Spanish city Valencia will continue to host a group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, the season-ending national teams tennis tournament, until 2026 after striking a partnership renewal with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) governing body.

The new contract, announced on Friday (March 24), was agreed directly between the Valencia City Council and the ITF following the sudden termination of the governing body's commercial rights partnership with Kosmos Tennis, the Spanish investment group and former organizer of the tournament, earlier this year.  

As part of the partnership, the Spanish city retains the rights to host a group stage of the finals until 2026, with an option to take on the latter knockout stage of the competition in 2024, 2025, and 2026.

Valencia was first announced as a group-stage host last April by Kosmos Tennis for the tournament’s 2022 edition, joining Bologna (Italy), Glasgow (Scotland), and Hamburg (Germany). The Spanish city of Malaga was announced as the host to the knockout stage for 2022 and 2023.

Javier Mateo, Valencia’s councilor for sports, said: “This agreement guarantees greater legal security and demonstrates Valencia’s commitment to host international events that leave a legacy in the city.

“In addition, we leave the window open for an opportunity to be able to host the final of the Davis Cup in the future if all the factors align and the interests of both parties coincide.”

The new deal comes after the ITF announced its 25-year, $3-billion partnership with Kosmos, founded by Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique, was ending after only five years amid a fees dispute in January.

At the time, it was reported Kosmos failed to pay an annual fee of €40 million ($43.5 million) to the ITF and had requested to renegotiate the amount due to low profitability. After the ITF refused, Kosmos terminated its contract, with the governing body taking over the management of this year’s Davis Cup on its own.

The ITF struck the deal with Kosmos in 2018 to revamp the ailing men’s national teams tournament, with Kosmos pledging to invest $120 million per year into the tournament and $25 million per year into tennis development globally.

The deal saw Kosmos take over commercial rights to the Davis Cup Finals, including organizing host cities, sponsorship, and broadcast agreements, as well as guaranteeing the prize for players.

However, Kosmos largely failed to deliver on its promises.

Since ending the contract, both Kosmos and the ITF have said they are taking legal action against the other, with Kosmos confirming it had submitted a claim for damages against the ITF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), citing “unjustified termination” of its contract.

The ITF, meanwhile, is also reportedly preparing legal action against Kosmos for having broken its contract and for “accumulated debts and damages, and damages for the poor image given off by the end of said agreement.”

The last three editions (2019, 2021, and 2022) Kosmos presided over were dogged by issues including low attendances and scheduling difficulties, as well as top players choosing to skip the event. The 2020 edition was postponed due to the pandemic.

Its decision to revamp the tournament’s traditional home-and-away format to just one home-and-away round of ties followed by 18 teams competing in one city for a week-long, season-ending tournament also came under heavy criticism by former legends Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt.

The ITF said it will run the 2023 event on its own and evaluate the future of the tournament’s commercial model going forward.

In October last year, the ATP, organizer of the top men’s tennis tour, announced a partnership with Kosmos Tennis and the ITF to “maximize the success” of the Davis Cup, with the three groups collaborating on the competition’s governance and evolution.

As part of the partnership, the Davis Cup Qualifiers and Finals will be an official part of the ATP Tour calendar from the 2023 season, taking place in weeks 5, 37, and 47, allowing players to better plan their schedules.

Image: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images