Coronavirus: LTA plans £20m aid package for venues, coaches, officials and players

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Tennis ball
The decision to cancel Wimbledon was announced on Wednesday

The LTA is putting aside up to £20m to help tennis venues, coaches, officials and players through the coronavirus pandemic.

Singles players ranked outside the top 100, who do not already receive funding from the governing body, will be eligible for grants.

Chief executive Scott Lloyd and the rest of his executive team will take temporary pay cuts of 20%.

In addition, some staff will be furloughed in the coming days.

The package of measures follows this week's cancellation of Wimbledon and all the LTA's summer grass court events.

"This pandemic has the potential to put the continued future growth of tennis at significant risk," Lloyd said.

"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."

Venues will be able to access interest-free loans of up to £5,000 from a hardship fund, while full-time LTA accredited coaches and licensed officials will be eligible to apply for grants.

Support grants will also be available to singles players ranked between 101 and 750, and doubles players from 101 to 250, who are not currently in receipt of LTA funding.

That could apply to players such as Davis Cup winner James Ward, Liam Broady and his sister Naomi - who told BBC Radio Manchester this week she was considering applying to work in a supermarket to make ends meet.

The money is not intended to compensate them for what they might otherwise have expected to earn, but to ease the difficulties of several months without any income. All those who benefit from the support will be asked to contribute back to the sport, and to their local communities, once the pandemic has eased.

There will also be an increased prize fund for any British Tour events which are able to resume later this year, and preliminary discussions have taken place about the resurrection of the National Championships, which were last staged in 2002.

The LTA would like to see the event restored to the calendar, but accept there may be no room on the schedule if tennis is able to resume on a global scale at about the same time.

Staff whose jobs leave them with nothing to do in the current climate will be asked to stop working, but receive 80% of their actual income through a government scheme topped up by the organisation.

The LTA, which has launched a Tennis at Home campaign to help people stay active during the pandemic, will partially fund the support package from its reserves of £66m.

The rest will be financed through what it describes as "significant savings".

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