Novak Djokovic, the President of the ATP Council has, in alliance with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer proposed a financial aid package for lower ranked players on the Tour. (Pic: Vaibhav Raghunandan)
The three governing bodies of tennis and the four Grand Slams are in the middle of finalising a multi-million dollar financial assistance package for lower-ranked players. According to reports, aid packages worth at least $6 million are anticipated to be announced later this week.
When a player applies for support, their ranking along with previous earnings and other subsidiary incomes will be taken into consideration. These complex discussions started shortly after the suspension of professional tennis due to the Covid-19 pandemic on March 12.
However, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal hope that the top 100 singles and top 20 doubles players will provide a separate $1 million fund for male players ranked outside of the top 250.
In a letter, Djokovic, the president of the ATP council, suggested donations be allocated on a sliding scale. The world top five, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev would make a contribution of $30,000 each and those ranked between 51 and 100 would contribute $5000 each.
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The big challenge though is to persuade some top 100 players without no income at present -- many of whom may have climbed into the top 100 for the first time in their careers -- to give away $5000 each.
The men’s and women’s professional tennis tours have said that they will administer a player relief fund to help sports persons dealing with the after effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ATP and WTA are in discussion with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the four Grand Slam tournaments but there have been no facts provided about the amount of money they are putting together and distributing. They said they "look forward to finalising and sharing the further details of a plan in due course.''
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Due to the coronavirus outbreak, pro tennis has been in limbo since early March and there are no tournaments that will be played before the mid of July at the earliest. The French Open has been postponed from May to September whereas Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time in 75 years.
This has had repercussions at the lower levels of the tour. Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava, the world’s 375th ranked women’s singles player, started a petition seeking financial assistance from the ITF while also pleading with the body to communicate better with the lower-ranked professionals last month. In response, the ITF has also announced the creation of player panels for those competing on its World Tennis Tour.
“The panel will provide a forum for players to provide their input and have their say on how the tour is run and will be a further opportunity for the ITF to engage with the player community,” the London-based governing body said.
According to new projections from Two Circle, a sports marketing agency, around 26,424 sporting events will be held by the end of 2020 with the possibility of more sports events getting cancelled. The financial impact will be massive, with an estimated $73.7 billion revenue expected from events in 2020, a huge drop from the $129 billion generated in 2019.
Revenue projections for this year have also taken a hit because cancellation of live sport has stopped broadcaster money -- the biggest cash inflow in the industry -- from coming in. To counter the effects of cancellations and postponements, many leagues and countries have actually contemplated putting sport back into empty stadiums, as early as May. The Bundesliga has contemplated starting the league in May behind closed doors.
The idea for this is clear. Cash flow needs to come from broadcasters, to prop up the economy. Two Circles CEO, Gareth Balch, subtly hinted at this in his own statement. "Compared to most other industries, in recent times of economic adversity sports has proven to be recession-resilient,” he said. “Whilst live sports is halted, every corner of the sports industry will continue to feel this significant financial pain, but we are certain that it returns, whether that's behind-closed-doors or with full houses, sports' economy will thrive once again.”
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