Wimbledon pandemic insurance is off the table for the 2021 tournament

Wimbledon’s pandemic insurance is off the table for the 2021 Championships, after the policy shielded the All England Club from the worst financial effects of this year’s event

  • Wimbledon’s insurance policy shielded it from bad financial damage this year
  • However, the same insurance policy is off the table for next year’s tournament
  • Sources say a price estimate of what they will receive is in excess of £100million 

Wimbledon has admitted that there is no chance of repeating its masterstroke of having pandemic insurance when it comes to the 2021 tournament.

Monday morning would have seen the start of The Championships, which were cancelled on April 1. Unlike many other sporting events, the All England Club is shielded from the worst financial effects by having continually reinforced its policy guarding against such things as the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

The current state of the insurance market means it will not be feasible to have such a thing in place next year, according to Chief Executive Richard Lewis.

The insurance policy that has saved the All England Club millions is off the table for 2021

‘That’s impossible in the current climate,’ he conceded. ‘In the immediate aftermath you can’t get insurance but fairly soon after that, you can start to get insurance again, the market returns. So there won’t be insurance next year, but just because we’ve made one claim it won’t affect us in the long term.’

The procedure is enormously complex, involving negotiations with more than ten different companies and brokers, and it is a long way from being entirely settled.

Any precise estimate of what they will receive is impossible at this point, but according to reliable sources a realistic expectation is that it will be in excess of £100 million.

‘I have seen speculative figures and I don’t recognise any of them,’ said Lewis, who reckons the claim is only about a third of the way through being worked out. ‘ In terms of what it covers – ticket refunds, operational costs. One of the things you have to do when you trigger an insurance claim is minimise your loss, so from the beginning of April we’ve had to make sure we didn’t spend money unnecessarily, on contractors and that sort of thing.

Novak Djokovic would’ve attempted to defend his Wimbledone crown but it was cancelled

‘It’s a wide ranging policy but part of the reason why it takes so long to work through is that everything is looked at, so there’s no blanket payout. It’s looked at line by line quite literally, every cost, expenditure, bit of income, revenue, whether it has to be repaid, all that sort of thing. It is a very time consuming and laborious process for my colleagues in the finance department but I emphasise it’s being a collaborative process with the insurance companies.’

At a time when the diversity of sports committees’ make-up is rightly under scrutiny, the Wimbledon example is also a reminder that having old-fashioned expertise on board is massively beneficial. The vigilance of the dreary-sounding Finance Sub-Committee, responsible for such things, paid off.

The French and US Opens are desperately trying to go ahead this year partly because they have not taken similar measures. As a result of the All England Club’s foresight the annual handout to the British domestic game and all its initiatives – worth around £40 million – will be largely unharmed.

Wimbledon chief says that just because they’ve made one claim it won’t affect them in future

‘It won’t be severely impacted,’ said Lewis. ‘It’s great to have insurance. We’re still in a very good position, which is a slightly strange thing to say when you’ve just cancelled the Championships. We’re financially very stable. In terms of the business, and the LTA and therefore British tennis, it’s going to be pretty well protected. It will take two or three months to work through the rest of the insurance claim.’

While the Covid-19 situation has eased, especially in South West London, new Chairman Ian Hewitt has no regrets about the abandonment decision.

‘The cancellation of the Championships was hugely disappointing for us and a painful decision,’ he said. ‘But we knew that it had to be done. It was the right thing to do. We’ve no doubt about that. And we believe the timing was right.’

SW19 will be quiet on Monday, although Wimbledon is producing its own online content through the fortnight, while the BBC is scheduling daily programmes looking back on past highlights.




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