First published on Mon 5 Jan 2009 19.05 EST Share on WhatsApp Tennis Share on LinkedIn Mon 5 Jan 2009 19.05 EST Share on Twitter • Murray signs with Simon Fuller, the man behind Pop Idol• Decision part of a campaign to boost Murray’s international stature The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Murray’s global deal lets him brand it like Beckham Andy Murray … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Andy Murray Shares00 Share on Facebook Owen Gibson and Richard Jago Reuse this content Read more Since you’re here… Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Support The Guardian Share via Email Share via Email Andy Murray may have started the season in fine form on the tennis court but he has also resolved that 2009 will be the year he makes a serious impression off it. The Scot’s decision to sign with 19 Entertainment, the company that fuelled the growth of Brand Beckham and propelled the Spice Girls to huge riches not once but twice, marks a new determination to compete on a international stage.According to industry insiders, that could mean trading in domestic sponsors such as Highland Spring and Fred Perry for global brands and a concerted campaign to elevate Murray’s stature not only in Europe and the US but in the sport’s frontier lands of Doha, Beijing and Dubai. Just as Murray, now No4 in the world, has prospered with his game since recruiting his own bespoke team, those close to him have turned to Simon Fuller, the man made rich by rolling out Pop Idol around the world, to try to repeat the trick with his branding.Murray and his mother Judy, who plays a key role in overseeing the careers of Andy and his brother Jamie (who has also signed with 19), have hand picked a small team of Fuller’s employees to work with them during what could be a pivotal year. The decision to jettison Ace Management, a boutique sports agency whose managing director, Patricio Apey, has personally looked after Murray’s affairs, for the global reach of 19 was based on a desire to exploit the boost in profile that will result from a grand slam victory or further progress up the rankings by the Britain No1.”I had been with Patricio for three years, maybe a little bit more. I did well with him, he did a good job. But like a lot of things they run their course and you want to move on,” said Murray yesterday. “I think the decision I have made is a good one. It’s a great opportunity. If I want to set up an exhibition or a charity or a school or an academy or whatever, I just think if you are with a bigger company these sort of things become easier.” Share on Pinterest Topics Share on Messenger 19 will take over Murray’s affairs from March, although that date could move forward if an agreement can be reached with Ace. Industry insiders are split on the wisdom of the move with some questioning whether Murray would not be better off with a more traditional sports agency. But Fuller’s elevated position in the entertainment industry on both sides of the Atlantic will help move Murray into rarified company. Already a key Los Angeles powerbroker by virtue of the fact that Pop Idol almost single-handedly saved Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network, Fuller’s stock has risen further since he sold 19 to US group CKX for £75m in 2005.The move to secure Murray could also signal a more concerted effort to move into sport by the company. Insiders say Fuller has a policy of only signing one key name in each sport and will only take on those he believes have the potential to become global stars. “For each Murray or Beckham, there are 30 or 40 who wouldn’t want or benefit from the 19 treatment,” said one.Another recent foray into sport by 19 was unsuccessful after a high-profile environmental project for Honda foundered and some observers saw it as a contributory factor to the team’s decision to pull out of formula one altogether. And aside from its success with Beckham, who was already a global star, 19’s other sporting work has been more low key. For the past year, for example, it has handled the affairs of Team England.Murray, though, will benefit from an alliance with Hollywood powerhouse Creative Artists which counts Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and sports stars including Novak Djokovic and Beckham among its US clients.19 is following a familiar path. Over a protracted 18-month period Beckham split with SFX, the sports agency that had helped mastermind his ascent, ahead of his move to Real Madrid, and signed with Fuller. While critics initially sniffed at Fuller’s grandiose plans to build a global brand around Beckham and his wife Victoria that transcended music and sport, he had the last laugh.While no one in the sports marketing industry expects Murray to be given a slick overnight makeover – “David Beckham is a sex symbol, popular with people who don’t follow the sport and a global figure. Andy Murray is never going to be that,” points out Max Clifford – they detect signs that the once truculent teenager is maturing into a potentially marketable star.They believe younger sports fans can identify with him in a way that few other global sports stars can match, seeing him as less remote than his rivals and pointing to the popularity of his website. A priority will be to secure new deals with brands that can help take him to a larger audience without diluting his unaffected air.