (and successfully) brought by former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine against Talksport Ltd after a doctored photograph of Mr Irvine was featured in a brochure produced by the radio station owner.