The All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Sunday came up with a compromise formula to placate the revolting players as it accommodated some of their demands, such as change in support staff, but also kept its authority intact by keeping the final decision on all matters in its hand.
The players had demanded to have a new team captain, coach, doctor and physiotherapist to which AITA agreed but did not accept the choice put forward by the players.
The national tennis body has replaced coach Nandan Bal with Zeeshan Ali even as the players had preferred Aditya Sachdeva, who has coached talented Yuki Bhambri, a member of the Indian team.
The AITA decided that the team captain should be an experienced Davis Cup player and the coach should have at least been a former Davis Cupper.
“This decision was taken by the Executive Committee so that Davis Cuppers have an opportunity to serve the nation even after their retirement. Accordingly, we are pleased to inform you that the new coach for the year 2013 for the Indian Davis cup team will be Zeeshan Ali,” AITA said in a statement.
AITA has also assured to change captain S.P. Misra after the South Korea tie but it is not known if the replacement would be of the players’ choice or the tennis body would impose its own candidate.
“The AITA Executive Committee felt that Mr. Misra reserves befitting honour for his excellent contribution in handling the Davis Cup team, which performed creditably under his leadership. AITA EC has therefore, decided to retain Mr. S.P. Misra as the captain of the Indian Davis Cup Team for the Korea Tie, where he will be befittingly honoured,” the statement said.
The other major bone of contention was the sharing of the Prize Money for the Davis Cup.
AITA has decided to increase players’ share for Group I ties from 50 to 60 per cent as against 70-30 demanded by them. However, AITA said it will raise the players share to 70 per cent if the team wins Group I.
For World Group ties, the players’ share has been raised to 70 per cent from 60 although the players had demanded 80-20 in their favour.
“The payments would be disbursed as per the old Players Agreement for payment to players, captain and coach. However, if you all feel the disbursement procedure followed needs to be changed, kindly communicate the same to us,” AITA said.
The players had demanded that the AITA should pay the support staff from their own share and not from theirs.
It remains to be seen if the players agree to AITA proposal. The eight players, led by Somdev Devvarman, had threatened to boycott the Korea tie if their demands are not met.
The AITA has also agreed to change the team doctor, which means that Dr Vece Paes’ 22-year-long stint with the team has come to an end. However, for the appointment of the new doctor and the physiotherapist, AITA will ask Sports Authority of India (SAI) to fill the posts.
The players also wanted a major say in deciding the venue of the home Davis Cup ties but the AITA said it was important that all the cities get to host the matches and they cannot keep them to one state.
“AITA would also like to mention that Davis Cup ties are organized and conducted by state associations and not AITA. It is well known that local sponsors are not available for Davis Cup ties easily and it is virtually impossible for the same venue to conduct one Davis Cup after the other as sponsorship avenues will be saturated in that particular city. At the same time in order to spread the game and to give enough opportunity to all states it is necessary to rotate the venues of Davis Cup ties,” the AITA statement said.
The AITA though promised to “consider weather conditions” prior to allotting ties. The tennis body said since it would not be in a position to know which players would be selected, suggestions on the surface and climatic conditions would be taken from the captain who would be consulting the players and suggesting to it the same, as required to favour the team.
As far as Team Sponsorship is concerned, AITA favoured a 50-50 share, saying, “It is very difficult to get team sponsorship. And after we have procured it, it becomes frustrating when players do not wear the team sponsor’s logo or cooperate with the team sponsor during the tie.”
“In fact, the onus is on players to please team sponsors so that team sponsorship can continue in future, and since the revenue received is shared with players. It is, therefore, suggested team sponsorship should be shared 50: 50 for the federation to cover the expenses for obligations committed to the team sponsor. We seek your cooperation in this matter.”
The players had also demanded that all the team members should be treated at par with regard to logistical arrangements.
The AITA has decided that for World Group ties, captain and four players will be entitled to business class airfare subject to a maximum of Rs 3.5 lakh. In respect of Asia/Oceania ties, any player who has reached top 100 in singles or top 50 in doubles during his career will be entitled to business class airfare subject to a maximum of Rs 3.5 lakh.
All others will be entitled to economy class fare with a maximum limit of Rs 1.70 lakh per player.
The AITA on its own asked the players to follow certain Davis Cup clothing rules. It said it will not arrange clothing for the Davis Cup players who have apparel sponsorship.
“The selected players who do not have apparel sponsorship would be provided with apparel by the AITA. In case of any penalty on non-fulfilment of clothing norms of ITF, the same will have to be borne by the player responsible for the same,” AITA said.