Wimbledon’s Wacky Bond Market

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By Kirsten Salyer

For Roger Federer to clinch his spot in the Wimbledon finals, it took a victory over the top-ranked defending champion, Novak Djokovic. For certain spectators desperate to guarantee a spot in the stands, it required buying into one of the weirdest bond markets in the world.

The All-England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts the tournament, sells debentures that entitle holders to tickets to the Wimbledon tennis championships. The club offers 2,500 Centre Court bonds, covering tournaments from 2011 to 2015, and 1,000 Number One Court coupons, covering those from 2012 to 2016. Centre Court debentures were recently traded in London for 66,000 pounds ($103,000), more than twice the price of two years ago, when they were first issued, Smart Money reports.

Tickets are set aside for members of the All-England club, which include past champions, honorary members and 375 regular members. Most of the rest are distributed through an oversubscribed public ballot; those tickets can’t be sold or transferred. Buying debentures, or buying tickets from debenture holders, is the only way for nonmembers to guarantee tickets to the tournament.

The debentures, which have funded improvements to the club since 1920, can be sold on the club’s official market or through outside agencies. According to Wimbledon Debenture Holders, a book of debenture tickets for Centre Court for the entire 2012 tournament costs about 23,322 pounds, or $36,074. Official Wimbledon Debentures is selling debenture tickets to the Men’s Final on Sunday for 3,250 pounds, or $5,027.

Considering the high price of the bonds, it’s a risky ticket market. But for avid fans looking to guarantee their spot court-side during Wimbledon, debentures are the only way to go. Once a bondholder's run of tournaments is over, the only get back 2,000 pounds, or $3,100.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor of the Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

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-0- Jul/06/2012 19:47 GMT