Man of the Match? We’ll send the bill later

10 years ago a law firm actually managed to trademark the phrase "man of the match", and now that trademark's for sale.

For years, bookies and sports pundits have been using the phrase “man of the match” to heap praise on the best player in a game, but they may soon have to pay for the privilege.

OFS Group, an intellectual property firm which registered the trademark for the phrase in 2002, is selling the rights.

Bookmakers including Ladbrokes and Paddy Power and beer firms such as Budweiser and Carlsberg have already expressed their interest in rights, which include the Man of the Match trademark and the website address, Metis Partners is brokering the deal.

The trademark is expected to fetch a high six-figure sum, although it could stretch into the millions amid expectations that the new owner will effectively be able to penalise companies for using the phrase without consent. OFS has already made a return on the trademark by licensing it for use on packets of KP Peanuts and McCoy’s crisps.

“It’s a phrase that is used all the time and the buyer will have the opportunity to charge for that use,” said Metis chief executive Stephen Roberston. “It’s not quite about suing them, the way Apple does for companies that use its name, but they will be able to make some money.”

Andy Gray, the former Aston Villa player, who now hosts Talksport Radio, added that Man of the Match was one of the game’s “most respected accolades”.

“Players in the really big leagues appreciate it because it means that they are seen as being the best of the best.”

OFS will not be the first company trying to make money out of a phrase. Last year, Surrey businessman Mark Coop was branded “greedy” after he registered the trademark to the wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” and banned other companies from using it.

In 1992, American boxing and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer took out the trademark to his own slogan, Let’s Get Ready to Rumble, and sold it to companies that produce videos and adverts. By 2009 he had made more than $400m (£246m) from the rights.

Offers for the Man of the Match trademark are due on Thursday.

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