LTA announces £30m revenue shortfall due to Covid-19

The cancellation of most of the regular summer tournaments, including Queen’s, has been felt heavily

Credit: ACTION IMAGES

As the All England Club prepare to announce the results of Wimbledon’s pandemic insurance, their counterparts at the Lawn Tennis Association have revealed a £30m shortfall in revenues for 2020 as a result of Covid-19. This represents a drop of around 40 per cent, compared to a normal year.

The losses – which will significantly reduce the LTA’s turnover from its usual figure of around £75m – are largely accounted for by the cancellation of most of the regular summer tournaments, including Queen’s, Eastbourne and Birmingham.

But British tennis is relatively well insulated against the worst effects of the pandemic, thanks largely to the foresight of Wimbledon’s committees. They insisted on maintaining the “communicable disease” clause in their annual cancellation insurance, despite a cost in the low seven figures per annum.

The AELTC expect to know how much money the insurance will cover by early December. They have already outlined three different scenarios for next summer’s Wimbledon – a full tournament, reduced capacity or closed doors – but this week’s encouraging news about a highly effective Pfizer vaccine has lifted hopes that 2021 could go ahead in relatively normal fashion.

For now, the LTA are taking out a £15m loan to cover this summer’s shortfall, and sending around 15 per cent of their staff back into furlough. They do have the luxury of roughly £30m in reserves, plus another £40-45m which is ringfenced by the LTA Trust and earmarked for construction projects.

The LTA’s turnover is significantly smaller than that of the Football Association, which stands at close to £500m. Meanwhile rugby and cricket both stand somewhere around £200-250m. Chief executive Scott Lloyd cited this disparity in a statement that spoke of a “prudent” approach at a time of uncertainty.

“We have to bear in mind that whatever form [next year’s] events go ahead in,” said Lloyd, “it is likely the economic outlook will remain difficult and the market for sponsorship and hospitality will remain depressed for a number of years.”

Meanwhile the fight to qualify for next week’s ATP Finals goes on for Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, who must win this week’s final regular-season event in Sofia to give themselves even an outside chance of claiming the eighth and last spot at London’s O2 Arena.

Murray and Skupski sailed through their quarter-final with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 win over Radu Albot and Artem Sitak. They will play again on Friday, and need to win that one, while also relying on Marin Cilic and Tomislav Brkic to beat their main rivals Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the other semi-final.