All England Club officials have dropped the biggest hint yet that Wimbledon is set to stay on the BBC.
Chief executive Richard Lewis is overseeing the tender process that will run from 2017 with reports suggesting that the BBC – who recently announced over 1,000 job cuts – was looking to share the cost with another broadcaster.
BBC Sport have seen their sports portfolio scaled back in recent years and will screen the Open golf for the penultimate time this week before it moves to its new home on Sky Sports from 2017.
They’ve also developed a model of sharing rights with other broadcasters in a bid to decrease costs. FA Cup matches are split with BT Sport, Formula One races shared with Sky Sports and there are proposals to divide the £50m a year cost of the Six Nations with ITV Sport.
It was also recently announced the BBC could lose their Olympic rights after a new long-term European broadcast deal was signed with Eurosport and Discovery.
But Wimbledon – and Premier League highlights on Match of the Day – remain the jewel in the crown of Auntie’s sports department, hence their willingness to sacrifice events such as The Open to protect them.
“We have got a very good relationship with the BBC that goes back 60 years,” said Lewis.
“They do a very good job for us and we do a good job for them, it’s a win-win. I don’t see any reason for it to change.
“They recognise we do a good job for them and are valuable to them. Certainly, we feel that they get us. They are part of us, they understand us. They understand what impact Wimbledon has in the UK, let alone globally. There is a mutual respect and understanding.”
Lewis also hailed the decision to move the Championships back one week and said they’d be no relaxing of Wimbledon’s iconic all white rule – which even Roger Federer had labelled too draconian.
“The players have been overwhelmingly positive,” he told The Guardian.
“With the extra week the players were arriving here earlier and practising more. Lots of competition time, lots of practice and good weather. Qualifying week felt a lot busier all round. It has felt like a three-week tournament.”