British failings need to be properly identified
The report from the All-Party Parliamentary Tennis Group investigating the spending of the Lawn Tennis Association failed to deliver the knockout blow that some were hoping for, but it contains enough intrigue to suggest the inquest is far from over.
The group chaired by Baroness Billingham was asked by the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe to interview the LTA management, Sport England and various independent critics to establish whether tax payers' money is being used wisely.
In addition to the annual Wimbledon millions, the LTA receives money from the National Lottery via Sport England and is currently one year into a four-year contract worth £26m.
Baroness Billingham and co made it clear that they had "no powers to challenge the workings of the LTA" - and certainly there is no direct criticism of LTA management or any calls for resignations or funding cuts - but the report raises a number of key issues, with plenty to read between the lines.
"We feel it is crucial that the LTA should be more transparent and accountable in the setting of their priorities and the use of their funds," it read.
"The LTA should be asked for costed plans for all of their initiatives, which should reflect priorities arrived at following meaningful consultation with everyone involved in the sport. Sport England share this responsibility and, as experts in the field, should be forensic both in distribution of funds and outcomes.
"In particular, care should be taken to ensure that the bonuses paid to LTA staff are in clear recognition of quantifiable success in performance. Grass roots tennis... ought to be at the top of the LTA's priorities."
There are two very interesting themes which emerge after reading the report several times.
The first is the panel's underlying frustration that it did not have more time for scrutiny and a sense that there is more to be discovered beneath the surface.
"We regret time didn't allow us a broader review," it added. "We should have had input from county associations, clubs, schools and individuals working as volunteers."
In a letter to the Sports Minister, the panel, made up of MPs and peers, advised that representatives from these areas "must be heard" if there was ever a follow-up review.
LTA chief executive Roger Draper is also awaiting the results of an internal review
The second point of interest is the panel's view of LTA high command.
"One major difficulty with the LTA is that the complexity of their organisation is such that establishing precise and clear answers proved difficult," it read, adding that lots of questions brought "confusing replies".
Again, the panel has invited the Sports Minister to take a closer look in order to "clarify the precise position the LTA took on several matters".
The conclusions of the report will come as no surprise to those who have attempted to elicit straight replies from the LTA over the years. There is often more spin out of Roehampton than a Rafa Nadal forehand.
The Westminster group accepted that "esteem for the LTA seems to be at an all-time low and, as a consequence, much of the good work of the LTA tends to be overlooked."
Hardly surprisingly this was a comment the LTA pounced upon when posting its statement of reply: "We welcome the All-Party Group's offer to help in communicating the work we do and agree that... some of the LTA's good work tends to be overlooked."
The LTA says it is happy to account for its spending at any stage and confirmed that "no public money goes into the payment of bonuses at the LTA which are determined by strict measures of performance".
The ball is now in the Sports Minister's side of the court. He may decide to take this report further and do some further digging.
Meantime, the LTA's own internal review - billed initially as "swift and decisive" by chief executive Roger Draper - enters its fourth week. As I write, all we know is that John Lloyd has resigned as Davis Cup captain.
When will LTA player director Steven Martens be reporting back and what is he going to say?
This spurious "review" must not be allowed to be filed under "C" for carpet.
There are many deep-rooted causes for British tennis failings and these need to be properly identified by those with the power to change them.