LTA announces support package for those “most severely affected” in tennis

The Lawn Tennis Association has announced a package of support worth around £20million for tennis venues, coaches, officials and players in Britain affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from the LTA said the money will “aid those who have been most severely affected by the pandemic” with the focus on protecting the grassroots, although there is also support available to the professional game.

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd and members of the executive team will take a 20 per cent pay cut, while a number of staff are expected to be furloughed from next week.

Lloyd said: “The first priority at this time is the health and wellbeing of everybody, and our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the coronavirus.

“Our sport is far from exempt from its impact, and this pandemic has the potential to put the continued future growth of tennis at significant risk.

“We know that many involved in tennis in Britain are concerned about their futures and are facing significant challenges, and so our primary objective in announcing these unprecedented measures is to ensure clubs and venues remain viable and coaches and officials are not lost to the sport.”

The full package of support includes repayment holidays of six months for all existing LTA facility loans; a refund of registration fees for 2019/20; a £13.5million hardship fund for venues offering interest free loans up to £5,000; and financial support grants and interest-free loans for LTA accredited coaches and officials.

For the professional game, there will be continued funding for development centres and the two national academies; continued funding of grants to players on the LTA Player Pathway and Wheelchair World Class Programmes; and new support grants for British singles players ranked 101-750 on the ATP and WTA Tours, and for doubles players ranked 101-250 on the ATP and WTA tours.

Wimbledon File Photo
There will be no Wimbledon this year (PA)

The LTA said that “in return for some of the financial support grants and loans being provided, coaches, venues and players that benefit from the extra LTA support during this period will be asked to commit time to contribute back to the sport and their local communities, including undertaking activity to help open up tennis to more people in their local area once the sport is able to resume”.

The PA news agency understands staff expect to be told more about the number who might be furloughed next week. The LTA intends to top up the government’s scheme to ensure all affected staff receive 80 per cent of their base salary.

The LTA’s announcement comes in the same week that the All England Club announced the cancellation of Wimbledon this summer.

The ATP and WTA further extended their suspension of competition until July 13, affecting the ATP events planned at Queen’s and Eastbourne, and the WTA events in Nottingham and Birmingham this summer.

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