LONDON, JUNE 22 -- The Men's International Pro Tennis Council has proposed a players' pension fund, according to members of the Association of Tennis Professionals and council officials.
The players, who have sought a pension fund several years, got the proposal from pro council chairman Ray Moore at their general membership meeting. "It's a first step," one player said, "but we're still a long way from anything we would sign. There are a lot of things to be worked out. But them making us an offer is progress."
Last year, the players proposed that TV money from Grand Slam tournaments be used to fund pensions. That was turned down. One year of negotiations later, the council has made a counterproposal.
This proposal would take a percentage of the prize money from each Grand Prix tournament and set it aside for a pension fund. The 79 tournaments on the Nabisco Grand Prix have agreed to increase prize money in 1988 by $7 million, part of it earmarked for the pension fund.
Players would be fully vested after seven years, with 50 percent vesting after five years. The percentage of prize money has not been specified, but the players want about 10 percent, according to sources.
Although the players were happy with the pension part of the proposal, sources said there are major problems caused by what the MIPTC has asked in return. Most notably, it has asked that the minimum number of tournaments a player enters each year be increased from 14 to 16 and that the top players' "protected" weeks be cut from six to three.
The MIPTC may not designate a top player to go to a tournament on a protected week. He or she can give lucrative exhibitions, instead.
The 14 to 16 increase would affect middle-level players because the top eight already play 16 -- the regular 14 plus The Nabisco Masters and the WCT Finals. The more tournaments that middle-level players have to play, the fewer lower-ranked players get to play. The less they get into tournaments, the less chance they have to qualify for a pension.