Counting the price of empty stands

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Tennis has limped again to some semblance of normality after final yr’s prolonged disruption as a result of COVID-19 pandemic however stakeholders worry taking part in tournaments in entrance of empty stands may not be sustainable for lengthy.

The skilled circuit was shut down for 5 months in 2020 earlier than match organisers arrange biosecure bubbles for gamers and help workers whereas holding followers away from stadiums.

The disruption has been much less extreme in 2021 however tournaments, barring the swing in Australia in February, proceed to be performed in entrance of a handful of followers at finest.

The absence of spectators has not simply robbed tournaments of environment and sapped the power of gamers who thrive on it, however has additionally had a savage influence on funds.

Big losses

ATP tournaments incurred losses of between $60 and $80 million final yr, harm by last-minute cancellations, a wipe-out of ticketing income in absence of spectators and a 30% drop in proceeds from sponsorships.

And, with the added burden of expenditure on well being protocols, has led to a discount in prize cash all the way down to 50% of ranges earlier than the pandemic.

“With all of the estimates that now we have finished, we expect we are able to maintain this yr,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi instructed Reuters.

Gaudenzi stated sponsorship income plunged about 30% on common for the reason that begin of the pandemic, with the Masters 1000 occasions — the extent under the Grand Slams — counting on ticket gross sales for 45% of their proceeds.

Herwig Straka, one in all three members of the ATP board representing match homeowners, stated the decision on whether or not to proceed operating occasions with out followers might come all the way down to a enterprise determination.

“It’s about discovering the proper stability between sufficient prize cash for gamers, particularly for lower-ranked gamers to outlive, and in addition for tournaments to proceed,” Straka stated.

Query of survival

“And clearly for the smaller tournaments this problem is larger. So not solely as a enterprise but additionally as a sport we positively want spectators to return ahead of later …we can not survive with out having spectators.”

The boys’s governing physique will spend as much as $5.2 million — primarily taken from the bonus pool for the highest 12 eligible gamers on the finish of season — to spice up prize cash at its occasions till Wimbledon.

Gaudenzi stated that even within the worst case state of affairs, the ATP was nonetheless monitoring to ship 2021 prize cash ranges of about $180 million, 23% lower than 2019.

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