A statement from the LTA said the money will "aid those who have been most severely affected by the pandemic" with the focus on protecting the grassroots. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The Lawn Tennis Association has pledged a 20 million pound (USD 24 million) rescue package to protect the sport's grassroots in Britain during the coronavirus. Just two days after Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II, the LTA announced their cash injection will go to tennis venues, coaches, officials and players in Britain affected by the pandemic. A statement from the LTA said the money will "aid those who have been most severely affected by the pandemic" with the focus on protecting the grassroots, although there is also support available to the professional game.
After the cancellation of their most lucrative tournament -- the Wimbledon warm-up at Queen's Club -- LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd and members of the executive team will take a 20 per cent pay cut, while a number of staff are expected to be furloughed from next week. "The first priority at this time is the health and wellbeing of everybody, and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the coronavirus," Lloyd said on Friday. "Our sport is far from exempt from its impact, and this pandemic has the potential to put the continued future growth of tennis at significant risk. We know that many involved in tennis in Britain are concerned about their futures and are facing significant challenges, and so our primary objective in announcing these unprecedented measures is to ensure clubs and venues remain viable and coaches and officials are not lost to the sport." The cancellation of Wimbledon means that the tennis season will not resume until July 13 at the earliest.
Forced to cancel Wimbledon for the first time since World War II on Wednesday, All England Club chiefs can at least breathe a sigh of relief that the chaos caused by the coronavirus should not take a heavy toll on their finances. The historic decision to write off the world's most famous tennis tournament due to the pandemic left eight-time champion Roger Federer "devastated" and seven-time winner Serena Williams shocked and shaken. Yet, the tennis world agreed it was the right move at a time when the health services are under unbearable strain and countries across the globe are in lockdown.
Wimbledon's cancellation caused by the coronavirus should not take a heavy toll on their finances. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Wimbledon, which had been scheduled between June 29 and July 12, should return in 2021 once the coronavirus is controlled, leaving the club hierarchy to focus on dealing with the financial fall-out from cancelling the 134th Championships. French Open bosses this week admitted their tournament could face losses of GBP 230 million if it is not played this year. The clay-court event has been moved to late September from its original start date in late May.
In contrast, Wimbledon should be shielded from the worst effects of cancellation. The All England Club had the foresight to take out extensive insurance which will protect it from the kind of huge losses potentially faced by Roland Garros. One senior figure at the All England Club told the Daily Mail the cost of the insurance was "around the low seven figures". That will prove good value, if it can guard Wimbledon from long-term damage.