ATP assessing change in direction for future leadership

Alex Inglot, a director of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), has called for a division of the responsibilities of current executive chairman and president Chris Kermode, stating that talks are being held that will lead to a “really interesting combination” for the leadership of the men’s tour.

Inglot, who represents the players’ interests on the ATP board, was speaking as the organisation faces divisions over the future direction it should take regarding its governance. The ATP currently operates the men’s tour as a joint venture between the players and the events, with both parties having representatives on the board.

In March, it was announced that Kermode would leave his post when his term finishes at the end of this year. The decision not to give Kermode a new contract came after it emerged that he did not enjoy the full support of the influential ATP Player Council under the presidency of Novak Djokovic.

The resignation in May of Justin Gimelstob, the player representative who was thought to have led the calls for Kermode’s departure, looked like it might clear the way for the board to reverse its decision. Kermode last month told SportBusiness that he remained fully focused on his task in hand amid the ongoing speculation over his long-term future.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Inglot, who voted in favour of the exit of his fellow Brit, spelled out his vision for the future of the organisation. He said: “I spoke to over 40 individuals, from within tennis, as well as experts from other sports to objectively assess where we were leadership wise. Should we be splitting the role of the chairman and the president/CEO? For me, even on a pure European corporate governance model, that seems to make sense.

“I believe that the organisation has now grown to such a size, the sport has grown to such a size and the entertainment environment we’re in is so evolved, that I think splitting the roles does make sense, where you have the chairman who can focus on stakeholder management, is focused on running the board, managing the board, and they can focus on really driving a vision that can really bind everyone together.

“And then we can have a president/CEO who is definitely inputting into the vision, but who is also managing the team, operationally, and can focus on delivering the finalised vision.”

Admitting that the ATP has “had some troubles” in recent months, Inglot, a lawyer by profession, said that the organisation has already held talks with a number of individuals that could lead it forward. He added: “Some of them are tennis, I wouldn’t say insiders, but people who really understand tennis already because they have some relationships. But then we’ve also got people who are from outside sport and tennis and they are offering some really interesting perspectives.

“So I’m actually very optimistic that we’re going to find a really interesting combination for our leadership going forward. We’ve seen some really bright individuals. It makes me very hopeful. We’ve got a few more phases, a few more first rounds to go, but we’re already seeing some really creative, talented people who are setting out some really interesting propositions.”

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