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SBD Global/April 30, 2014/Finance

Wimbledon Prize Money Increases For Losers, Total Prize Fund Grows By 10.8%

Wimbledon has increased prize money by 10.8%.
Whoever succeeds Andy Murray "as men's singles champion" at Wimbledon will collect £1.76M ($2.96M) from a prize fund which has grown 10.8% from last year, according to Simon Briggs of the London TELEGRAPH. The increases "were skewed in favour of the less successful players" -- a trend of the past few years -- so that those who lose in the first round this summer will receive £27,000 ($45,000). In '11, the equivalent figure was just £11,000. Tennis is moving toward a situation where, if "you add up the proceeds from the four grand slams," a player on the fringes of the top 100 could soon be breaking £100,000 ($168,000) per annum "without winning a match." The overall prize pot totals £25M ($42M) (TELEGRAPH, 4/29). In London, Neil Harman reported in skewing the increases further to those who are lower down the pay scale, Wimbledon Chair Philip Brook said the club "understand and appreciate the difficulties for all players." The cash available for first-round losers has risen by 135% over the last three years. There may be those who argue that Wimbledon is "rewarding relative mediocrity" -- with a 12.5% increase at all three stages of the qualifying competition at Roehampton. But the All England Lawn Tennis Club has countered by saying that players who have reached this level "have shown a real talent for the sport and should not be discriminated against." All England Club CEO Richard Lewis said that any Wimbledon qualifier "ranks among the sport's elite and merits increased reward." Lewis "dismissed the notion that players are happy to pick up their significant first-round losers cheques." Lewis: "I slightly take issue with the notion that players will turn up and lose" (LONDON TIMES, 4/29). REUTERS' Martyn Herman reported apart from the prize money increases, "progress on redevelopment work around the leafy south west London site was also outlined, including the planned roof over Court No.1." Design work "is still being done on a retractable roof for the second showcourt with the structure, which will use the same material as that on the translucent Centre Court roof." It is "expected to be in place for the start of the 2019 tournament, pending planning consent." Work "would include installing an extra 900 seats for the court, taking the capacity to 12,400" (REUTERS, 4/29). BLOOMBERG's Danielle Rossingh reported the All England Club also said Stella Artois has "become its official beer brand for the two-week championships." Brook said Wimbledon is “aware” of an increase in early-round withdrawals since the four tennis majors started boosting prize money in those sections of the draw. Brook said, “We have been monitoring for a number of years the number of withdrawals -- not just at Wimbledon but also in other Grand Slam tournaments. We’re not seeing any particular increase which we might link to an increase in prize money. But it’s also true to say that there are instances at every Grand Slam tournament of players who are perhaps coming onto court not entirely fit” (BLOOMBERG, 4/29).

INCREASE LESS THAN '13: In London, Mike Dickson reported the rises "were not as jaw-dropping as last year’s," which hit 40% overall and in some instances were up as much as 60%. That was "in response to threats from the senior players" such as Roger Federer that there could actually be a boycott of a Slam if more revenue was not shared with the players. That danger "has gone away, but the players will still be handsomely rewarded." What it does not address is "the crisis level of prize money at the lower tiers of the game which feeds into events like Wimbledon." While "not the All England Club’s fault, it remains an embarrassment for the sport as a whole that the rewards for those up and coming players at Futures and Challenger level have barely moved in 30 years" (DAILY MAIL, 4/29). Also in London, Chris Jones reported the Wimbledon surplus -- which largely funds the Lawn Tennis Association -- reached a record high of £37.8M in '12. However, the figure dropped to £35.1M last year due to the 40% increase in prize money. Tuesday’s increase for the tournament, which runs from June 23 to July 6, "puts added pressure on the LTA to generate funds to cover for the subsequent drop in revenue from the Championships" (EVENING STANDARD, 4/29).
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