Good morning delegates. I hope you are enjoying your time in the beautiful city of Lisbon. It’s great to be back at the podium at this… my 27th ITF AGM and to see so many former tennis colleagues and friends. Many of you will know me as the former ITF executive Director of Development and if you elect me tomorrow as ITF President, I will come to the role with over 35 years of hands on experience.
But the Dave Miley standing before you today is no longer Dave Miley, the executive. I am now a Presidential candidate, proud to have been nominated for by my federation, Tennis Ireland… a nation that has played Davis Cup since 1923.
Let me start by saying – I intend to stand up for the ITF and for the member nations at every opportunity… to work and negotiate with our stakeholders and other constituents from a position of strength… not weakness. The National Associations pay for the player development, the junior and entry level pro tour and so much more and you deserve more respect. Without you… there would be no ATP or WTA tours and no Grand Slams.
Over the past six months, I have travelled to 70 nations, to share my ideas and vision for the ITF and tennis and to listen to the Presidents. I have also met with many others including the players and the tours. The manifesto, Together for Tennis – ITF Strong… reflects so many of your ideas. It’s really your manifesto. The ITF is like my family… and I am proud to have been involved in so many of its key moments and achievements during my time running the biggest department.
I have visited over 150 nations, which has given me a unique insight into the work you do and the challenges you face to develop tennis in your nations. I am a truly global candidate and I understand and respect different cultures. I know what works in one nation will not necessarily work in another and this will underpin the way I work for you.
I bring to the ITF bigger picture vision. Tennis is a 22-billion-dollar industry. The ITF is a 100- million-dollar company within that industry and you are the shareholders. And we must not forget that the players and spectators are the customers. The role of the ITF should be to grow the industry, deliver a return to the ITF shareholders and to adapt the tennis product to the needs and lifestyles of the players and the spectators.
Working together, I’m convinced we can double the size of the tennis industry and deliver you much greater funding and resources to grow the game in your countries. My manifesto outlined my concerns for the ITF at this time:
§ ITF is seen as weak
§ Relations with the Tours, players and Slams are poor
§ The ITF World Tour has been a costly disaster
§ There have been serious governance and integrity issues
§ The process followed for the Davis Cup changes was too far, too fast and it divided the ITF family
And on the financial front, ITF reserves have reduced significantly while staff numbers and costs have risen dramatically. I keep asking myself…If the Davis Cup income from the new format is so great, why is the ITF budgeting only a tiny surplus in 2019?
Those who know me will appreciate that my style is positive… I focus less on problems
and more on solutions. That’s why my manifesto and videos have focused on proposals to make things better. My Presidency will not be about one person. I will lead a movement of like-minded people, from you – the political representatives of the ITF nations… and from the technical and top executives of the ITF nations… to change tennis for the better. It can be done!
I believe in continuity where effective… change where necessary. I will continue the things of the current administration that are good for the nations… such as the ITF global rating and gender equity initiatives… and to increase the development budget and financial support to ITF member nations. I will respect the contract for Davis cup and Fed Cup… but work long term with the top nations, Kosmos, and commercial experts, to consider formats that respect more the tradition and that can generate even more income.
As your President… I will:
- § Restructure the ITF World Tennis Tour
- § Establish a Chairman of the ITF Board
- § Develop a new commercial strategy and ITF commercial properties
- § Organise a World Summit on Tennis to agree things that can grow the industry, improve our sport and grow participation
I also want to see an ITF with the top expertise in the key positions so that the ITF works better and is more respected. You hire top people to tell you what to do and to challenge you. I want to see an ITF driven by ideas … not hierarchy … with each staff member thinking each day how they can improve and grow the tennis industry and deliver better support to the nations that own the ITF. The ITF works for you.
Everybody in this room knows that tennis is fragmented … with different groups too often working against each other … rather than for the good of the game. This broken model cannot continue. We need a fairer system built on mutual respect for what we all do for this great sport. I want to work with the Grand Slams, top ITF nations and the Tours to agree the best way forward for tennis … especially on things like the rules of tennis, integrity issues and the structure of professional tennis. But I will also expect that the Tours and the Grand Slams give more respect and support to the ITF and its member nations.
It is not acceptable for the Tours to say to the ITF that they will not give points to the Olympics and to Davis Cup and Fed Cup. It’s not the right thing for our sport. They must realise that when they negotiate with the ITF… they are also negotiating with the ITF member nations that own Professional tournaments … and that the ITF has other options to fight back.
I am proud to have earned the respect of the Federations’ Presidents in this room. I am also grateful to have the respect and good relations with professional players, coaches, the Slams, the Tours and the Tennis Industry. I am well placed to get the tennis family working better together for the good of tennis.
I am a person who listens and who leads by example. I have listened to the Presidents that I have met who told me that a salary of $565,000 for the ITF President is just too much. So today I make a commitment to you. If elected President, my salary for the post will be reduced to the 2015 level of $440,000 with the $125,000 annual saving being reinvested into other important areas. This is not a token gesture. I do it because it will set a good example and because it is the right thing to do for our organisation.
Ahead of tomorrow’s vote, let me leave you with some final thoughts:
With limited resources and using my personal money, I have travelled to meet 80+ presidents and run a very professional campaign. Please consider what I could do for the ITF and Tennis globally if I had the ITF member nations, the ITF staff and the ITF resources behind me.
Let me also say something about values. Working with honesty, integrity and transparency is a choice. I have throughout my 35 years in the sport chosen always to work with integrity … and if elected President, honesty and transparency will be at the very core of how I will serve you.
Finally, I want to talk about the importance of passion and to thank and pay tribute to all the tennis leaders in this room today. I know the passion you all have for the game in your various nations. I have seen, first-hand, how hard you all work to develop tennis in your countries. You have inspired me and given me the passion I have today for tennis. It’s now the time for me to give back my passion to you … and to the sport that has given me so much. I commit to work for you with passion every single day … and to ensure that every ITF staff member does the same.
§ to adapt our tennis products so that millions more people come to tennis as players and spectators
§ and… to increase the commercial value of the tennis industry
…And most importantly – to see the ITF member nations more respected and better off financially. There is a lot at stake tomorrow for the ITF and the sport. Trust me. I will not let you down.
Together for tennis. ITF Strong. Thank you.