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Sports Contract

To Sign or Not to Sign: First read the fine print, then get independent advice

The Australian sporting world is watching which way the ball will bounce in the signing of the young superstar Joseph Suaali to Rugby Australia, and what will be the terms of his contract.

It brings to mind the complexity of such negotiations, and how young sport stars just commencing their career in professional sport, need to be particularly wary. Often when starting out, there is an imbalance of power between selectors and eager applicants, creating issues that can come back to bite in later years. Very often too, the guiding hand is that of parents who may be equally susceptible to what appears to be a golden chance for their child, or agents with a vested interest in seeing a deal done.

Like any business relationship, sport is just that in the end, a business; and contracts equate to partnership agreements binding the parties in a set of restrictions often dictated by the sporting body to the detriment of those signing on.

In these circumstances, it cannot be stated too clearly that you need independent legal advice before any contractual agreement is signed. What looks like opportunity to begin with, can look like a dead end further down the track. As the saying goes, “Act in haste, repent at leisure”.

At the very least, know what you are signing up for by getting advice from a professional with no vested interest in the outcome, and then make an informed decision. That way you will know for sure where the goal posts are planted.

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