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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Tennis

Murray's Wimbledon win yet to have impact at grassroots
AFP
London, December 12, 2013
First Published: 20:25 IST(12/12/2013)
Last Updated: 20:27 IST(12/12/2013)

British tennis chiefs have been warned that part of their public funding is at risk after the sport suffered a drop in public participation despite Andy Murray's historic Wimbledon triumph.

Sport England, the body which distributes Lottery money to boost sport at grassroots level, says tennis has failed to capitalise on Murray's success at Wimbledon earlier this year.

Tennis, which has earlier this year had a £530,000 ($869,465, €729,651) funding cut imposed, could lose more of its £17.4 million four-year award after participation fell from 423,400 in April to 406,000.

There was a small rise in the summer when Murray beat Novak Djokovic to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles' title for 77 years.

But this was not sustained and Sport England will hold meetings with the Lawn Tennis Association before deciding in January whether up to 20% of their funding will be suspended.

"The tennis results are disappointing. As fantastic as Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon was, that gives them a platform and a great profile," Sport England chief executive Jenni Price said on Thursday.

"They did a lot in August and September and had a bit of a lift from that but it was not sustained. They need a really good delivery system outside the clubs such as on the park courts and they will be getting that message very loud and clear from us.

"I should say they started to engage in the participation agenda and are genuinely focused on it now - and we couldn't have said that in the past."

However, Nick Humby, the chief operating officer of the Lawn Tennis Association, insists his organisation remains confident participation in the sport can be improved.

"We are of course hugely disappointed that the October 2012/13 numbers have gone down but we take encouragement from the peak between July and September exceeding that of the Olympic and Paralympics last year," Humby said.

"That was partly due to Andy Murray, partly to the extraordinary weather, and partly to the stuff we are now doing out and about around Britain.

"We have been working very closely with Sport England to convert that into more people playing tennis."

Meanwhile, football's 2013-17 funding award was £30 million, but the sport's participation numbers are down to 1.83 million, a drop of 100,000 since April, and more than 4% down on the 2005 figure.

"We are very disappointed by football's results and the FA really need to grasp this," Price said.

"There is now to be a discussion with the FA and our board, but we operate a payment for results scheme so football are definitely in the at-risk zone. They have to think big in their participation programmes."


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