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MY BOY HAS 17 GRAND SLAMS
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from Eurosport:


Spare a thought for some of today's top tennis stars, who are bemoaning their lack of prize money. Outrageous claim? You decide. James Buddell explains why they're threatening to form a rival circuit to challenge the ATP.


What could be less desirable to the dwindling crowds of professional tennis than spoilt rich superstars, such as Wayne Ferreira and Yevgeny Kafelinkov in the twilight of their careers, insisting they want more prize-money and benefits from the game?

Just like many sports and entertainment businesses, of late the ATP have cut back and the players have endured the brunt of the losses in prize-money reduction and bonus pool and pension contributions.

One prominent official said: “Something has to give and the players aren’t used to giving in.”

Ferreira, with almost £6 million in career prize money and Kafelnikov - who said he would retire after last years Davis Cup final if Russia won -with £15 million in the bank including two tidy Grand Slam purses - are the most vociferous supporters of a breakaway body threatening to form, called the International Men’s Tennis Association (IMTA).

The problems started when it was decided that the ATP chief executive Mark Miles agreed to a £700,000 salary. A £300,000 report into how to improve the sport was commissioned and a board of directors with equal interest in tournament profit and player welfare have also been called to account.

A player-led survey was distributed at January’s Australia Open, with the consensus reportedly being that the players, “are frustrated by poor information from the ATP regarding the business of tennis including prize-money and pension issues.”

ATP Player Council vice president, Todd Woodbridge disagrees. The Australian doubles specialist believes that the wrath is mostly a pot-shot at Miles: “The previous board and council decided what that position was worth so for me that’s a non-issue. It seems like a personal vendetta against Mark.”

Ironically, it's not Kafelnikov or Ferreira that are being hit hardest.

It's the tour journeymen who labour on the satellite and challenger level circuits. Up until last year received bonus money when they beat a top-ranked player. The bonus pool was scrapped as part of the ATP's cost-cutting measures. The men's tour also took a stand against brand names proliferating on players attire, an ethos that hits hardest the unknowns who relied on that sponsorship for travel money.

So what needs to be done?

The ATP desperately needs to improve their branding of the sport and maximise their star players and rivalries through better promotion. More combined events like Miami need to be incorporated into the calendar too.

Women’s tennis, with the Williams sisters often killing suspense, is feeling the pinch too, with sponsors staying away and television ratings down.

COLLISION COURSE

Everything is being closely monitored by the Grand Slam committee, made up of the chairmen of the Grand Slam tournaments of Australia, France, Wimbledon and United States.

While the players want more money, the ATP is still hinting at belt-tightening, possibly cutting out perks such as free hotels and courtesy cars.

Last year the Championships paid out £8,825,000 in prize-money, in addition to daily singles player expenses of £165 towards living costs.

The Grand Slam committee have hinted that the ATP could put its foot down at Wimbledon, knowing that few players would turn their backs on the game's most famed tournament.

Also under threat is the Grand Slam Development Fund which has already invested £30 million in attempting to globalise the game.

If a breakaway circuit for now seems far-fetched, the players' reaction to this month's Grand Slam Committee meeting should provide a clearer indication.
 

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Kafelnikov has been complaining about low prize money for years, I think he said something at the Australian Open a couple of years ago and actually made a valid point about how little players got compared to other sports, but unfortunately in the media this was basically translated as a call of "gimme more money" from a double Grand Slam champion.

It's true though, the lower-ranked players do need the increases, their prize money is usually barely enough to cover their travel expenses while on Tour; they had an article about this in Ace magazine a couple of years ago and El Aynaoui, who was much lower ranked back then, mentioned how players outside the Top 20 didn't get anything by way of endorsement deals and had to rely almost entirely on their tournament earnings. Equally, even if it does seem like an act of revenge it's still worth calling Mark Miles to account for that big salary increase at a time of financial stringency for the entire organisation.
 

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Wait a minute, they don't want logos adorning the players' attire? I don't understand! Because of these cuts, not to mention the gutting of doubles tennis, players have to find money to subsist somehow!

We've all heard the story of players like Michael Russell or Vladimir Voltchkov, who have had to buy their own clothes (or borrow them, as Voltchkov had to do when he had that dream run at Wimbledon) and their shoes, and tennis isn't exactly a cheap sport -- and that's just attire! When Russell made the fourth round at RG a few years ago he finally was able to get a sponsorship deal, and the ATP discourages that? Don't they want players?!

I have always admired tennis especially because the athletes are paid for their play and don't ink deals worth millions for their POTENTIAL to play. It's disgusting how much football, baseball, basketball players are paid in the US for their supposed potential. But this is ridiculous. Everybody's feeling the pinch of a recessed economy but it's disgusting when the CEO can give himself a raise while players below tour level can barely have enough to travel to the different tournaments they need to play in order to make a living, and when doubles specialists see their purses dwindling as well.

There was also an article in Tennis (US) magazine which followed a player who played the Challenger tour and he barely broke even at the end of the year, what with travelling expenses, clothes, food, hotel, etc plus keeping a coach on hand. I think he said in a good year he made about $25,000 in prize money but he never saw much of it because it was just funnelled back into his travelling.
 

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prize money and endorsements are only part of the chunk, appearance fees, exhibitions and even private lessons add to a player's total income... Summertime in Europe, especially Germany, is the season when several talented but low ranked players make a decent money playing or teaching at private clubs or small town tournaments... These matches are not ITF sanctioned and do not get accounted for a player's "official" income, but several professional players, especially the ones ranked below 100, take advantage of this practice to reinforce their earnings...
 

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it's not a bad way to earn a living...doing sth u love... but relative to other sports such as golf...baseball....basketball...etc.. yeah i agree that tennis stars are underpaid...
 

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I remember the AO when Kafelnikov said that . I think Pete's reply was something like "we get overpaid". Pete has dominated tennis for 6 or 7 years and has loads of money, but a player ranked 100 is not as rich as Pete. I think players do not get overpaid, but underpaid I don't know. The ATP just has to make sure ALL the players are break-even at the end of the year.
 

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MY BOY HAS 17 GRAND SLAMS
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Remember what AA said about Kafelnikov's money? He should use it to buy some perspective...lol
 

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Andre and Pete live in cloud-cuckoo land

about 5-10% of the players on the mens circuit just manage to break even. (approx $50K per yr is needed just to break even)
and its not just the players on the main ATP tour, its throughout the levels.

just by increasing the money at the top would allow for more prizemoney at the bottom.
the prizemoney at the Challengers hasn't gone up for years.
 

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Andre and Pete are just selfish. With all those money they receive for all those pathetic and shameful ads of milk and other stuff.. THEY are overpaid. And Yevgeny has always said that it's not himself he is talking about, that he talks on behalf of many players. That he is doing that because to be heard it has to be said by a superstar, not by some unknown #99. When Tarango said the same a week before Kafelnikov, no one even noticed. And it was obvious that the easiest way to brush the problem away was to blame Kafelnikov in personal greed ( citing him overplaying singles, or playing doubles - which, in other circumstances would be very much encouraged ), and that's what they did.
 

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1-2% are overpaid as compared to
75-80% of other sports like basketball, baseball, and football are overpaid

Plus, you have to earn it in tennis; nothing is given to you...They are UNDERpaid!
 

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How about this article from The Age, from Melbourne? All figures in Australian dollars... ;)

Men seek big prizemoney lift at slams
February 26 2003
By John Parsons
London

Leading players on the men's international tour could soon be on a collision course with the grand slam tournaments over prizemoney.

One demand discussed at a player meeting in Rotterdam last week was that the Australian, US and French Opens and Wimbledon should double prizemoney.

It is unlikely to attract much credence among the tournament organisers, each with prize pools in excess of $18 million.

Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said the Australian Open was already increasing its prizemoney. "Prizemoney continues to grow each year at the Australian Open. At a time when prizemoney worldwide is often stationary or even reducing, the Australian Open prizemoney increased by 10 per cent for the 2003 tournament," he said.

This year's singles winners, Andre Agassi and Serena Williams, each won $1.128 million - compared with the $6750 awarded to 1972 champion John Newcombe. But the Australian Open still has the smallest of the grand slam winners' cheques.
The US Open is the richest tennis tournament in the world, with more than $US16 million ($A26.4 million) on offer, including $1.49 million each for the men's and women's champions.

Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt earned $1.38 million for his win last year, from a total sum of $23.16 million.

The players' case was led by 1999 Australian Open winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who last year won more than $2.9 million to take his career prizemoney to $38.5 million.

Kafelnikov says the players deserve a higher percentage of revenue made by the grand slam tournaments, pointing out that the men's singles prizemoney at Wimbledon last year was about 10 per cent of the tournament's $68.22 million profit.

There were calls during the meeting for prizemoney to be increased to at least 15 and possibly 20 per cent of total revenue.

But Wimbledon's overall prizemoney, including the doubles and women's events, represents about 30 per cent of the tournament's profit.

The whole of the profit is then given to local associations for the development of the game. This is the same for the Australian Open.

Grand slam tournaments also pay the players a daily living expense. The total of this fee for the 2003 Australian Open was more than $1.2 million.

The players appear to have been galvanised into action by the weakening of the tour's financial strength and a sharp reduction in the number of players receiving multi-million-dollar deals with clothing and other sponsors.

Some players regard themselves as poor relations to leading performers in the the US professional sporting bodies - the National Basketball Association, National Football League and National Hockey League.

The issue is likely to dominate the grand slam committee meeting in France next month.

It will divert attention from dissent within the Association of Tennis Professionals' own ranks. Another players group, led by American Jeff Tarango, is lobbying for support to form a breakaway player organisation. They argue that ATP officials have a conflict of interest in representing both the players and the tournaments.
 

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Ilhame said:
I didn't know the players got a daily living expense.
They get food, accomodation, transport to from hotel to complex.

thats only for the big events.
At the Challenger and Satellite you have to pay for everything yourself :eek:
 

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I thought they only did that for the top 10 players. It's hard being in the challenger circuit. Prize money is like 10 times less AND you have to pay for everything yourself.
Thanks eggy for clearing it up. It's really nice to have you back.
 

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the guys at the top seem to be extremely well-paid from where i stand -- and yet they're the ones complaining. i don't get it. i'd love to spend some time actually talking to one of these guys and see if i can genuinely understand his POV.

i know that it's expensive to be rich what with all the private jets they like to own and stuff, but i'm wondering if part of the problem is that they simply can't afford to be actually filthy rich.

according to Vanity Fair, Michael Jackson had to take a $200 million dollar loan to meet his expenses. if tennis players want to be high-flyers like that, then i'm sure that they are not paid well enough.

maybe part of the problem is that they become "celebrities" after being successful but being a celebrity is extremely expensive.
 
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