A British friend of mine sent me this story from today’s London Telegraph: The richest coaching contract in the history of British tennis was confirmed yesterday, with Brad Gilbert becoming an employee of the Lawn Tennis Association, and the domestic game’s ruling body then leasing the American out to Andy Murray as the teenager’s new personal coach.
Although the LTA did not publicly announce the length of the contract – on the insistence of their lawyers wanting to keep the details confidential – sources close to the negotiations claimed that Gilbert had signed a three-year deal, that his flat salary would be about Â£500,000 a year, and that he would also receive additional performance-related bonuses.
It is understood that Murray will pay a proportion of Gilbert’s salary, which will also be one of the most lucrative deals across the tennis world at the moment. Certainly, no LTA employee has ever come close to receiving such a large salary.
John Lloyd, a former British No 1 and possibly his country’s new Davis Cup captain, and John McEnroe have publicly questioned why the LTA should be paying for Murray’s new coach. There have also been some misgivings from within the LTA about the deal.
However, Roger Draper, the chief executive of the LTA, rightly believes that once Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski have retired, Murray will be Britain’s only player of international standing, and that the LTA should, therefore, do almost everything in their power to support him.
Murray, ranked 36 in the world, has been without a coach since ditching Mark Petchey in April, citing “a difference of opinion” over aspects of his game.
The famously extroverted Gilbert, 44, formerly the coach of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, will work with Murray for about seven months of the year, depending on the 19-year-old’s tournament schedule. Gilbert and Murray will start working together for the first time ahead of next week’s ATP tournament in Washington, DC.
The American, a former world No 4, will also be expected to spend between two and four months of the year on his wider role within the LTA, mostly at the new Â£40 million National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, London, where he will work with juniors and help to raise the general standard of coaching.
“The confidence and belief levels in British tennis at the moment are very low and we have got to raise them by surrounding ourselves with proven winners,” Draper said.
George says: I think they will get their money’s worth. Do you?