The LTA has published its financial results for 2021 which outline the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tennis. It also shows a steady return to normality in what was a year of exceptional achievement on court for British tennis.
The period concluded two very challenging years which saw the cancellation of the LTA’s own major events and the Championships in 2020 before both returned with limited capacities in 2021, along with the LTA’s payout of COVID support packages totalling nearly £5m in grants and a further £2.4m in loans to the tennis community in 2020.
The 2021 results showed that overall expenditure increased by 21% compared to 2020, largely due to the return of the LTA’s major events at Nottingham, Queens, Birmingham and Eastbourne. Given the events were staged at significantly reduced spectator capacity in order to comply with government COVID guidelines, the reduction in income meant the net investment made by the LTA in these grass court events was double that of a normal year.
Whilst income from The Championships increased compared to 2020, when an insurance policy mitigated the impact of cancellation, The Championships were also subject to limits on spectator capacity in 2021.
The overall reduction in income compared to a normal year, combined with the continued investment in key strategic initiatives, resulted in an operating loss of £5.6m recorded for the year. This was reduced to a loss of £2.6m once returns on investments were considered.
Both income and expenditure are expected to return to normal levels in 2022, subject to no further COVID restrictions being in place. Inflation pressures remain a concern for 2022 and beyond as global prices increase. However, with careful financial governance the LTA expects to be able to continue to invest in the sport and there has been no change to the original 5-year targets set out at the beginning 2019.
Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive said, “2021 was an exceptional year of achievement on court for British tennis. Off court we saw a slow but steady return to normal operations over the course of the year. The impact of COVID continued to cast a shadow over all aspects of our work, not least our major events which took place with significantly reduced spectator capacity. However, we believe that we have been able to manage through the period with a prudent approach to expenditure and expect only a limited impact on our ability to invest in the long term health of the sport. We would expect 2022 to be a return to normal activity and look forward to hosting spectators at our events as usual.”
Simon Steele, LTA Financial Director, said, “Throughout 2021 we maintained a careful approach to our costs and looked to ensure we could continue to invest in our core activities in order to develop the sport and promote it to new audiences. The overall outlook for our finances is healthy and we remain confident that we will be able to make the investments needed to deliver our strategy and capitalise on what we hope will be further on court success.”