Wimbledon boosts LTA profits; RTVE to show new Spanish event
The Lawn Tennis Association, the governing body for the sport in the UK, has announced its first operating profit for four years, but warned of uncertain times ahead due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The LTA’s finance and governance report for 2019 revealed an £8.7 million ($10.51 million) operating profit, up from an operating loss of £6.3 million last year. Revenues also increased from £64.5 million to £77.3 million.
Much of the turnaround can be attributed to a record injection of cash from The All England Lawn Tennis Club, organisers of the Wimbledon Championships, which posted a record surplus of £50.8 million.
Each year, the AELTC gives the LTA 90 per cent of its distributable surplus, plus additional funding, to support grassroots tournaments and officiating fees. Its total payments of £52.07 million amounts to 60 per cent of the LTA’s finances.
The Grand Slam tournament’s cancellation for 2020 was set to deny the LTA its biggest single source of funding. However, the AELTC’s investment in pandemic insurance will likely provide 60 to 70 per cent as much funding for the LTA as a normal Wimbledon.
The LTA also has a total equity of £174.8 million and cash reserves of £14.9 million to see it through the disruption.
In a statement, Lord Mervyn Davis, LTA’s chairman, said: “It is too early to fully assess what implications the pandemic will have on tennis in Britain, but the financial governance measure we have in place will help ensure we are in the strongest position we can be to address the challenges that may come.
“Our goal will be to provide the right support, for the right people, at the right time, so that tennis in Britain emerges from this period in as strong and healthy position as possible, and the sport is able to resume its unique role in keeping the nation active.”
The LTA opted to utilise the UK government’s furlough scheme for around 50 per cent of its staff in April. Between 50 to 55 employees have been furloughed, with the LTA topping up the remaining 20 per cent of staff salaries.
Executive staff have cut their pay by 20 per cent.
The LTA said the financial outlook for both Wimbledon and the LTA will be decided by the conclusion of the insurance process, with Wimbledon’s surplus expected to be lower in 2020.
The LTA said: “Whilst the LTA delivered a profit for 2019, the current outlook for 2020 and beyond will be very different due to the financial impact of the current pandemic.
“Our responsibility is to protect the long-term growth and future of the sport in Britain and our reserves in isolation, can only support the short-term needs of the sport at this time.
“The government furlough scheme is an essential measure to assist organisations, including the LTA, manage such cash-flow constraints and to safeguard jobs in the future.”
Meanwhile, RTVE, the public-service broadcaster in Spain, has secured the TV rights to a new men’s domestic tennis tournament organised by RFET, the Spanish Tennis Federation, and sponsored by insurance company Mapfre.
The four-round La Liga Mapfre Tennis circuit, created to aid Spanish ATP players during the shutdown of tournaments worldwide, is scheduled to run from 10 July to 2 August and held in stadiums across Spain.
RTVE’s free-to-air sports channel Teledeporte will broadcast at least five live matches from each of the four rounds.
The first round will be held at Club Tennis Lleida in Spain’s north-eastern Catalonia region on 10 July, with the next three rounds hosted in Madrid, Alicante and Aviles.