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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 10:49 GMT
Queen's chief issues cash warning
Ian Wight (left) and Lleyton Hewitt
Wight (left) has been keen to attract big names to his tournament
Rising appearance fees risk "squeezing the lifeblood" out of tennis, the tournament director of the Stella Artois event at Queen's has claimed.

Ian Wight told the Lawn Tennis Writers' Association annual dinner in London that guarantees being paid to players were getting out of control.

Wright admitted: "We are all guilty of putting self-interest ahead of the commercial future of tennis.

"Player appearance fees have reached levels that beggar belief."

We have to manage our tournaments better to improve the incentives and player commitment

ATP tour chairman Etienne de Villiers

Having persuaded world number two Rafael Nadal to commit to playing at Queen's for two years, Wight confessed he is as guilty as anyone else.

But told his audience of players, writers and tournament organisers that self-interest was threatening the long-term health of the sport.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are killing our game," he said.

"It is the economics of the madhouse that a player can receive more than three times the prize money not for winning a tournament but just for turning up."

ATP tour chairman Etienne de Villiers was in the audience for the speech.

He said the issue of guaranteed payments should be addressed, but he felt Wight's concerns were over-stated.

"We have tracked guarantees as an overall percentage of prize money and they are regularly between 25 and 30%," he said.

"It is impossible to stop the practice in the same way you can't stop people opening the fridge to see what's inside

"We are introducing measures we hope will allow us to understand the practice better.

"Yes, we have to manage our tournaments better to improve the incentives and player commitment.

"Doing that, you will bring the situation involving guarantees back into some kind of equilibrium. What I must emphasise, though, is that this is not a huge crisis."

SEE ALSO
Nadal set to make Queen's debut
19 Oct 05 |  Tennis


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