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Ebden: Player Association Will Happen, Strike Possible


Former players, including Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Andy Roddick, have endorsed the concept of a new player's union.

Novak Djokovic reportedly addressed the topic at a player's meeting prior to the start of last month's Australian Open.

Watch: Djokovic Begins Rehab

Australian No. 2 Matthew Ebden believes a new players' association "will happen."

In a new article he wrote for Players Voice, Ebden suggests it's a matter of time before a new players' association forms.

"I think a players’ association will happen," Ebden wrote. "We had some legal advice as a group and talked about how to set it up. I think doing that in itself will have a good impact."

The ATP was initially formed as a players union, but Ebden, whose wife, Kim, is a lawyer, says tournaments have more "voting rights and power" than the players do and suggests forming a new players' assocation could help players leverage their rights.

"The ATP is 50 per cent players, 50 per cent tournaments, but the tournaments control everything, including the money, so their 50 per cent probably accounts for a whole lot more in terms of voting rights and power," Ebden wrote. "At the Australian Open, I think the prize money is at about seven per cent of total revenue which, well, let’s just say it’s not great. Without the players there’s no tournament, right?

"Most of the big sports—and we are one of the biggest global sports, and growing every year – put up between 15-25 per cent of revenue back into prize money."

While Djokovic shot down published reports there have been discussions of players considering boycotting tournaments, including majors, in order to gain a bigger piece of Grand Slam revenues, Ebden says a strike is possible.

"A strike? It’s possible," Ebden wrote. "We don’t want to boycott, we don’t want to make problems, it’s not what anyone’s after. We love the people who are running these businesses for us to play, we appreciate everything that’s happening for our sport...

"As tennis players, we do not get weekends off, we work virtually six or seven days a week, nearly every week of the year all around the globe with tons of flying and travel in between. Two years ago at the end of the season we counted, I took 54 flights during the year, so more than one a week, and many were international flights.

"The scale of what we do is crazy when you sit back and think about it. What we put our bodies through, our emotions, our families and friends, it’s an enormous challenge and task. We love it, we wouldn’t change it for the world, and if we are making these tournaments hundreds of millions of dollars, I think all players agree they just want a more equitable percentage distribution."

At the Australian Open, Djokovic said players are "viewed as animals in a cage" and said players' views are not always taken into consideration by tournaments.

“The primary thing is to buy tickets, make money, to comply with television requests, and only at the fourth and fifth place there is what the player thinks about everything,” Djokovic said, according to Saša Ozmo, a Serbian journalist. (Article translated with Google Translate)

“Somehow we are viewed as animals in the cage. I do not want to sound unhappy, on the contrary, I'm exceptionally grateful for the nice life I've been doing, the finances are very good and I'm privileged to be in the sport I love but again, I have the right and I think it's right to say my attitude to public. These days are something we should talk about and to point out some things we do not think are correct.”

Photo credit: Davis Cup Facebook

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