LTA looks for sponsor to pump £24m into British tennis

LONDON - The Lawn Tennis Association is looking for a partner to commit as much as £24m over the next four years, as it seeks to replace Stella Artois as the title sponsor of the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at the Queen's club.

InBev has ended its 30-year sponsorship of the June Queen's Club tournament, known as the Artois Championships, which was won on Sunday by Rafael Nadal who beat Novak Djokovic in the final.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, the LTA is in talks with a number of possible sponsors, but as yet no names have emerged as possible replacements for the lager brand.

In addition to the Queen's Club, the new title sponsor will also win naming rights to a series of Wimbledon warm-up games, and hospitality sponsorship opportunities at the All England Championships.

Finding a sponsor is crucial as the LTA spends around £750,000 ensuring top players like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray play.

Without a sponsor, British tennis will also further struggle at the grass roots level, where the LTA wants to use the cash to make it easy for children to play by funding council-run courts.

The LTA is looking to the success of British athletics and its sponsorship deal with Norwich Union, which signed a £20m agreement with UK Athletics in 2001.

The deal was the biggest commercial investment to date in the future of the sport and replaced an earlier £10m sponsorship deal. As much as 20% of that cash was destined for grass roots development.

In addition to the headline sponsorship of the Queen's tournament, the LTA is looking to sign a number of smaller sponsorship packages worth around £6m.