February 2024
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The LTA’s expensive tennis flops flop yet again

The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA’s) serial no-hopers Dan Evans and James Ward have both lost in just the second round of the Queens Club tennis competition. Of course, both are reasonable players and much better than most of us will ever be. But when you look at the hundreds of millions of pounds that have been spent (squandered?) on supposedly bringing up the next generation of British ‘champions’, their performance is less than impressive.

The LTA has an annual budget of about £60m. Around £35m of this comes from Wimbledon, about £10m comes from us stupid, gullible taxpayers and the rest comes from other sources. But where does this £60m go? It certainly hasn’t gone into helping any of Britain’s last 3 tennis champions. Remember Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman and Andy Murray all developed outside the LTA coaching system.

A few years ago, the Government increased the amount of taxpayers’ money going to the LTA. In return, the LTA set some goals such as the average ranking of the top five British men being 101 – the LTA only achieved 204. The year 2010 marked a low point for British tennis when a British team (funding £60m a year) lost to Lithuania – population 3.2 million and total annual tennis spend £100,000 a year. In fact, the dire state of British tennis was so bad, that in 2012, Sports England withheld around £10m in funding for the next 5-year period.

In 2007 the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton opened at a cost of £40m to support the supposed elite end of the game. But many argue the centre is barely used and it certainly hasn’t given us many decent players.

Apart from Andy Murray there is not another British man in the top 100 and no sign of a budding Nadal or Federer. The situation for British women is slightly different, with two women in the top 100 but no-one anywhere near the top 20.

An awful lot of the LTA’s money seems to go into providing a very comfortable living for its bureaucrats. The previous boss of the LTA was paid an almost unbelievable £640,000 a year plus reportedly had massive expenses junketing around the world to attend all the best tournaments while staying in the best hotels and eating at the best restaurants. The new boss ‘only’ gets a modest £497,000 plus, of course, probably eye-wateringly generous expenses.

The LTA has long been criticised for having too many committees with too many people creaming off substantial amounts of money from being on these committees:

It is believed that many of these committee members also enjoy a jet-setting life thanks in part to the generosity of British taxpayers.

The LTA gets an awful lot of money and spends an awful lot of money – much of it apparently on the comfort of its own panjandrums. But the LTA seems to have done little to nothing for tennis in Britain. As one commentator wrote: “The LTA has mismanaged its huge budget, failed to grow the game and at times seems intent on managing decline hidden by the annual splendour of the Wimbledon Championships”.

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