Wimbledon Tennis Chief Wants U.K. to Relax Tax on Player Sponsorships

The ATP World Tour Finals and other British tennis tournaments may lose access to players unless the U.K. stops taxing foreign athletes’ endorsement income, Wimbledon officials said today.

Athletes are taxed on a per diem rate by the U.K. on such income, even if the sponsor is located outside the country.

The taxation “will inevitably concern players,” Ian Ritchie, chief executive officer of Wimbledon, said in a press conference at the All England Club in southwest London. “We don’t believe it is a problem for Wimbledon in terms of people coming here. We want to encourage people to come for other events and in the discussions we’ve had with players and agents, it is on their radar.”

Former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi in 2006 lost a 27,500-pound ($44,860) tax dispute at Britain’s highest court, which blocked other sports and entertainment figures from claiming millions from British tax authorities.

Agassi, an eight-time grand slam winner who earned more than $31 million in career prize money, had challenged the U.K. taxation of sponsorship payments made by some of his endorsers including Nike Inc. (NKE) and other non-British companies to his own company, Agassi Enterprises Inc., while he played at U.K. tournaments such as Wimbledon.

Ritchie added it seems unfair individual athletes such as professional golfers, tennis players and athletics stars are subject to the taxation, while stars in team sports such as soccer are not.

“If Lionel Messi comes here for a Champions League final, he does not get taxed, but Roger Federer does,” Ritchie said.

Wimbledon has spoken to Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Management Ltd. CEO, about the issue, Ritchie said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at the All England Club through the London sports desk at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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