After a couple of weeks trying to gather useful information on the structure of the ATP and ITF I have put something together. If you are familiar with the ATP and ITF or not its worth a read. Here is a general breakdown:
– the ATP and ITF are separate entities. The ATP owns the challengers, and all tour events
– the ITF are responsible for futures and Davis Cup. They have an affiliation with Grand Slams but they don’t have any power or say when it comes to decisions the Grand Slams make
– the ATP has two sections, the players and the tournaments. They form part of the same company. This makes the structure of the ATP quite unique. At the board level there are 7 positions. 3 player board positions, 3 tournament board positions, and the CEO. The 6 board members (3 tournament, 3 player) are individuals voted by their respective constituencies.
– All decisions regarding any changes to the tour go to a vote. Depending on the nature of what is being decided upon, a different number of votes are needed to pass the new rule/law.
– the player council consists of 10 players. They work together with our 3 player board reps, who represent their wishes at the ATP board meetings
– therefore a balance of power is created, between the players and the tournaments. For example, say the players decide they want a 10 minute warm up for matches. The player council votes on it. If it it passes a majority vote, the player board reps will vote for it at the board meeting. However in order to get something passed more than 4 votes are required. Therefore unless the tournaments agree as well, the rule won’t be changed (unless the CEO votes as a deciding 7th vote)
– this system can sometimes be very frustrating as they have to always have tournament support. However at the same time it stops the tournaments from doing what they want to do.
Apparently price money has been a huge point of discussion over the last two years but it seems like the increases are still focused at the top.
– It started with the Grand Slams. One thing to take notice is that the Slams don’t form part of the ATP. Therefore any negotiations with the Slams were done only by the players side. The tournament side didn’t have any power (although they were all against extra prize money because it makes their tournaments seem less important)
– There has been some very good progress at the 250 and 500 level. Not exactly what the players would like, but remember everything has to be agreed with from the tournament side – and they don’t want to pay extra money. And additionally they don’t want other tournaments to increase their prize money as it makes them look bad. A good example is the following: Larry Ellison has wanted to give more prize money for the Indian Wells event. From a players side this is obviously very good. But from the tournament side they didn’t like this as it makes other tournaments seem less important. This was recently voted upon. It went to a 3 all vote (all 3 tournament reps voted against it) The CEO broke the tie and voted in favor of the players. This is where the ATP structure can be very frustrating from a players side.
– at the 1000 level things are tougher. They all have 10 years contracts ending in 2018. So until then the players can try press the tournaments for increases, but they are somewhat limited in what they can do.
This outlines the general structure of the ATP and what has happened to prize money at the tour level. Although the top guys are wanting more money they are making a great living. My concern are the lower levels in challengers and futures. So:
– remember that the futures and challengers are separate entities.
– over the last couple years there have been improvements at the challenger level. This has come largely from an agreement that licenses online scoring. The revenue from this is going into the challenger level. I know the base level of challengers have been raised, I think the minimum soon will be 50+H.
– There is definitely a push to try and keep raising the prize money at the challenger level. They want to make tennis as attractive as possible to players aspiring to reach the top and know its not where it is meant to be.
In an email from a current council member he said, “There has been progress, but there is still a ways to go. At all levels of the game. I know at the future and challenger level there is not a lot of financial reward.”
The above information doesn’t have many suggestions, if any, but it will give everyone a better idea of what is going on behind the scenes. The ATP are clearly trying to make an effort to increase the prize money but as you can see most of the focus remains at the ATP 250, 500, and 1000 level. They are trying to increase the challenger prize money for the players but tournaments don’t want the increase because it will mean they will have to come up with more money to have the event. The topic of prize money has been going on throughout the ATP for over two years, lets keep pushing for the conversation to flow down to the futures.
“Having players come together and voice their opinions will put more pressure to move things forward. So the more players you can reach out to and unite the better. But its important to have a very clear agenda. If you have a clear agenda, both regarding futures and challengers, and have player support that is when the most progress can be made.”