A HUGE tennis event in Edinburgh featuring legends John McEnroe and Tim Henman has been cancelled, forcing the organisers to go into administration, after problems with a roof brought in to prevent last year’s washout.
Brodies Champions of Tennis had been due to run at Raeburn Place from 19th-22nd June, after organisers made extensive reassurances that the event would go ahead following last year’s washout.
Sources say that a problem with the roof over the court could not be overcome.
In a statement, organisers Serve & Volley Ltd said: “We are disappointed to advise that we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel this week’s Champions of Tennis tournament, which was due to take place between Thursday 19 – Sunday 22 June in Edinburgh.
“Following on from last year’s event we revised the design of the roof covering the court to provide better weather protection. This resulted in a unique and complex design, which required specialists to manage and oversee the build.
Unable to facilitate the build
Due to unforeseen circumstances the specialist team have been unable to facilitate the build and despite extensively investigating all alternative options we have not been able to secure a solution.
“We fully appreciate the disappointment this will cause customers, sponsors and suppliers; this decision has not been taken lightly. The unavoidable cancellation resulting from the problems experienced with the roof has resulted in the organisers, Serve & Volley Ltd, entering into voluntary liquidation.
“Administrators are to be appointed over the coming days and will be in contact with all suppliers in due course.
“Information regarding match session ticket refunds will be available on our website from Wednesday 18 June.
“We would like to thank everyone that has been involved in the event to date as we fully recognise the huge amount of goodwill and support that we have received.”
Volunteers, including umpires and line judges, were told the news in an shock e-mail from Paul Thomson, an assistant to tournament director Viki Mendelssohn, at 1.30pm today.
It read: “Some very bad news. Just been told the event has been cancelled due to tech difficulties.
‘Sorry to be the bearer of bad news’
“I know this will affect you all in a variety of ways. Sorry to be bearer of bad news.
“From a personal perspective, thank you for working so hard and being such an enthusiastic person in the group. Sorry to let you down. Hope to speak to you soon in better circumstances.”
A spokesman for sponsor Brodies LLP said: “At an early morning meeting today with the organisers of Champions of Tennis, Serve & Volley Limited, we learned that the enlarged roof over the Champions of Tennis court cannot be erected effectively.
“This outcome was contrary to all assurances given to us by the organisers. The organisers advised us at the meeting that they were looking at options to reorganise the event as an open-air tournament, but we understand that this proved impractical in the time available.
“As sponsors, we are hugely disappointed that this has caused the cancellation of the tournament by Serve & Volley at this stage. We share the frustration of the many tennis fans who bought tickets expecting to see a premier sporting event.
“However, based on current weather forecasts, there is a measure of risk of a repeat of the upset caused to some spectators by disruption of some of the sessions due to rain at last year’s event, when there was a roof in place. We believe that pressing ahead with the championship under these circumstances would not be fair to ticket holders, who bought tickets expecting the additional protection this year of an extended court roof. It is also the case that Serve & Volley has run out of time to reorganise and properly re-advertise the event as an open air tournament to ticket holders.
‘A gesture of goodwill’
“Although the tickets were sold by Serve & Volley, as a gesture of goodwill, Brodies will refund the cost of tickets to individual ticket holders who are unable to recover the cost of their tickets from Serve & Volley or from their credit or debit card providers. Further details will be published on our website, www.brodies.com, tomorrow.
“Those who bought tickets using their credit or debit cards may be able to claim a refund from their card providers. Guidance is available on the Which? (Consumer’s Association) website at http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act and http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/how-do-i-use-chargeback. However, Brodies will refund the cost of tickets to all individual ticket holders who try but are unable to get their money back. We are not doing this on behalf of Serve & Volley Ltd.
“We have supported Champions of Tennis for the last two years because we believed hosting such a prestigious ATP event in Edinburgh would benefit the economy, the local community, and help cement Scotland’s reputation as a leading sporting destination. We are genuinely sorry that tennis fans have been left disappointed.”
Umpires had been measured for suits and were due to collect the items tomorrow.
It is understood organisers pulled the plug despite arrangements being at an advanced stage, with social media photographs today showing consignments of champagne being delivered to the venue.
Unavailable for comment
However, would-be patrons contacting ticket agencies were being told that sales are “temporarily” suspended and they are urged to “try later”.
Tournament director Viki Mendlessohn was unavailable for comment as was Jan Felgate who helps organise the event on behalf of the Association of Tennis Professionals.
Last year’s event sparked controversy after heavy rain halted play with spectators paying up to £100 a ticket to watch the legends play in Stockbridge.
But on the Saturday, play was stopped for almost four hours after a purpose-built £100,000 roof failed to keep the court dry.
Fans were left almost completely washed out by rain after they were denied refunds, prompting organisers to reassure the public.
One insider said: “Last year was a shambles with the roof not covering the court, insufficient mops when it rained and not even any tarpaulins for the playing surface.
“Lessons would surely have been learned.This is a disaster for the tournament and for Edinburgh. I imagine players’ rooms and cars would have been booked well in advance. It is also likely the players would have had to receive guarantees.”