October 2023
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Britain’s overpaid tennis bureaucrats win again

We should congratulate Andy Murray. He couldn’t beat Djokovic in Melbourne yesterday, but he is still a tremendous sportsman and brilliant athlete. But the most impressive part of Murray’s story is that he and his family achieved his success through extraordinary hard work and determination and by completely bypassing the incompetent over-paid, over-pensioned bureaucrats running and ruining British tennis.

For seven years up to his departure at the end of 2013, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) was run by a certain Roger Draper whose final salary package was around £640,000 – about 4 times that of the Prime Minister. Draper received a basic wage of £394,000, a bonus of £201,000 and a pension contribution of £45,000. Under Draper’s extremely lucrative (for him) time in charge, if I have my facts correct the LTA didn’t produce a single player to consistently achieve a world ranking of above 100 (or even 200?). Yet countries with a tenth of the UK’s population and a fraction of the LTA’s massive budget can produce champion after champion.

Moreover, in the four years up to Murray’s Wimbledon victory the number of people participating in tennis declined. In fact the situation was so bad that in 2012 Sport England described the LTA’s plan to improve numbers playing the game as ‘simply not strong enough’ and threatened to cut the LTA’s funding by £10.3m a year if it failed to increase participation.

Following Murray’s success, which was achieved without the help of the LTA, participation in tennis did increase. Hence, I suppose the £201,000 bonus for the lucky Mr Draper.

Many outsiders have wondered where the LTA’s annual £15.3m staffing costs and £17m spent on participation actually goes. I think they’ll find that executive salaries for the LTA’s many bosses and Five-Star, First-Class junkets to the world’s major tournaments for the bosses and their significant others eat up a considerable chunk of the LTA’s many millions leaving precious little for training the next generation of ‘champions’.

The LTA was criticised by Baroness Billingham, the chair of Parlaiment’s All-Party Tennis Group in December 2012. She said: “The LTA is one of the wealthiest sporting organisations in the country and it’s my honest and genuine opinion that they are useless.” Draper’s £640,000 salary package was also described by Billingham as “unthinkable”.

Like so many other organisations in today’s Bureaucrats Britain – the NHS, the military, the police, councils, many charities – the LTA has become a sclerotic bureaucracy that seems to exist only to support the privileged lifestyles of its bosses.

In January 2014, Canadian Michael Downey took over as chief executive of the LTA. Downey was Tennis Canada’s president for nine years. Downey will be paid a salary of £300,000 with a chance to earn up to 30% more in bonuses if he meets performance targets.

But will anything ever change at the preposterously poorly-performing, junketing bureaucrats’ paradise that is the LTA? Or will it just be more snouts in the trough?

I think I can guess.

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3 comments to Britain’s overpaid tennis bureaucrats win again

  • Keen Reader

    Well said! Wherever you look in the UK it’s the same – too many highly-paid, minimally-productive, over-fed, target-obsessed chiefs, too few hard-working, underpaid, struggling minions, whose sole support is their own self-motivation. The chiefs emerge only to take credit and bask in the reflected glory when those whom they’ve done little to aid achieve success.
    And before anyone says that Murray is now a multi-millionaire or some such – well, more power to him. He’s worked incredibly hard to get where he has and long may be enjoy it.
    (Could his occasional “melt-downs”, one of which apparently occurred yesterday, be something to do with the wider state of tennis in the UK and the sense of isolation he must inevitably have experienced on his way to the top? Just a thought.)

  • MGJ

    I have a relation who is a coach at the LTA and I doubt he would disagree with much of what you say. You could also have mentioned the guaranteed ‘bonuses’ paid despite demonstrable failure to hit targets or the mutual back-stabbing and constant in-fighting between the top-dogs. My understanding is that the arrival of the new CEO was taken as an opportunity to settle many an old score.

  • richard clayton

    The regime under Downey has gone a lot worse this last 2 years with a lot of fundinf stopped.The fruits of Drapers regime are now coming throughwhich he was half way through,Baroness Bellingham has no need to talk .

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