HKTA should not block promoters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 4:35am


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I am a retired promoter and refer to Alvin Sallay's column ("Beware wolf at HKTA door", May 12) which I found to be confusing. It attacks private promoters and the national tennis association, easy targets when you can tap freely into a computer.

What's wrong with a national body subcontracting a professional sporting event, in this case a Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tier III tournament.

Done properly, a tennis federation (such as the Hong Kong Tennis Association) can keep control and reduce its financial risk.

Federations exist to promote their sport and concentrate on the development and guardianship of the game; they're not geared to run professional events.

Events need professionals who know how to do it and risk is not the remit of a national body. If at some point the federation has the skills and the money, then go ahead.

Isn't the federation going against its mandate if it denies the public the chance to see world-class stars, that is, by blocking venues and asking for unreasonable sanction fees?

Consider, too, the cost of running a WTA event - HK$8 million, HK$10 million, HK$12 million.

If the HKTA fails with its income target and loses HK$1 million or HK$2 million, who is going to cover this loss?

The HKTA doesn't have recurrent income and the loss would be a disaster. (I can imagine a headline, "Why didn't HKTA seek professional assistance?")

A private promoter takes that risk and it's not that difficult if two parties come to a sensible financial agreement and they're not too greedy.

Losing control doesn't enter the equation.

The example of the Rugby Sevens is a tired one. This wonderful event was born when rugby was an amateur sport, in an era where teams would come for free and a few beers. The cost base was low, while the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and two blue-chip sponsors successfully built that brand.

Now there is a 40,000 seater stadium (to put lots of money in the bank) and the cost of participating teams is still low, compared to other sports.

To fill Victoria Park with 3,600 people requires a generous sponsor and a Maria Sharapova and a Li Na - or the like.

Their appearance fees are somewhere in the region of HK$2 million each. Do we still think the federation should be running this event?

Brian C. Catton, Tsim Sha Tsui