Wimbledon Organisers Up Prize Money but Call for Tax Law Changes

April 20, 2011

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), organisers of the Wimbledon tournament, have revealed that this year’s men’s and women’s champions will receive a rise of 10 per cent to £1.1m (US$1.8m). However, they have called for changes to tax laws to ensure that the top players continue to compete.

The total prize fund for the 2011 tournament is £14.6m ($23.9m), an increase of 6.4 per cent from the 2010 tournament.

The AELTC has called on the Government to take action over tax laws that penalise individual sports stars with international athletes in individual sports competing in Britain currently being taxed at 50 per cent on their appearance fee, winnings and, crucially, a proportion of their worldwide endorsement earnings.

That means foreign athletes with commercial agreements based overseas are still taxed on those deals for the days they are in the United Kingdom.

Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt withdrew from the Crystal Palace Diamond League meeting last year because of the tax implications and, while Wimbledon does not expect to be directly affected, fears have been raised over other tennis events in the UK, such as the ATP World Tour Finals.

Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie stated: ‘‘What we want is some action. Nobody has any problem with taxation on prize money but, in individual sports, athletes are taxed on their global endorsement income when they come to this country.

“If Lionel Messi comes here for a Champions League final he doesn’t get taxed on his endorsement income but when Roger Federer or Rafa Nadal come here they do.

“That is a disincentive, quite clearly. In the discussions we have had with players and agents, it is on their radar.”