Wimbledon buoyed by vote on land purchase

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has been given the green light to accelerate development plans for the Wimbledon grand slam tournament after an adjoining golf club approved the terms of a £63.75m (€72.8m/$84.1m) offer for 73 acres of land at their property.

The AELTC offer is set for final approval in December, but has been set on the right path after members of Wimbledon Park Golf Club met yesterday (Wednesday) evening. The meeting saw more than the required 75% majority vote to approve a change in the club’s articles of association that will allow all 750 members to share £85,000 each through the offer, rather than solely those who had held membership for more than 10 years.

AELTC already owns the lease on the golf club, but control of it does not revert back to Wimbledon’s organisers until 2041 and Wednesday’s decision means that AELTC will now be able to gain control in 2021.

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Mick Desmond, commercial and media director at the AELTC, said, according to The Guardian newspaper: “We have a fantastic site but we would like to create a bigger site. We believe we would become a much bigger, more prestigious event by getting that land but also giving something back to the community. We obviously think it’s a very fair bid.”

Philip Brook, AELTC chairman, added: “What we’ve been very clear with the golf club and their advisers is we’re not going to do this again. We’ve really pushed ourselves financially. There’s a lot of money on the table. It’s a declining asset because in 2041 the land reverts to the All England Club for free. This is money just to accelerate the process by 20 years.”

The decision comes with Wimbledon under pressure to keep pace with the development work taking place at fellow grand slam tournaments the Australian Open in Melbourne, French Open in Paris and US Open in New York. The addition of the golf club’s land is set to triple the size of the Wimbledon grounds from the 42 acres currently in place.

In a statement issued after the vote, AELTC said: “We are encouraged that the members of Wimbledon Park golf club have taken a decision which enables them to consider the AELTC’s offer for the early release of the land at a vote later this year.”

Image: AELTC