Name: Stephen J Lownsbrough

Role: Co-Founder

Organisation: CHOIX

What is Choix and what services does Choix offer?

Choix was established to meet specific needs of professional within the sport, entertainment and media sectors. It is a unique concept that brings together a number of specialists from the sports, entertainment and media sectors to handle each client’s bespoke business and lifestyle requirements.

The ‘partners’ – a number of who have been professional sports people themselves – are able to provide clients with a seamless service, giving them peace of mind that all aspects of their business affairs are being taken care of by experienced professionals.

Examples the types of service we offer include:

–          Sports, Entertainment, Media and Lifestyle law

–          Professional Mentoring in Sport and Entertainment

–          Publishing, PR, Brand Creation and Photography

–          Website, Social Media and Digital Marketing (including Training and Workshops)

–          Communication and Media Skills (including Training and Workshops)

–          Professional Services training, workshops and seminars

–          HR Strategy

–          Wealth Management

–          Accountancy and Tax Practice

–          Insurance & Risk Management

Whilst major management companies are able to provide their clients with full professional services, many professionals from the sports and entertainment sector are left to rely on ad hoc advisors when making important decisions about their career. The partners at Choix are able to offer high quality services on par with the major management companies but on an independent basis.

Playing sport professionally is living the dream, does the dream stop once a playing career comes to an end or are most ex-professionals able to think pragmatically about their future careers?

For many professional sportspeople, retirement is a concept that they do not wish to think about in great detail. However, all sports careers will eventually come to a close, whether this is through age, injury or exhaustion. It is often said that a sports star will die twice, the first time at retirement. For elite athletes who have dedicated their lives to sport, what happens when your time comes to an end, if you aren’t an athlete, then who are you? The sudden impact can have marked effect in different ways whether depression, alcohol, gambling, matrimonial breakdown, financial or other issues.

Whilst governing bodies offer various services, this is often left to the individual to take up and often because of pride as a last resort. What is required is educating clubs and individuals to embrace a career plan scheme for individuals that is transferable in terms of career as well as future skill requirements.

Do you help ex-sports professionals redefine themselves?

Most of the Choix Consultants have experience both the ‘highs & lows’ during and after their careers have finished. A key and valued offering is the Mentoring Service supported by our Consultants (such as Jim Pearson, John Hendrie, Anthony McGrath and Madeline Perry) who ‘have been there and done it’. Irrespective of the chosen sport, each Consultant has experienced the anxieties of their careers coming to an end and having to deal with the impact emotionally, physically and psychologically. They can talk from real experience and understanding.

What are the common problems ex-sports professionals face when trying to launch a career

The majority of sports professionals have a clear purpose in life and feel valued, yet when the career is over, they are left to contemplate a future without this sense of purpose. It can be devastating to some. I always advise Ex-professionals on the need to find mental nourishment and stimulation through new careers and opportunities as a way to re-discover the same sense of purpose they once derived from their relevant sport.

Another big concern in financial management. It is shocking to think that, despite the huge sums of wealth in football, two out of every five players are made bankrupt within five years of retiring from professional football. Even for those who avoid bankruptcy, there remains the necessity to pay bills, the mortgage, school fees and other commitments once their playing career is over. The average lower-league player is expected to receive between £1.300 – £1,500 per week, which seems like a lot of money until you consider that this pay stops when they retire , with the lucky ones managing to extend their career to aged 35. This is why it is crucial for ex-professionals to consider financial planning and new opportunities that will extend their earnings beyond playing football.