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Lisbon | ITF Board elected to support Haggerty plans

Lisbon | ITF Board elected to support Haggerty plans

As the tennis world comes to terms with the re-election of David Haggerty as ITF President, the 29 candidates vying for positions on the 14-strong Board of Directors discovered their fate on Friday at the governing body’s Conference and AGM in Lisbon, Portugal.

The following 14 candidates were elected to the Board for the period 2019-23 [in alphabetical order / * returning member]:

Katrina Adams (USA) 295 *
Carlos Bravo (CRC) 288
Martin Corrie (GBR) 239 *
Bernard Giudicelli (FRA) 304
Jack Graham (CAB) 238 *
Nao Kawatei (JPN) 275
Anil Khanna (IND) 203 *
Ulrich Klaus (GER) 213
Salma Mouelhi Guizani (TUN) 269
Camilo Pérez López Moreira (PAR) 280
Alexey Selivanenko (RUS) 201 *
René Stammbach (SUI) 300 *
Bulat Utemuratov (KAZ) 357 *

The 14 elected Board members received the highest number of recorded votes by delegates in a secret ballot, while also meeting the geographical representation criteria specified in the ITF Constitution in a voting procedure conducted by the Election Panel, a sub-group of the independent Ethics Commission, and independent auditors.

Unsuccessful members standing for re-election were Sergio Elias (CHI), Ismail El Shafei (EGY), Thomas Koenigsfeldt (DEN), Celia Patrick (NZL), Stefan Tzvetkov (BUL) and Bulat Utemuratov (KAZ).

Haggerty’s convincing first round victory in securing a second term as President at the governing body’s AGM earlier on Friday saw off the challenge of India’s Anil Khanna, Ireland’s Dave Miley and the Czech Republic’s Ivo Kaderka.

Neither Miley or Kaderka were subsequently elected to the Board.

After receiving over 60 per cent of the 428 valid votes, Haggerty claimed a comfortable majority, a far cry from his election in 2015 when he won by just 8 votes over Khanna, who finished runner-up again.

While the LTA openly voted for Haggerty, probably towing the line for the All England Club, whose Chairman Philip Brook has backed Haggerty’s reforms in the past, it also gave the ITF a conditional warning.

“We are deeply concerned about the governance of the sport, the role of the ITF in that and a number of recent decisions,” said the LTA in a statement.

“The LTA Board had lengthy discussions about the forthcoming ITF Presidential vote and we do not believe that now is the right time for a radical change in regime.

“We will, however be holding whichever candidate becomes President of the ITF to account on a number of areas.”

The LTA’s support of Haggerty was clearly a boost to others, and whatever Haggerty’s critics may say, there is now money flowing into the ITF’s coffers from Kosmos, the consortium fronted by Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué, which has effectively bought the Davis Cup.

Kosmos will, no doubt, stage a highly professional first Davis Cup finals event in November at Madrid’s Caja Magica, but it has been suggest that it is struggling to attract the blue-chip sponsors and broadcasting deals to justify its promised outlay of $3 billion over 25 years, or $120 million annually.

There could be echoes here of ISL, the sports-marketing agency that bought the 9 ATP Masters events for £1.2 billion in 1999, and then went bust 2 years later.

There is also £14.2 million income coming in from Hungary, the nation that will host a re-modelled Fed Cup finals week in April, for which the prize fund has been raised to £12 million for the players, but there is some doubt cast as to the long-term sustainability of the competition.

Haggerty’s track record remains speckled by the disastrous implementation of the Transition Tour, which left hundreds of less-well-paid players with no rankings points or tournaments in which to play.

Five months later, after a worldwide outcry, the ITF scrapped the project, but none of that appears to have registered with those who voted in Lisbon.

Haggerty’s manifesto vowed to continue ‘strong and trusted leadership’, with a review of the organisation’s governance structure, and a task-force is now expected to be established to recommend structural changes.

This could include a potential splitting of the role of the President, while an alternative structure could be introduced around where the ITF is based – ITF Limited is currently a Bahamas-based company, while the ITF headquarters are at Roehampton in London.

Increased revenues are promised to national associations, and Haggerty had also pledged to increase development funding to an $18 million (£14.5 million/€16.5 million) investment worldwide annually, rising from the current figure of $12 million (£10 million/€11 million).

The $12 million figure is claimed to be double the development funds provided by the ITF when Haggerty assumed leadership of the world governing body in 2015.

It is clear that money talks, and with it comes power.

It can only to be hoped that after winning a contentious and combative election campaign, Haggerty can now find solutions to unite a sport that remains fractured on so many levels.

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