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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Cash demands undermine grass roots
With leading men's players threatening to boycott Grand Slam tournaments unless they get more prize money, BBC Sport takes a hard look at the figures.

Wimbledon, like the other three Grand Slams, claims to be a not-for-profit tournament which aims to put money back into the grass roots of the game.

The tournaments are reluctant to reveal their revenue but The Times newspaper estimates that more than $400m is made from all four events.

Of that, expenditure is less than $240m, leaving an overall estimated profit of $165m.

GRAND SLAM PRIZE FUNDS IN 2003
Australian Open: £6.99m. Men and women's champs: £433,000
French Open: £9.004m.
Men's champ: £579,860. Women's champ: £565,364
Wimbledon: £9,373,990.
Men's champ: £575,000. Women's champ: £535,000
US Open: £10,782,000.
Men and women's champs: £600,000
The Grand Slams argue that their priority is pouring that profit back into developing tennis.

In the case of Wimbledon, which makes the most profit, that argument tends to fall fairly flat when Britain's Lawn Tennis Association can boast only one world-class player in 10 years.

In fact, the surplus received by the LTA has decreased in recent years - last year it fell £6m to £25,626,034, its lowest figure since 1994 - while prize money has steadily risen.

This year's Wimbledon prize fund is £9,373,990, 6.2% more than last year, and the men's singles champion will receive £575,000.

Even first-round losers walk away with a hefty £8,630.

And at this year's US Open, the men's and women's champion will receive $1m for the first time.

But a rebel group of more than 120 ATP players want more.

HOW WIMBLEDON PRIZES HAVE CHANGED
1968 Rod Laver: £2,000. Billie Jean King: £750
1980: Bjorn Borg: £20,000. Evonne Cawley: £18,000
1993: Pete Sampras: £305,000. Steffi Graf: £275,000

They argue they are the main draw and therefore deserve more than, in Wimbledon's case, a prize fund that is less than a third of the event's profit, let alone its (undisclosed) turnover.

The ATP are backing the players and are asking for up to 30% of revenue from the Grand Slams - which they say they would spend on pension funds, promotion, drug testing and prize money.

They are threatening to start a rival 'charity' tournament in America instead and boycott one of the Grand Slams should ongoing talks with the four Grand Slam chairmen come to nothing.

The two parties have already clashed over the thorny issue of finance, with the Grand Slam representatives unanimously rejecting the ATP's claim for a $50m share of the profits at this year's French Open.

For the ATP, though, it is an issue they are unlikely to back down on.

The organisation was rocked two years ago when marketing group ISL collapsed.

The ATP had entered into a 10-year deal with ISL for the marketing of the nine Masters Series events - not only was it a huge embarrassment when it foundered, it also cost them an estimated £715m.

That left the ATP to find sponsorship in a financial climate in which companies were unwilling to commit large sums of money to sporting events - and with tennis a fair way down sport¿s popularity league.

Without the money from sponsorship, prize money suffered and the players gradually realised they were losing out.

Mark Miles, chief executive of the ATP, insists there is much more talking to be done before a boycott becomes reality.

But what is certain is that the players' gripes are unlikely to find any sympathetic ears among the sport's fans - particularly those who spent Sunday night sleeping on a pavement before handing over £28 for a precious Centre Court ticket.





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Wimbledon faces 2004 boycott
23 Jun 03  |  Wimbledon 2003

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