ATP Approves Raft of Adjustments to Share Tennis’s Wealth
PARIS — The ATP, which runs the boys’s skilled tennis tour, has accredited a big package deal of adjustments that embody profit-sharing between tournaments and gamers and making 5 extra of the tour’s top-line Masters 1000 occasions larger and longer.
Andrea Gaudenzi, an Italian and former star participant, mapped out a lot of this long-term plan when he utilized to change into chairman of the ATP, taking up the submit in the beginning of 2020.
It has taken practically two and a half years to get the package deal accredited due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in addition to the myriad tensions and fiefs throughout the sport.
“This has been a very long time coming, and to me, it’s a giant step towards the gamers and the tournaments working extra in alignment and extra within the spirit of the partnership, which is precisely how the ATP was designed many years in the past,” mentioned Todd Martin, a former top-five singles participant and ATP Participant Council president who’s now the chief government of the Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame.
The ATP is an uncommon, usually unwieldy partnership in skilled sport between labor and administration: Gamers and event homeowners have equal illustration on the board of administrators and the flexibility to dam one another’s initiatives.
This construction has made change tough and typically excruciatingly gradual in a fragmented sport that additionally has six different governing our bodies: the WTA; the Worldwide Tennis Federation; and the 4 Grand Slam tournaments, which function independently from one another and the excursions and generate greater than 80 p.c of the income in skilled tennis.
The brand new ATP package deal, set to be introduced Thursday, tries to shut a few of that hole by strengthening different tournaments and to shut ranks throughout the males’s tour, which has been divided by inside dissent. Novak Djokovic, at the moment the No. 1 males’s singles participant, spearheaded the creation of the Skilled Tennis Gamers Affiliation in 2020 with the objective of making extra negotiating energy for the gamers and increasing the variety of gamers capable of earn a dwelling on tour.
However most prime males’s stars, together with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, have refused to again the P.T.P.A., and all three are a part of the ATP Participant Council, which was instrumental to getting the brand new adjustments accredited.
It’s a wide-ranging plan that additionally creates stricter guidelines on battle of curiosity for board members and enhancing participant situations throughout tournaments. However the important thing adjustments come all the way down to sharing.
The ATP will mixture event rights into ATP Media, the tour’s gross sales, manufacturing and distribution arm. For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments, the 9 prime occasions on the common males’s tour that embody the Miami Open and BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., will share a proportion of income from ATP Media with the lower-category tournaments often called ATP 500s and ATP 250s. The 500s and 250s may even have assured illustration on an expanded board of administrators.
For the primary time, the Masters 1000 tournaments will permit absolutely impartial auditing and grant the gamers a share of earnings on prime of the bottom prize cash.
“We mentioned, ‘Let’s begin actually on the root of the issue,’ which is the dearth of belief between gamers and tournaments,” Gaudenzi mentioned in a phone interview. “And all these fights that yearly happen and take 80 to 90 p.c of our time and power and sources and are all about 1 p.c, 2 p.c, 3 p.c of prize cash.”
Gaudenzi mentioned the profit-sharing deal, just like the ATP plan as a complete, would run for 30 years from 2023 to 2053 and referred to as for assured prize cash will increase of two.5 p.c every year on the Masters 1000 occasions. After the multilevel auditing course of, gamers would get a proportion of earnings primarily based on their efficiency in all the Masters 1000 tournaments. If the tournaments lose cash, the bottom prize cash would stay the identical.
Gaudenzi mentioned the annual bonus pool additionally would enhance considerably, “focusing on $20 million” (up from about $11 million this yr), and could be paid out to 30 gamers as an alternative of the present 12.
In trade, the Masters 1000s are increasing. Till now, solely Miami and Indian Wells had been 12-day occasions with 96-player attracts. However starting subsequent yr, the tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Shanghai will develop to 11 or 12 days, and the Canadian Open and Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, are set to develop in 2025.
That would go away solely the Monte Carlo and Paris Masters as weeklong 1000-level occasions, however Gaudenzi mentioned the hope was to develop them and make them mixed males’s and girls’s tournaments.
“We try to supply extra days of premium leisure,” Gaudenzi mentioned.
He mentioned market analysis confirmed that roughly one billion followers adopted tennis to a point however that the overwhelming majority “solely checks in and checks out within the large matches” like “the semifinals and finals of Slams.”
He mentioned the objective was to create a much bigger core of 100 million followers who observe the game extra carefully year-round.
“The hole between the Slams and the Masters for my part is slightly bit too nice now for those who examine it to, say, golf,” Gaudenzi mentioned. “By way of success and prize cash, the majors and the PGA Tour are so much nearer, and we have to deliver that stage up as a result of we wish to give a story to followers from January to the ATP Finals on the finish of the yr.”
The growth of the Masters 1000s will create fallout, decreasing the accessible window for the smaller tournaments, significantly the ATP 250s, the bottom rung on the principle tour’s ladder.
“When the schedule will get compressed, you’re going to lose some 250s someplace,” mentioned Invoice Oakes, a former event director of a 250 in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Individuals are going to be pressured out, however I’ve talked to a number of event administrators who mentioned, ‘It’s not going to be me; it’s going to be the opposite man.’”
Gaudenzi mentioned attrition could be low however that the long-range objective was not merely to vary the ATP however to develop tennis as a complete by creating extra unified governance and safeguards. He added that he sought to keep away from conflicts just like the one this yr with Wimbledon, which barred Russian and Belarusian gamers from taking part in this summer time solely to see the ATP and WTA retaliate by stripping the event of rankings factors.
“It’s an unlucky scenario that causes a disruption to the gamers for positive and to everybody,” Gaudenzi mentioned. “The one factor I can say is, I hope that is the final time this ever occurs.”
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