We were waiting for comment from Roger Rasheed before posting this, which has yet to materialize.
But tennis.life can confirm Mike Dickson’s just-published piece in the Daily Mail, and that Rasheed was moved without cause, as one of the three ATP player representatives on the ATP Board of Directors.
It came to a vote during a Council meeting in Paris last week, where the seven hands required to oust him were raised.
Rasheed began a three-year term on Jan. 1. So he didn’t make it through his first year.
The issue – the hot-button topic among players these days – is prize money. It’s not the dollar numbers per se, but as the proportion of the ATP tournament revenues.
The sub-topic here is that the Player Council representatives on the ATP Board are supposed to vote the way the players want them to. Otherwise, what’s the point, really?
And in this case, Rasheed sided with the opposition. The vote was on a reduced increase in prize money at the Masters 1000 tournaments, compared with previous years.
Three player votes
The ATP Board is made up of seven members. Three represent the players: British lawyer Alex Inglot, former player/commentator/TV producer Justin Gimelstob, and Rasheed.
Also on the board are Gavin Forbes of IMG, Mark Webster of ATP Media, and Charles Smith, the managing director of the company that runs the Shanghai Masters 1000 event.
The seventh member, who would cast a deciding vote when that’s needed, is ATP president Chris Kermode. That’s a real hot seat to be in.
So, at the very least, if the players want their way on something, they need all three of their representatives on board. And then, they must lobby to get that fourth and deciding vote from somewhere else.
Conversely, the other board members must do the same on the players’ side. They wouldn’t need one of those votes of Kermode votes the other way. But in this case, they got Rasheed’s vote, making that point moot.
Small increase at the Masters
The proposed commitment for 2019 prize money at the top level of tournaments was markedly down from previous years.
The framework, we’re told, calls for an increase of approximately 4 per cent at the 250 level, and just 5.4 per cent at both the 500 and Masters 1000 levels.
That’s significantly lower, at the top, compared to previous years.
As a comparison, the base prize money increase for 2018 at the Masters 1000s was up 11 per cent, with the total up 14.7 percent (The increases were 6% and 9.4% at the 500s, and 4% and 5.9% at the 250 level).
Two years prior, for 2016, the increases were 11% and 14% for the Masters 1000s, 6% and 8% for the 500s, and 3% and 4% at the 250 level.
The issue the players appear to have with that smaller increase at the biggest events is that those tournaments is revenue. The Masters 1000 tournaments are the only ones that don’t have to factor in appearance fees into their budgets. They also are the tournaments with by far the greater revenue streams.
Rasheed makes the call
According to Dickson’s Daily Mail piece, there was “a danger that players would not have seen any increases at all,” had the deal not passed.
That kind of sounds like a negotiating threat, to be honest.
Dickson added that Rasheed, “is said to have assessed the risk and sided with the tournaments on this occasion, helping vote through the settlement just for next season.”
In other words, he went rogue.
You could argue that, as a board member there to speak specifically for the players and execute their wishes, that’s not his role.
At any rate, that’s how the players evidently felt about it.
What happens now is that this week in Milan, an interim player rep for the International region will be elected by Inglot and Gimelstob, the other two reps.
When they’re able (this might not be until the Australian Open), the Player Council will elect a successor.
Doesn’t if feel as though there’s as much drama going on off the court as on in tennis these days?