The board of the ATP, the organisers of the top men’s tennis tour, has approved several aspects of a strategic plan to significantly redesign the structure of the tour, its chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has said in a letter to players.

An increase in the number of 12-day Masters 1000 events (the top-tier level of tournaments played), and new arrangements concerning how prize money is shared out, are some of the changes, as well as a “new profit-sharing formula.”

Other changes, including on issues such as governance and media rights, will be voted on during the remainder of the 2021 season, the governing body has said.

The point regarding the 12-day Masters 1000 events relates to a part of the ATP’s ‘Strategic Plan’ that was put before players last year and advocates turning events in Roma, Madrid, Canada, Cincinnati, and Shanghai into extra 12-day events. 

There would also be a 2.5 per cent increase in prize money, Gaudenzi has said, plus a bonus pool with a 50 per cent share of all collective profit generated by the Masters events.

Additionally, the plan calls for changes to ATP Media, the organising body’s broadcast arm which is owned jointly by the tour itself and by each of the Masters' events. 

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The changes in this respect would involve, reportedly, all tournaments on the tour pooling their rights and therefore securing their own separate share in ATP Media. 

The Tour would then create another independent entity, which would centralise data rights. 

Gaudenzi has said these changes will result in significant increases in the revenue the ATP generates from the sale of broadcast and data rights. 

An initial vote on all these changes by the seven-person ATP Board – comprising the chairman, three tournament representatives, and three player representatives – was due before the start of the Wimbledon Championships in the UK in July, but was then postponed when the Professional Tennis Players Association asked for more details.

The second phase of the ATP’s strategic plan calls for further integration with the WTA (the ATP’s women’s equivalent), and the organisers of tennis’ four Grand Slam events, in the UK, France, Australia, and the US. 

Earlier this year, the ATP and WTA moved one step closer to a potential merger after combining their marketing operations.

The ATP and WTA officially transitioned to an integrated marketing operation in January, building on what the respective organisations called an “unprecedented collaboration between the tours over the past 18 months.”

Under the alignment, the tours said “key leadership roles across social media, digital and branding are now responsible for maximising engagement through joint storytelling and creating efficiencies on key projects.”

The ATP and WTA recently secured joint-brand partnerships with TopCourt, the digital tennis learning platform, and the online game Tennis Clash.

The unified division is being led by Dan Ginger, who was recently appointed as senior vice-president of brand and marketing.

Calls for the ATP and WTA to merge intensified last year as the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the sport, both in terms of its calendar and finances.

The issue has been a major talking point in tennis with leading figures such as Roger Federer and Billie Jean King publicly calling for a merger and saying it is the right juncture to consider even closer ties.

Notably, Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA, also gave his support to a joined operation, admitting it “makes all the sense in the world.”

There have long been calls for a merger of the ATP and WTA but talks have rarely progressed beyond potential joint selling of television rights to events.

It is anticipated that a merger could make the process of securing broadcast deals and sponsorships easier for all parties by bringing commercial activity under one roof.