Promoters will need long-term sponsorship deals in place to underpin elite events
The men’s PSA World Tour has announced a three-year calendar schedule restricted to eight major PSA World Series events per year. The move is designed to strengthen and protect the major events on the calendar, requiring promoters to commit to long-term agreements to guarantee the sustainability of the blue riband World Series tournaments.
The new three-year calendar will come into effect across the professional circuit with immediate effect as the 2014-15 season gets under way.
The PSA announced today: “Following a significant consultation process with the sport’s major stakeholders, the new structure will see squash’s top level of competition, the PSA World Series, limited to eight events per year, excluding the annual World Championship and World Series Finals, with each tournament in the series required to commit to a minimum three-year presence on the calendar.”
The move echoes attempts made by the discredited Eye Group to gain control of the PSA World Tour a decade ago, with main tournaments tied to an impressive TV schedule that sadly lacked the financial backing to underpin the event calendar.
The Eye Group’s ill-fated involvement in squash ended in acrimony and legal disputes that damaged the sport’s credibility for a number of years.
The PSA have made these ambitious moves to strengthen their top-tier events. They accept that the professional game previously operated on a year-to-year basis, with tournaments often confirmed at the last minute due to sponsorship uncertainty.
The new rules will require promoters to commit to longer-term agreements with sponsors if they wish to stage elite tournaments.
These arrangements will also see the current World Series Gold and World Series Platinum event standards amalgamated to ensure parity in prize money across the sport’s top event-tier.
“Ensuring that the sport has a well structured annual season which is planned in advance is vital in ensuring the sport of squash can continue to grow sustainably on a global scale,” said PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough.
“Moving from a position of annual insecurity to a new, three-year calendar, will ensure our players can focus their training to be at their best for the toughest competitions and allows us to continue to build on the sport’s burgeoning popularity.
“We also feel that having a secured, structured format for the World Series will markedly increase our commercial and broadcast appeal, providing us with a platform from which we can fully focus on increasing the sport’s profile around the world.”
The World Championship, the most prestigious title in squash, and World Series Finals, the end of season finale to the PSA World Series, will continue to be held on an annual basis with dates set for October/November and May/June, respectively. Further details regarding the World Series Finals are expected to be released in the next few weeks.
Details of the confirmed 2014-2017 PSA World Series calendar will be also be finalised in the coming weeks with events such as New York’s iconic J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions, staged in Grand Central Terminal, and the long-standing Cathay Pacific Sung Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open having already committed to the new agreement.
For all the latest news from the PSA World Tour visit: www.psaworldtour.com
Picture courtesy of Tournament of Champions and STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)