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Tuesday, July 22, 2008
NY Times Story on ATP Antitrust Lawsuit

Michael Brick of the New York Times interviews Geoff for a story today on the ATP lawsuit. The story is excerpted below.

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The antitrust lawsuit in United States District Court promises to reveal financial arrangements of a plan known as Brave New World, an effort by the ATP Tour to reinvigorate the sport.

The jurors, selected from a group of three dozen candidates who displayed little awareness of professional tennis, listened attentively as lawyers for a German tournament promoter argued the legal backwaters of civil antitrust law.

“The ATP knew that if it controlled the player-services market, it controlled everything in tennis,” Robert D. MacGill [of Barnes & Thornburg], a lawyer for the Germans, said in his opening statement. “It’s as simple as if you don’t have players, you don’t have a tournament.”

A lawyer for the ATP Tour, Brad Ruskin [of Proskauer Rose], disputed those accusations. “What they’re asking for is special protections, and what they’re hypocritically complaining about in this case is the very types of rules, the very types of structures they have advocated,” he said.

In court documents, the German Tennis Federation has accused the ATP Tour of unfairly manipulating the control of star players to steer money to favored tournaments at the expense of promoters in Hamburg.

The Germans are seeking $77 million in damages. Financial damages in antitrust cases are often tripled.

The outcome of the trial, expected to last two weeks, will probably affect individual sports like golf and skiing that do not feature organized teams and collective bargaining agreements, experts said. The ATP comprises tournament promoters and players.

“This case is going to tell us a lot about how powerful these individual tour sponsors are going to be in the future,” Geoffrey Rapp, an associate professor of sports law and antitrust at the University of Toledo, said in a telephone interview.

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For the rest of the story, click here.


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