Indian Wells: ATP Players’ Council vice-president Todd Woodbridge says a proposed breakaway International Men’s Tennis Association (IMTA) will fizzle out.
“They don’t have enough support,” Woodbridge said at the Pacific Life Open on Tuesday following a meeting of 16 of the top 20 men’s players the previous night.
“It’s unlikely they’ll get off the ground because what they are proposing is already in place. We already have representatives and if you don’t like them, you can vote in new ones and do it in the system that you have. Basically, they are only asking to vote in another player’s council.”
The proposed IMTA is headed by South African Wayne Ferreira and Belgian Laurence Tieleman, who have hired a New York law firm to represent them.
They are upset their voices are not heard loudly enough in ATP decision-making and that they do not know enough about the organisation’s finances.
“We’re not trying to close down the ATP,” Ferreira said. “We just want someone to represent us who is not employed by the ATP. We want someone who does what we tell him to do, rather than what the governing body tells them to do.”
But Woodbridge said the 16 players at Monday’s meeting, which was attended by ATP chief executive officer Mark Miles, came out in favour of continuing to work within the ATP structure.
The only leading players absent from the meeting were world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi, Albert Costa and Alex Corretja.
Agassi is injured and has left Indian Wells, Players’ Council members Corretja and Costa felt they were already informed enough and did not have to attend while Hewitt told Woodbridge he would prefer not to attend meetings.
“They were 100 per cent behind where the ATP Tour is heading right now in terms of the issues Wayne and others have brought up, and with the leadership that’s in place,” Woodbridge said.
Ferreira has said the IMTA is planning to launch during the Miami Masters next week. But Woodbridge was sceptical.
“They might keep talking for another month but I don’t know who’s going to back them, they need to have funds,” Woodbridge said. “Are the players who they sign going to give them 10 or 20 grand each' Who are they going to employ' They have to have staff. It’s not just saying you are going to do it.”
Woodbridge believes the players began to grow dissatisfied after the ATP was forced to eliminate its $10 million bonus pool this year due to lack of funds. The bonus pool paid players based on their rankings and appearances at Masters Series events.
“Tennis and the whole world economy in general has to readjust and that created this interest,” Woodbridge said.“The tour had been rosy for 10 years and then hit a bump in the road. It’s exactly like the information technology boom, when that bust and everyone said, ‘what am I going to do'’
“Guys in the locker room are talking and that’s great. They want to know what’s going on and they will become unified to solve problems.”
The ATP board of directors is composed of seven members, three representatives from the Players’ Council, three tournament directors and Miles.
But the players’ representatives — Ricardo Acioly, Tomas Carbonell and Gary Muller — are paid by the ATP to be on the board, which does not sit well with Ferreira.
“The players need to be more informed about the business and we need to have someone with a business mentality to get valuable information for us so we know what's going on inside,” he said.
“We’re a little bit isolated from the ins and outs. We need an independent person representing our needs.”