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Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 11:47 UK

LTA agrees 25m sponsorship deal

Andy Murray
Roger Draper said it is an "exciting time" for British tennis

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced a five-year sponsorship deal believed to be in the region of 25m with a financial services company.

The deal, the biggest in British tennis history, will run from 2009 to 2013.

LTA chief executive Roger Draper said AEGON's support would help support elite young players and improve tennis facilities in parks and schools.

As a "lead partner" the company will hold the naming rights to major tournaments, including Queen's Club.

The famed June grasscourt tournament, which takes place shortly before Wimbledon, will become the AEGON Championships, while the Eastbourne and Edgbaston events, held in June, will also be renamed.

Draper added: "This is a unique eight-figure deal. We are delighted that AEGON has joined us as the Lead Partner of British Tennis in what is a very exciting time for the sport.

All concerned are desperate that by 2013, the country has more to show for it than just one top-50 player

BBC Radio 5 Live tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend
"AEGON will be involved in all areas that make up British tennis - the community programme, our competitive programme, which has been our number one priority over the past few years, our major event programme and our performance programmes."

The investment is a major coup for the LTA during a time when questions hang over some sporting sponsorships because of the financial downturn.

Many doubted that the governing body would be able attract a major investor when, in May 2008, the LTA announced it was seeking a lead partner.

But Andy Murray's rise to world number four, the popularity of Wimbledon and the potential of Laura Robson, the 14-year-old Wimbledon girls' singles champion, are believed to be contributing factors which have helped persuade the company to invest in the sport's future.

LTA president Stuart Smith said: "This is a sea-change for British tennis. At the top-end of the game we are seeing some signs of success, but we have a very long way to go.

"It is going in the right direction. Moving from the top of the game right down through the game we are now looking in much more detail at the counties and the clubs and the Tennis Foundation that is dealing with our community activities in schools and parks.

"I really believe this is an exciting time for British tennis. I think things are getting better and today is a really exciting time for us."

And BBC Radio 5 Live tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend says the investment now puts pressure on the LTA to deliver.

"The Edinburgh-based company is clearly attracted by the profile of Andy Murray and the LTA is keen to build on his success to promote and expand the popularity of the game," he said.

"But this is yet more investment in British tennis in addition to the 25m per year from Wimbledon profits and all concerned are desperate that by 2013, the country has more to show for it than just one top-50 player.

"Roger Draper is right to focus on the grassroots. Over the last two years a lot of money, perhaps too much money, has been spent right at the very top level trying to get a quick fix for British tennis.

"One example of that was the decision to give an expensive world class coach in Brad Gilbert to the distinctly average Alex Bogdanovic.

"Britain will only really become a great nation if there is a sustainable structure from the grassroots level upwards and that does take investment.

"The only way is up for British tennis and this could be an exciting few years if this money is correctly invested."

see also
Game, set and cash at Wimbledon
23 Jun 08 |  Business
Murray warns British youngsters
25 Sep 07 |  Tennis

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Sky Sports LTA excited by new sponsor - 20 hrs ago
The Sun BRITISH tennis will receive a 25million windfall during the next five years - 28 hrs ago
Independent New sponsorship deal for Draper's transformed LTA - 33 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited New 25m deal marks 'sea change' in game - 34 hrs ago
Sky News Murray Factor Helps Net Tennis Deal - 42 hrs ago


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