SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2007/This Weeks News

Advantage, ladies, on tennis chief pay

The head of the women’s tennis tour earned more last year than his counterpart on the men’s circuit for the first time in the more than three decades the groups have existed.

Etienne de Villiers

While officials with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have long lobbied for equal prize money for its players, the group’s financial success in attracting TV and sponsorship deals has pushed Chief Executive Larry Scott’s compensation to more than $1 million with performance pay, sources said. Meanwhile, ATP Chairman Etienne de Villiers earned $763,966, according to the 2006 tax return the group filed with U.S. regulators last month (see chart).

De Villiers assumed his post in mid-2005, so the 2006 tax return marks the first public disclosure of his full pay. He earned $165,269 in 2005.

“Women’s tennis is in the best shape in the history of the WTA, and a lot of that is due to the hard work Larry Scott and his team have put into growing the organization,” said Billie Jean King, who founded the WTA in 1973. “It’s not a bad thing that the head of the WTA Tour is making more, or less, than the head of the ATP.”

While de Villiers has had some political stumbles in his short tenure, the tour financially has improved under his watch. Revenue jumped 42 percent to $53 million in 2006, driven by increases in licensing and sponsorships, according to the tax return. An ATP spokesman said some licensing income from 2005 was not reflected in that year’s tax return because it was housed in a for-profit entity, and the real revenue increase was $6.7 million, or a 16 percent jump from 2005 to 2006.

Still, the group earned $5.5 million in 2006, up from $3.7 million, and the gap would have been wider except the ATP spent nearly $13 million buying back sanctions from tournaments in 2006. In 2005, it spent $3.6 million.

Several of the ATP’s top executives saw notable bumps in pay during 2006, a reflection of the added responsibilities they inherited with the implementation of a new corporate structure two years ago, when then-Chief Executive Mark Miles resigned. ATP COO Philip Galloway earned $520,275 in 2006, a 65 percent increase from 2005, while general counsel Mark Young saw a 51 percent surge, to $477,287.

Horst Klosterkemper, who took his post as head of the European division in the middle of 2005, earned $676,819 in 2006.

It wasn’t long ago that the suggestion that the head of the WTA might make more money than the ATP’s chieftain would have sparked derision. In 1998, the pay of then-WTA chief Bart McGuire was one-third that of ATP boss Miles.

Scott has secured for the WTA its title sponsorship deal with Sony Ericsson and a host of lower-level sponsors. He also has renewed a major TV pact with EuroSport.

Scott’s base pay is lower than that of de Villiers, but performance incentives have pushed his overall take into the seven figures, sources said. Still, his pay is far from the top of the list when compared with other league commissioners. The PGA Tour’s Tim Finchem rakes in more than $3 million a year. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig earned $14.5 million in 2005.

The chief executive of professional tennis at the U.S. Tennis Association, Arlen Kantarian, is thought to earn more than $3 million annually. The USTA, which owns the U.S. Open, does not disclose his pay in its public return. Compensation of Executive Director Lee Hamilton was given as $788,400 for 2005.

2006 pay of top ATP executives
Title Name Pay
Chairman Etienne de Villiers $763,966
President, Europe Horst Klosterkemper $676,819
Chief operating officer Philip Galloway $520,275
General counsel Mark Young $477,287
CEO, International Brad Drewett $400,275
Source: ATP 2006 Form 990

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