Earlier today, a reader turned me on to the latest development in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour sponsorship negotiations. Given the problems that Sony Ericcson is having, I assumed the company would drop the tour at the end of its contract, but instead, a creative solution has been reached.
The final ten months of the current contract has been voided, and a new three-year contract has been written. Under the terms of this contract, the annual fee has been cut by about 40%; in fact, the $16 million currently owed to the tour has been decreased to $10 million. Also under the terms of the new contract, the name "Sony Ericsson" will be dropped from both the name of the tour and from the year-end championships.
In order to make the deal more equitable, Sony Ericsson has dropped some its requirements, including the number of tickets it gets for tour events. The company has also dropped its requirement that former players attend certain tour events, so the tour will no longer have to pay those players appearance fees.
The name "Sony Ericsson" will still appear on netposts, and players will still be required to wear Sony Ericsson patches.
Apparently, the key negotiation meeting was held in October. In attendance from the tour were communications executive Andrew Walker, WTA founder Billie Jean King, Venus Williams, and Melanie Oudin.