The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has borrowed millions of pounds from the Government to support them in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.
The loan forms part of the Government’s Sport Survival Package, which has helped hundreds of sports organisations survive over the last 12 months.
According to the report, the LTA – the governing body of tennis in Great Britain – has been awarded a loan of £14.3 million – ensuring that the grass-court season can go ahead this year as planned.
The sports body said the cash has already enabled them to host multiple events this year, including two events in Nottingham and events in Birmingham, Eastbourne and the Queen’s Club, allowing tennis professionals to prepare ahead of Wimbledon.
It comes after the maximum attendance numbers of sporting events was slashed in response to the pandemic – significantly reducing gate receipts and “doubling” the usual net costs of hosting major tournaments.
UK Athletics, the governing body for the sport of athletics in the United Kingdom, has also been awarded £1.2 million in loans ahead of the British Athletics Championships and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It means that the sport and leisure sector has now benefited from more than £1.5 billion in support over the last 12 months, through schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), business rates relief, and the business interruption loan scheme.
Commenting on the funding, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “There was a genuine risk that our tennis and athletics talent would not have had the opportunity to properly prepare and compete ahead of major events, like the Olympics.
“This funding has meant that tennis and athletics events could plan with confidence, supporting our sport stars and making sure that the Great British summer of sport goes on.”
Scott Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association, added: “Knowing the loan support is available has allowed us to plan with a degree of certainty and commit to expenditure when faced with only being able to admit 25 per cent of spectators to stage our early summer events safely and our investment levels being double the normal cost.
“Whilst we have reduced costs internally to manage through this period more generally, we can now plan ahead to 2022 and look to capitalise on increases in participation by supporting indoor community and public venues as they help recover from the aftermath of pandemic.”