Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 19 News List

All England Club, LTA ink US$82m Wimbledon deal

AP , LONDON

Wimbledon organizers will pay £55 million (US$82 million) to regain total control of the All England Club, buying back the 50 percent it gave away in 1934.

The money will be paid to Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in installments over a likely five-year period from 2013 after the existing agreement expires, All England Club chairman Tim Phillips told reporters on Wednesday.

“The new arrangement would certainly be mutually beneficial for British tennis and for Wimbledon,” Phillips said. “We get our grounds back and then we can decide what we do with it and be in charge of our own destiny, while it secures investment in British tennis for the next 40 years until 2053.”

“It’s also clearly helpful for us to have British players coming through to maintain the high level of interest in tennis in the country,” he said.

The last British man to win the singles title at Wimbledon was Fred Perry in 1936. Virginia Wade was the last women’s champion in 1977.

Under the 40-year deal, which will go to a vote on Dec. 10, the All England Club will begin keeping 10 percent of the profits instead of giving it all to the LTA, the governing body of British tennis. This year’s tournament generated a profit of £25.677 million, which was given to the LTA.

Phillips also said he was confident that Wimbledon would not be severely hampered by the global economic crisis. A quarter of the key sponsorship arrangements expire within the next couple of years, but all major television deals are in place and don’t need to be renewed imminently.

“We are in a better position than most and we are in the happy position where demand [for tickets] exceeds supply here,” Phillips said. “And the rump of the expenditure of building projects has already been done.”

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