A unique strategic and commercial partnership between the Squash Rackets Association (SRA), the sport’s English governing body, and intellectual property rights acquisition company Fablon Investments Ltd, will guarantee a seven-figure injection into squash in England over the next eight years to substantially raise the sport’s profile.

The ground-breaking agreement gives Fablon the commercial rights to the SRA’s leading events, including the world’s longest-established and most prestigious event, the British Open. A guaranteed cash prize fund in excess of ú1 million has been set for the British Open Squash Championships over the next eight years, with the 2000 British Open boasting a record ú110,000 cash prize fund.

The historic announcement was made today (Monday 13 March) at a press conference at London’s prestigious Queen’s Club, where the first women’s British Open was held in February 1922.

The additional SRA events included within Fablon’s acquisition agreement are the British Junior Open Championships, the world’s biggest junior event; the British Junior National Championships; the Inter County Championships; the National Club Championships; and the National Schools Championships.

Fablon is the major shareholder in Eye Group Ltd, a sports production and rights exploitation company. It was the Eye Group that stepped in at short notice to underwrite last year’s British Open, not only ensuring that the tournament maintained its place as one of the premier events in the world squash calendar, but also initiating unprecedented worldwide TV coverage.

Fablon are currently working with the Eye Group to ensure a successful exploitation of the first British Open of the new millennium, to be held in October.

‘This is an historic time for the Association,’ said SRA Chief Executive Stuart Courtney. ‘No longer do we have to worry about the financing of the British Open and all other SRA events throughout the period. It has taken a long time to reach this point, but this is the first time anyone has tried to put a value on our events. This funding also enables us to invest in important areas such as increasing our membership base and developing new events to appeal to a wider cross-section of players.’

Karl Oliver, a founding partner of Fablon, added: ‘It is essential that together with the SRA we significantly raise the profile of the game and secure exposure to a much wider audience commensurate with the international success enjoyed by English squash. We also consider it a priority to invest back into the game, particularly at grassroots level, to ensure a successful long-term future for English squash.’

Among the immediate priorities of the new partnership is to set up a working party to appraise the televisual presentation of the sport.

Issued on behalf of the Squash Rackets Association (SRA) by Howard Harding Associates
Tel: 01737-243333 Fax: 01737-222787 Email: HowHard@aol.com
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