For the first time in Wimbledon history, the championships’ annual payments to the Lawn Tennis Association has scaled £50m as the LTA announced a strong financial standing amid the uncertainty brought by the coronavirus crisis.
The LTA’s financial statements for 2019 mark a significant turnaround after three years of planned losses, with the 2018 losses of £6.3m making way for an operating profit of £8.7m and revenue of £77m. Much of this turnaround is a reflection of the greater injection of money from Wimbledon, which posted a record surplus of £50.8m.
Each year, the championships provided the LTA with 90% of its distributable surplus, plus additional funding to support grasscourt tournaments and officiating fees. Its total payments of £52.072m amounts to 60% of the LTA’s total finances.
Wimbledon had been running on a reduced surplus over the past number of years because of the building of the roof over No 1 Court, which was completed last year. Wimbledon has also invested more heavily in the grasscourt season to offer its warm-up events more security regardless of Wimbledon’s annual surplus.
As many sporting governing bodies struggle, the LTA’s handsome finances means it has a strong position to support British tennis, underlined by the organisation now having a total equity of £175.8m and abundant cash reserves of 14.9m.
However, the LTA opted to utilise the government’s furlough scheme on around 50% of its staff in April, which coincided with its announcement of its support fund. Between 50 to 55 employees are said to be furloughed, with the LTA topping up the remaining 20% of salaries. Executive staff have also reduced their pay by 20%.
The financial impact of Wimbledon’s cancellation was tempered by its pandemic insurance, and the financial outlook for both Wimbledon and the LTA will be decided by the conclusion of the insurance claims process, with Wimbledon’s surplus expected to be lower in 2020. In addition, despite three fewer employees, the LTA also announced a significant £2.7m rise in salary expenditure.
“Whilst the LTA delivered a profit for 2019, the current outlook for 2020 and beyond will be very different due to the financial impact of the current pandemic,” read a statement from the governing body. “Our responsibility is to protect the long-term growth and future of the sport in Britain and our reserves in isolation, can only support the short-term needs of the sport at this time. The government furlough scheme is an essential measure to assist organisations, including the LTA, manage such cash-flow constraints and to safeguard jobs in the future.”
The LTA will be hosting the British National Championships for men’s, women’s juniors and wheelchair events this year as the international tours await their resumption, not before 31 July.