Tennis could be poised for a radical overhaul as the sport’s main stakeholders come together in an unprecedented effort to chart a roadmap to simplify the governance of the sport, he told Reuters the head of the ATP, the Italian Andrea Gaudenzi.
A “working group T7”, Which involves the ATP, WTA, the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation, It will begin work later this month examining areas such as a unified calendar, commercial offers, sponsorships and shared television offers.
“I’m excited to go through that process because it’s never been done before. I don’t know the outcome, but I hope to explore all the options, ”Gaudenzi said in an interview.
”We promised to start after Australian Open to work together on our project with the help of a consultant from March. Governance, calendar rules, synergies in commercial media, data rights, sponsorship … everything is on the table ”.
Tennis enjoys a massive following around the world, but its governance is fractured with the seven organizations that run different parts of the game.
There are different rating systems, different logos, different websites, and viewers need different pay TV platforms to watch matches. Unified governance could simplify television contracts and endorsement deals.
The unprecedented challenge of the pandemic helped forge closer ties between the bodies – they came together to raise more than 6 million euros in May to help lower-level players, for example, and laid the groundwork for the T7 group.
Twelve months since the start of the suspension of the Tour in March 2020, approximately $ 16 million in aid payments among 650 players on the Men’s Tour.
“We have shown that we can be agile, make decisions quickly,” Gaudenzi added. “It is about being able to navigate the ship in very dangerous waters, as every company should do. I have worked both in a large organization and in a startup. The advantage of a startup is that you move fast. When you move fast you can react quickly to changes in the market ”, explains the transalpino.
“What you do today will probably no longer be valid in two years. And if you want to be up to date in four years, you have to start working today ”.
Gaudenzi said the process could take six to nine months of biweekly meetings to discuss ideas that will allow tennis to better meet the challenges of a changing market.
“We are in the entertainment industry,” said the Italian.
“We compete today with Netflix, which spends $ 20 billion a year on content. Music, entertainment, games, everything is accessible fast and fast. My children love to play every day. I cut it down to three hours a week, but they would do it 10 hours a week if they could. “
Gaudenzi firmly believes that tennis is too dependent on ticket sales and needs a structural change to move in the right direction. “Media and data, enriching the digital experience is the future of distribution,” said the former top 20 player.
”We are 7 billion people in the world, not everyone has the privilege of attending events. With the COVID-19 the trend has been set a bit ”.
Gaudenzi presented an ambitious plan to revolutionize the sport shortly after taking office as ATP president last year, but the pandemic quickly forced all sports organizations into crisis.
“I see it as a storm, a strong storm,” said the man from 47 years. “But it will happen. It will leave some damage, but our fundamentals are solid. So I am sure that we will have the opportunity to become stronger again if we learn something. “
“I’d like to tell everyone, ‘Hey, let’s not go back to the old habits. We need to be agile as we have been in the last 12 months out of necessity. ‘ I would like to have a different governance structure in the future and we have shown that we can all work together. That is important”.