The LTA sent mixed signals on Thursday when its President Martin Corrie resigned after an investigation found the way a committee he was on dealt with a sexual assault allegation was ‘not good enough’, and then nominated him for a place on the main board of the International Tennis Federation.
I have, after much consideration, voluntarily decided that it would be in the best interests of all concerned for me to step down as President of the LTA and from the LTA Board Martin Corrie
It has emerged that the man who is succeeding him, David Rawlinson, has withdrawn from his bid to sit on the ITF Board as a second British member, leaving Corrie as the sole candidate being supported by the British governing body for one of the prestige posts in the international game.
The moves have sparked criticism over the current state of British tennis, the governance of which appears to be in total disarray.
The LTA also revealed that it is supporting sitting incumbent Dave Haggerty in today’s ITF Presidential election over other three rivals for the post, including London-based Irishman Dave Miley.
This is despite admitting it was ‘deeply concerned about the governance of the sport’ and having voted against the American’s changes to the Davis Cup last year.
The LTA apparently is also unhappy with many aspects of the ITF’s current direction but has apparently been persuaded, perhaps by Wimbledon, to maintain the status quo.
“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.”
With Miley running on a reform ticket the LTA has opted to maintain the status quo, and its support is important because, as a Grand Slam nation, it has a maximum 12 votes to be cast under the electoral system.
The LTA is one of the 5 nations with 12 votes, along with the USA, Australia, France and Germany.
Miley, whose presidential campaign has reportedly seen him to visit 70 countries, poses the biggest threat and is a vocal critic of the Transition Tour and other reforms at the ITF.
“I believe tennis is very fragmented at the moment and is not very healthy. The ITF has a perception that it is quite weak and I want to change that.” Miley said during the launch of his candidacy earlier this year.
“My manifesto is underpinned by two things. What’s good for tennis and what is good for the nations of the ITF.”
The ITF presidential election takes place today, Friday, with the other candidates being Anil Khanna (India) Ivo Kaderka (Czech Republic).
Candidates require more than 50% of the vote to be elected.
As for Corrie, he is stepping down as LTA President after the independent investigation into a historic sex-abuse case found him to be responsible for safeguarding failings in the early 2000s.
Now it seems he is to be rewarded with a prestigious international role that will surely not sit well for the woman who was the victim of predatory sexual behaviour in the 1990s, when she was still a minor.
Her case was poorly handled, according to the independent review, which also said that she should have received more support.
Corrie was not directly connected with the unnamed woman’s original ordeal, but he was part of the Hertfordshire executive committee when the incident was first investigated in 2004.
The Telegraph reports that Corrie initially wrote a letter in support of the rogue coach, who was able to continue working with children until his licence was revoked in 2005.
The issue resurfaced when the Wrexham Tennis Centre’s head coach Dan Sanders was jailed for 6 years in 2017 for sexually abusing underage players, a friend of the Hertfordshire victim raised this historic blunder and asked why stronger action had not been taken.
As part of Thursday’s statement, Corrie was quoted as saying: “The communication between Hertfordshire LTA and the LTA was not good enough … and I sincerely apologise for my part in this.
“I have, after much consideration, voluntarily decided that it would be in the best interests of all concerned for me to step down as President of the LTA and from the LTA Board.
“I do not wish anything to distract from the important role the LTA has in promoting and embedding best practice in the management and safeguarding of tennis, the sport which I love.”
The incident sparked a massive safeguarding initiative with British tennis, yet Corrie has still been put forward as the LTA’s nomination for the ITF Board, a decision which reflects poorly on both LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd and Chairman Mervyn Davies.
Asked why the LTA were supporting Corrie for the influential post at the ITF, an LTA spokesman said: “We believe that Martin, in respect of his extensive experience in the sport and the lessons learned from this process, will be a passionate ambassador for safeguarding within tennis.”
While the finished report has yet to be published, the independent review is believed to be damning about the child-protection standards of the time, while also handing down strong criticism of Hertfordshire’s Executive Committee, particularly since after the initial complaint, there was a shortage of follow-up action, and a reluctance to involve the police.
When challenged on the decision to nominate Corrie, who already sits on the ITF Board, an LTA spokesperson explained that following the external disciplinary review, they were satisfied that the matter can be brought to a close following Corrie’s resignation from his duties in the LTA.
Corrie’s nomination for the ITF position, however, has not been universally welcomed by those well-established behind the scenes in British tennis.