Winners Alliance, the commercial arm of the Professional Tennis Players Association, the breakaway tennis union founded by tennis star Novak Djokovic, has announced an agreement to manage select group commercial rights for the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) players’ union.
Under the agreement, Winners Alliance will negotiate global collective licensing, sponsorship, partnership, content, investment, and event agreements on behalf of FICA members, ending long-standing issues around players’ name, image, and likeness rights that have blighted the sport.
Winners Alliance said among its first initiatives, it will create a “sustainable group licensing program” encompassing video games, trading cards, collectibles, and various related categories.
The company said it will also provide direct funding to FICA to assist with the association’s core advocacy work and ensure better protections for players globally in the future.
Winners Alliance president Eric Winston said: “We’re thrilled to team up with FICA to generate new, innovative commercial opportunities for cricketers worldwide.
“Cricket’s global popularity speaks for itself, and its prominence will only continue to grow. We’re excited for all the possibilities this new partnership presents, and we’re looking forward to driving untapped value to cricketers across the entire cricket ecosystem.”
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FICA represents more than 500 international cricketers from 13 nations, excluding India and Pakistan. Before Winners Alliance, FICA’s commercial arm secured players' commercial and image rights in collaboration with the players, their national governing bodies, and agents.
The deal comes after FICA began legal action against the International Cricket Council in 2020, alleging the “unauthorized” exploitation of players’ commercial rights by the governing body and its sponsors.
At the time, FICA said it believed the ICC and its commercial partners were exploiting players’ images and other rights without due approvals, especially female players on the back of that year’s successful T20 World Cup in Australia, by using their images and videos in third-party content. It added it was seeking remuneration on behalf of the players, however, the issue never made it to court.
FICA chief executive Tom Moffat said: “Winners Alliance is led by the best in the world, with a proven track record of running player-led group licensing programs. We’re excited to be working with the Winners team to spearhead our first global group licensing program on behalf of cricketers worldwide.
“We’re also excited about the multi-sport opportunities this partnership will bring and know that Winners Alliance will be a key part of helping us to protect and optimize value for players affiliated to FICA and the game.”
Winners Alliance was founded in August 2022 to generate and maximize off-the-court commercial opportunities for players and their agents. It is seeking to emulate player organizations from other sports in generating new revenues for players, with trading cards, other collectibles, and video among its stated first targets.
The for-profit arm initially secured $26 million in new funding from Pershing Square Foundation, led by billionaire Bill Ackman, as well as private equity firm Prysm Capital and former NFL Players Inc. president Ahmad Nassar, who was the executive director and chief executive of Winners Alliance at the time.
Since then, Winners Alliance said it has secured more than $10 million incremental value for PTPA tennis players in its first year through collective licensing and marketing agreements with Fanatics and subsidiary Topps, TUMI, La Rosche-Posay, Heineken, CSM, Zoomph, and Grey Goose.
In February 2023, Winners Alliance partnered with creative production agency Fresh Tape Media to provide content creation solutions and resources for players worldwide.
The PTPA itself was founded in 2019 by Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil to advocate on behalf of players in the sport after becoming disillusioned with how the system was working against the players’ interests while serving on the ATP Tour’s Players Council.