The Daily Telegraph - Business : 2020-07-01

Sport : 17 : 9


9 The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 1 July 2020 *** LTA issues funding warning and calls for indoor courts to reopen Tennis sports news correspond­ent By Tom Morgan Outdoor bookings have surged by 250 per cent year on year, according to the chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Associatio­n, which is pleading with the Government to now reopen indoor courts. Appearing before MPs, Scott Lloyd suggested the sport had weathered Covid-19 comparativ­ely better than other sports, with Wimbledon due an insurance payout after it was cancelled. However, in written evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, the LTA said “further specific support may be needed… in particular, if public health restrictio­ns and consumer confidence mean stadia are not able to return to full capacity within the next year,” the letter said. “An immediate priority is to secure the reopening of indoor tennis venues as soon as possible, together with cafes, bars and other facilities that help provide tennis clubs with revenue.” Two thirds of LTA funding is dependent on Wimbledon revenue, but Lloyd said he understood the All England Club’s decision to axe it this summer. Lloyd said the governing body’s priorities remained in giving innercity youngsters better access to courts. Explaining his efforts to diversify the sport, he spoke of going into community centres, youth clubs and mosques to encourage wider participat­ion. He said it was “extremely disappoint­ing” that indoor courts will remain closed from July 4, despite some expectatio­n that they might reopen, especially, as he said, that outdoor tennis participat­ion has been surging in recent weeks. He said: “Initial data sources would imply that our bookings, through our online systems, are up by 250 per cent, so that’s great news. One of the things we are particular­ly focused on and disappoint­ed by is the fact that we are not going to be able to resume indoor tennis, like many other activities or leisure pursuits.” The LTA’s written evidence also warned that “further long-term investment into sporting facilities is needed. The Government’s manifesto commitment to £550million for grass-roots sporting facilities, through the Football Foundation, was very welcome, and needs to be delivered to benefit all sports over the next decade,” the letter said. “The LTA had been anticipati­ng investing £125million over the next decade in new indoor facilities, but some of this funding has been deployed to support the wider tennis community through Covid-19, so more funding and support from the Government will be needed.” Kai Havertz Wanted ‘Doughnut’ Becker and ‘rat’ Kyrgios trade insults tennis correspond­ent By Simon Briggs In any other summer, yesterday would have been a rain-affected, stop-start day at Wimbledon. But in the absence of any official live action, the tennis world had to make do with a spicy online rally between former great Boris Becker and Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios. Becker called Kyrgios a “rat” for breaking the code of locker-room omerta, while Kyrgios responded that Becker was a “doughnut” and “not the sharpest tool in the shed”. Becker began the exchange yesterday morning when he spoke out in support of his fellow German Alexander Zverev, whom Kyrgios had dubbed “selfish” for partying in a French beach bar only a week after he had been in contact with Covid-19 sufferers as part of the Adria Tour fiasco. “Don’t like no rats!” exclaimed Becker on his Twitter page. “Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I’ll call him out for it. Simple.” Becker responded: “We all live in the pandemic called Covid-19! It’s terrible and it killed too many lives... we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don’t like rats.” Kyrgios said: “Rats? For holding someone accountabl­e? Strange way to think of it champion, I’m just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectful­ly done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something. @TheBorisBe­cker is a bigger doughnut than I thought. Can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though.” Verbal volleys: Boris Becker (left) clashed with Nick Kyrgios over the behaviour of Alexander Zverev at a French bar Ben Chilwell and think you’re better than us...@ NickKyrgio­s”. Kyrgios replied: “For goodness sake Boris, I’m not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It’s a global pandemic and if In brief Women most at risk as leisure facilities stay closed Spurs eye Hojbjerg are set to dash Celtic’s hopes of re-signing Fraser Forster on loan by giving the 32-yearold goalkeeper a chance to resurrect his career at St Mary’s. their Hillsborou­gh stadium to owner Dejphon Chansiri. The Championsh­ip club have “strenuousl­y denied” breaking regulation­s but face a heavy points deduction if found guilty. A verdict is expected within the next fortnight Tottenham are confident they will sign Southampto­n’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg this summer, as long as the club can raise the transfer fee through sales. The 24-year-old is near the top of head coach Jose Mourinho’s wanted list to strengthen his midfield. The player has one year left on his contract and is understood to be keen on a move to London, which would further put in doubt the future of Spurs’ record signing Tanguy Ndombele. Meanwhile, Southampto­n By Tom Morgan The committee praised Donnelly over the Sport England-backed This Girl Can campaign, which was developed in 2015 to promote sport and activity among women, and has inspired four million women to act. Care and childcare responsibi­lities have “amplified gender stereotypi­cal norms,” she added. “As we come out of lockdown there is a widening of that gender gap.” Donnelly cited evidence showing women’s health is at more risk of declining amid the ongoing closures of indoor exercise facilities. “The continued closure of gyms, pools and leisure facilities are worrying because women disproport­ionately use those facilities,” she The continuing closure of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres is disproport­ionately affecting women, says Sport England, which warns that gender inequaliti­es have been exacerbate­d by lockdown. MPs on the Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee heard concerns that the clock is being turned back after women’s participat­ion was boosted by last year’s football, netball and cricket world cups. “We’ve seen an exacerbati­on of inequaliti­es that existed before lockdown,” said Alison Donnelly, executive director of communicat­ions and marketing at Sport England. said. “In terms of classes offered at leisure centres, 80 per cent of those who use them are women. We were disappoint­ed, like others, that the next wave of openings do not include indoor facilities.” Sport England research showed that during the height of the pandemic, 46 per cent of the public felt “encouraged to exercise,” but, since restrictio­ns eased, “nearly a third” said it was a challenge to maintain their activity levels. Gyms and leisure centres have opened a series of “showroom sites” to try to convince public health agencies that they are safe to fully reopen after a proposed July 4 date was blocked by the Government. Wednesday wait Sheffield Wednesday are waiting to discover the outcome of their legal dispute with the English Football League. The club went before an independen­t disciplina­ry commission last week to face charges of breaching profitabil­ity and sustainabi­lity rules in relation to the £60million sale of Campbell exit Southend United manager Sol Campbell and his backroom staff have left Roots Hall by mutual consent after the club’s relegation to League Two on a points-per-game basis following the division’s curtailmen­t.

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