Fury at Draper's 640k as LTA chief comes under fire over 'outrageous' salary
22:00 GMT, 19 December 2012
The 640,000 salary package of Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper has been branded 'outrageous' by the chair of Parliament's All Party Tennis Group.
Labour's Baroness Billingham has attacked his pay, especially the decision to award a 201,000 bonus, revealed in Sports Agenda, when grassroots participation in the sport has actually fallen in the past four years.
Earlier this week Sport England effectively put the LTA on probation for a year over future funding awards, and described their plan to improve numbers playing the game as 'simply not strong enough'.
Net gains: Draper has come under fire after receiving 640,000 for one year
That prompted Baroness Billingham to say: 'This is the second straight year that they have criticised the LTA and in light of that it is outrageous that he is paid more than four times more than the Prime Minister. It's not right to get a large bonus in that situation.
'Think of all the children in primary schools who could be getting to know tennis if that sort of money was available. I stand by what I said in the Lord's, which is that the LTA are useless.'
Official participation figures are down from 487,500 to 441,500 since 2008 despite huge profits pumped in from Wimbledon.
Golden moment: Laura Robson and Andy Murray have enjoyed successful years
The LTA, who declined to respond to her specific comments, pointed out that many sports are struggling with recreational numbers and that in the past year tennis has seen an improvement in that area.
There has also been high-profile success through Andy Murray, Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Jonny Marray.
No 2: But Baker is ranked over 240 places below Murray
Yet British men's No 2 Jamie Baker is ranked 246 and the Baroness is not alone in wondering whether the LTA's annual 15.3 million staffing costs and 17 million spent on participation could have been better utilised.
So far the LTA's main board has taken a very benign view of their chief executive, who has been in charge since 2006. But that could change next year when a new independent chairman, David Gregson, takes up his post.