SBD/September 12, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ATP Players, Led By Federer, Apply Pressure On Grand Slam Events To Raise Prize Money

Federer leads players seeking larger share of Grand Slam revenue
Top ATP World Tour players, led by Roger Federer, remain “intent on applying pressure on the Grand Slam tournaments over prize money next year, beginning with the Australian Open,” according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. Australian Open Tournament Dir Craig Tiley said, “I think as a group, they’ve been led by Roger, who is very intelligent and measured in this. Anytime you can have a player council represented by arguably one of the great players of all time, you’re going to have some strength.” Clarey notes ATP players are “seeking much more than another routine pay raise,” as they want to “capitalize on the narrow window provided by their golden age and current solidarity to correct what they perceive as a long-running inequity.” The players are “believed to be asking" for between 12-13% of total revenue. With the Grand Slams “committed to equal prize money, that means -- with the women along for the ride -- the men are effectively demanding about 25 percent of total revenue for prize money.” A 25% share would be “more in line with men’s tour events." Based on estimates, prize money “currently ranges" from about 11% of revenue at the U.S. Open to about 17% at the Australian Open. At the U.S. Open, a 25% share “would mean a hike in prize money" from about $25M to more than $60M. Tennis officials said that players are “offering little change of their own in return." If the players "fail to reach their prize-money goal next year, they are considering a range of potential actions.” Those include “staging alternative events concurrent with the Grand Slam tournaments, stripping ranking points from the Grand Slam tournaments and skipping the Grand Slam tournaments altogether.” A formal boycott “appears not to be an option because of antitrust laws.” A “huge player pay raise could force staff and program cuts and jeopardize the viability" of the USTA’s plans for a $500M upgrade of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (N.Y. TIMES, 9/12).
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