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Insurance policy allows Wimbledon to allocate £10m in prize money, despite cancellation

(Photo by Chris Gorman/Getty Images)

The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) has announced it will allocate prize money for this year’s cancelled Wimbledon Championships having taken out an insurance policy that included pandemic cover and a provision for paying players.

The AELTC will share a total of £10m ($12.65m/€11.19m) based on the 620 players whose world rankings would have gained entry to the main draw or qualifiers.

The organisers indicated the 224 players who would have competed in qualifying will each receive £12,500; the 256 players who would have competed in the main singles draw will each receive £25,000; while the 120 players who would have competed in the main doubles draw will each receive £6,250.

Additionally, the 16 players who would have competed in the wheelchair events will each receive £6,000 and the four players who would have competed in the Quad Wheelchair events will each receive £5,000. The AELTC said players will only receive payment for one event.

The grass-court tournament was due to be taking place now (between June 29 and July 12) but the AELTC took the decision to cancel at an emergency board meeting in early April – the first time the grand slam had been called off since World War II.

A statement from the AELTC indicated the tournament organiser had taken the decision to award the prize money “following consultation” regarding its “insurance cover for cancellation”.

Wimbledon is one of the few major events known to have had insurance cover for the health crisis. SportBusiness understands the insurance policy included a ring-fenced provision specifically for paying prize money to players, and the tournament would not have been able spend the allocated money on anything else.

It was not guaranteed that the insurance company would agree to pay the £10m sum and it is understood the figure is the product of a negotiation between the parties about the appropriate number under the terms of the contract.

In April trade publication Insurance Times reported that the AELTC has been insuring itself against cancellation due to a pandemic for the last 17 years and was set for a £114m payout overall. The publication said the Wimbledon organiser had paid about £1.5m per year for the insurance and £25.5m over the whole period. SportBusiness has not been able to corroborate these figures.

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AELTC chief executive, Richard Lewis CBE, said: “Immediately following the cancellation of The Championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen. We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking.

“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020.”

The AELTC said it was currently examining scenarios which would allow it to safely hold the 2021 event.

“While the next Championships is still 12 months away, we will be taking the opportunity to watch and learn from the experience of other sports organisations and entertainment events as they return in order to prepare for every possible outcome,” the statement said.

The organisation confirmed that it will not hold a public ballot for the 2021 event having stated at the time of this year’s cancellation that successful applicants in the 2020 ballot could transfer their tickets to the same day and court next year.

SportBusiness understands more than 90 per cent of tickets were allocated in the 2020 ballot and the AELTC did not think it would be appropriate to run another ballot with such a small chance of securing tickets.

The AELTC added that it has worked with the LTA, the governing body for tennis in Britain, to provide a payment to the LTA licensed officials who would have worked at The Championships this year, and also a number of international officials who help in the running of the event.