Last updated 16 August 2016
Promotion of sporting events, sometimes called event management, involves a variety of activities and therefore a variety of different legal considerations, many of which are contractual. Promotion raises issues that are the subject of consumer law, employment law, law relating to personal injuries, intellectual property, advertising and trade practices, and laws dealing with smoking at certain venues.
Promoters are generally responsible for planning, organising finance, organising contractual relations with athletes and officials, organising broadcasting rights and advertising, and securing sponsorship. Notwithstanding this, the promoter does not have an exclusive legal ownership of the event. If a promoter wants to control the event, this is done through the use of contracts (e.g. with spectators via the terms and conditions of purchasing a ticket). Such terms might include restrictions on photographing or videoing an event, what may be brought into the event, and whether tickets may be resold. For these terms to be binding, it is important that they are clearly visible and made known to the buyer before they are committed to purchasing the ticket.
For larger events, government legislation may also assist in clarifying the rights and obligations of event organisers, spectators and others. The Major Events Act 2014 (Qld) (Major Events Act) allows for the declaration of certain locations in order to stage major events such as V8 Supercar motor racing. The Major Sports Facilities Act 2001 (Qld) (Sports Facilities Act) applies to major stadiums and venues throughout Queensland, as prescribed by the Major Sports Facilities Regulation 2014 (Qld). Under the Sports Facilities Act, a ticket holder can resell a ticket, but it is an offence to ask for a price greater than 10% of the original price (and an offence for someone to buy a ticket at such a price). This prevents scalping, although on a one-off basis, scalping is difficult to police. Scalping on a commercial level can be prevented by injunction (a court order which restrains certain conduct).
Sponsorship is invariably the purchase of advertising or other similar services by the sponsor. The relationship between the promoter and the sponsor is always contractual, and it is important when drawing up these contracts that the specific advertising or service be precisely included in the contract. This protects both sponsor and promoter.
Sponsorship of sporting events is an important vehicle used by businesses to create brand awareness, and sponsors are prepared to pay large sums of money to have their brand and the event linked together. A problem for a promoter is the protection of the sponsor against ambush marketing. This occurs where an unrelated organisation markets its product or service in a manner that gives the appearance of being officially associated with an event when in fact this is not the case (e.g. through using billboards outside the event stadium or aerial blimps and skywriting). An ambush marketer attempts to obtain the benefits of being an official sponsor of an event without paying licence or sponsorship fees sought by the organiser. Part 4B of the Sports Facilities Act, ss 32-35 of the Major Events Act and s 52 of the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act 2011 (Qld) are all legislative attempts to restrict the opportunities for ambush marketing at major sporting events.