LTA reveals £5.2million operating loss in 2020 amid fears of further uncertainty

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The Lawn Tennis Association saw its income take a major hit in 2020 and admitted this year could turn out to be even more challenging.

The governing body’s income was reduced by GBP 30million year on year, resulting in an an operating loss of GBP 5.2million – reduced to an overall loss of GBP 1.8million once gains in investments were taken into account.

The LTA saw all its major grass-court events wiped out because of coronavirus while it invested in measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the domestic game.

Of its income for 2020 of GBP 47million, more than 75 per cent came from the GBP 36million it received as its annual payment from Wimbledon – a demonstration of just how vital the All England Club’s pandemic insurance turned out to be.

The payment was, though, nearly GBP 10million lower than in 2019 while the LTA made just GBP 676,000 from major events in 2020 compared to GBP 14.4million the previous year, and commercial income was also severely reduced.

Losses were mitigated by the organisation saving GBP 19.3million – it claimed GBP 1.2million through the Government’s furlough scheme – but it invested nearly GBP 5million to support coaches, venues, officials and tennis charities through the pandemic.

The LTA retains total equity of GBP 174million, while it arranged an overdraft facility of GBP 15million during 2020 to mitigate against fluctuations to its working capital, but there are concerns over the financial outlook for 2021.

Tennis courts were locked for several months in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic
Tennis courts were locked for several months in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic (Yui Mok/PA)

Wimbledon is set to take a major hit in income because of reduced spectator capacity and the same applies to the events run by the LTA at Queen’s Club, Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne.

The net costs of staging those tournaments, meanwhile, are expected to be approximately double what they would normally be.

LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd, who took a pay cut from GBP 429,000 to GBP 356,000, said: “Last year was a challenging one for everyone but throughout the year we remained focused on reducing costs while continuing to support the tennis community. We made progress against our strategy of opening up tennis.

“This year we have the uncertainty created by a reduced capacity at the Championships and our own events, as well as the extra costs that Covid is imposing on our events.

“However, we will be continuing our efforts to make tennis a sport for everyone and transform the image of the sport in this country.”

Tennis participation increased eight per cent from 2019 while, for performance players, the LTA hosted more than 1,000 behind-closed-doors matches at the National Tennis Centre.

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